Digital Photo Cataloging FAQ

Rocket Science?

You need to understand what you have in the way of photos and how you want to get these photographs out once you have put them in. Its not rocket science, just common sense.

Are you Digital?

You must ask yourself whether you are going totally digital or whether you want to be able to go back from a digital image to the original scanned slide/print/negative. If you want to go back to the original you should have a filing and reference system so you can quickly reference the original during image registration.

Better yet, let your image naming strategy refer to the location of the original.

Did you think about it before you started?

The main thing with designing the way you catalog your images is to sit down and think about it before you start. Cataloging images is not a trivial task and the last thing you want to do is have to go back and do them all several times just because you didn’t think of something up front.

One album or many?

The over-riding consideration for how many albums to create is album size. How are you going to back it up? For most of us that means a copy on cd-rom. Realistically in 650Mb you can expect to get 35,000 to 45,000 images per album depending on the size and quality of thumbnail that you choose. Monitor ongoing size and make plans accordingly.

So, just how do I catalog them?

Here is one approach.

Remember the KISS principle, Keep It Simple Stupid. If what you have come up with is complex, takes ages to register each photo, is prone to error then just maybe you need to simplify the approach.

The first thing to do is write down the different types of photos that you have. This might be things like family, friends, different hobbies, interests (travel). Don’t go overboard looking for differences, these should be the natural groupings that you think of.

For each different type of photo write down:

  1. Am I going to want to share these photos with anyone else (e.g. family photos, club photos)

  2. Are there any categories or structure within this type (collections, travel)

  3. Do any photos fit in several different types?

For each different type write down how you want to retrieve the images, e.g.

  1. I want to be able to pull out all photos of someone or something

  2. I want a time sequence set of photos for trip

  3. I want to see all photos of Johnny in time sequence

This is both how you want to find images and how you want to play a slide show from them.

You then need to decide what are attributes and keywords. Your photo types and any structure within them are almost certainly attributes while individual items specific to a single photo are keywords.

Is there anything special I need to do with my keywords?

Yes. You have to make sure that you use consistent naming strategies for each class of keyword or attribute. Look at peoples names for starters, you could use “John Doe” or “Doe, John”. Whichever you choose you should be consistent.

How can I make sure my cataloging strategy will work?

This is the most important step. Catalog a group of images according to the way you believe you want to work. Now set up Picture Sets to retrieve them to verify it is working the way you want. Modify accordingly. This provides you with proof that your concept of how you want to access your images will work before you go through the laborious process of registering them.

One last thing. Look for ways that you can make registering easier in the order you process images. CyPics uses commonality between successive images to cut down the work, maybe you can increase that commonality.

How do I keep track of master images and their offspring?

In CyPics the image name is irrelevant, the description used when you catalog it is far more important.

We suggest that you use a naming strategy that:

  • Assigns a unique names to each successive master images using an increasing number. You could use additional encoding information to include things like the year taken if desired.

  • Offspring names always append additional information to the master image name such that the master image is still identifiable within the name.

When should I backup my images and the image database?

We would recommend that you copy your master images to a multi-session CD-R as soon as possible after you have transferred them from the camera. If you are using a naming strategy for your master images then you should rename them before taking the backup copy.

With images you are working on, editing etc, you need a copy at suitable intervals so that you don’t potentially lose all your work in progress. For backing up these images we’d suggest using CD-RW (re-writable)  as these can be reused.

With the album database it is appropriate to take a backup periodically after you have been cataloging images. Do it whenever you would hate having to redo the amount of cataloging you have done since the last backup. Once again we’d suggest using several CD-RW (re-writable) CDs that you rotate through.

Some time after you have finished enhancing your images you will archive them to CD-R media and then get CyPics to update its image locations to reflect their new home. At some multiple of new archive CD creation we would recommend the writing of a permanent copy of the album database on CD-R.

Any serious backup strategy includes the storage of offsite copies. Ideally you will have a copy kept with the computer and another copy stored at another location where it can not be impacted by the same natural disaster.