Make image management the first step in your workflow, and you’ll free yourself to spend more time doing the more interesting digital darkroom tasks. Whether you prefer the total control of creating your own file structure or letting your software manage your files automatically, there are many excellent applications for keeping images tagged, flagged and organized.
Keywords and metadata are used by almost every photo app today, so taking a few minutes up front to apply keywords will make it much easier to track down an image later. If you’re starting with a small number of images, this may seem like overkill; but over time, even casual photographers will find themselves with thousands of images to manage, and scrolling through hundreds of images to find one shot can be frustrating.
A lot of the work of managing a photo library is separating your most successful images from the outtakes. Ratings and color-coding are popular methods for identifying your best shots quickly. Many programs automatically will group images together based on the results of smart filtering. All images with a five-star rating, for instance, will be grouped together if you make that selection.
WHICH IS RIGHT FOR YOU?
ACDSee Pro Photo Manager 3‘s newly refined interface has been built with feedback from photographers and longtime users, so it’s no surprise that the workflow management is intuitive and flexible. Seamlessly move between Manage, View and Process modes as you import, review and adjust images. Online Mode makes it easy to share images with friends, family or clientele. In the Manage Mode, you can browse images on the camera, memory card or wherever they may be without needing to import them. You also can add metadata, categorization and ratings easily while browsing images. Pro Photo Manager 3 currently is available as a free beta program for users to test. The final release will be out in the fall. Price: TBA.
With Adobe Bridge CS4, you can perform all of the tasks that keep your images organized and labeled for interchange between the other programs in the Creative Suite family, including Photoshop. Images can be viewed by List view, in stacks, a cycling carousel view, thumbnails or grouped together as larger images once selected. Bridge offers batch processing and a lot of tools for image resizing and output to a number of places, like the web, prints and image devices. Bridge is included with many of the applications in CS4 when purchased separately, and in all CS4 suite packages.
Adobe Lightroom 2 takes the best of Bridge and combines it with the most used features from Photoshop for an image browser/manager that offers extensive control over image adjustment, as well. You can keep your images organized in any number of ways, including Quick Collection selections, by folder and by Smart Collections, which can include star ratings, time frame, recent edits, keywords, notation by colors, and many other definable terms that you can add yourself. You also can search through images by text and metadata information, like camera or lens types. List Price: $299.