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Managing Your Archive

Every time I enter my office, I have to walk around a row of file cabinets. Meticulously captioned, labeled and organized are nearly 150,000 slides. Blood, sweat and tears went into creating that database of chromes.

How times have changed! Next to my row of file cabinets is an 8 TB RAID drive with nearly 200,000 images—four years of images packed into a shiny enclosure about the size of a half-gallon of vanilla ice cream. Where will it go next?


Modern image database management is critical for all photographers. Digital images need their own caption and archiving strategy, just like slides. A good system will allow you to quickly organize, find and back up your images.


The first question to ask yourself is, "How am I going to organize my images?" While a basic system of folders works for small image libraries, for professionals, I recommend using a database program that facilitates searches and offers basic photo-editing tools.


Most pro photographers use Adobe Lightroom to manage their image libraries, and with good reason. Adobe has designed this program to be the one-stop shop for both amateur and professional photographers alike. Lightroom offers extensive organizational and search tools, as well as powerful editing and output modules. Many photographers can do all their editing in Lightroom without using Photoshop at all.

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