Workflow. It’s a compulsory element in every photographer’s skill set, yet it’s something that is a frequent problem for many. How do you import, keyword, caption, store and back up digital photos? Redeye's director Paul Herrmann is on a mission to find best practice...

Recently I needed to find some photographs I’d taken in the early 2000s. I didn’t know the exact date, but I wasn't too worried as I’ve always been fairly diligent about cataloguing my photos. Or so I thought...

I was wrong.

It turned out that I’ve used five different cataloguing systems over the years for films, scans and digital images. I had completely forgotten about one of them, where for a brief period my digital photos are still backed up on CDs, and cross-referenced to a simple database.

It took a few hours to find the database, puzzle out the system and work out which disc the photos were on. It turns out I have two copies of each of the CDs – one stored offsite for safety. But still, these were untouched for 15 years and I had no idea if they were still readable.

I nervously put the CD in the drive and waited…

Does anyone remember how long it takes for a CD to mount on a desktop? Anyway, after a very long 20 seconds or so, the CD opened and I found the photos.

So why am I telling you all this?

Well, it got me thinking. I’m a photographic professional who cares about my archive. But I started to realise just how easy it is to delete, forget or just be unable to find digital images. There was no handy cardboard box with a label on; in my case, only a wallet of CDs marked D101, D102, and so on, catalogued in a database that no-one else knows about and I had done my best to forget.

Does anyone else have these sort of problems? I asked half a dozen good photographers I know how they deal with this. Some of them have well-worked out systems, but most also admit to varying amounts of disorganisation, corners cut and even panic from time to time when space runs out or things can’t be found. And they mentioned a few other problems they face in the general area called workflow.

So, to start with we’ve planned a very informal evening where anyone can swap ideas and thoughts on these matters, called Workflow Swap Shop, on 27th November. Just register to be sure of a place here.

We’ve also set up a survey, to get a sense of where the main workflow issues are and what kind of future training people would like. We will publish the full results early in 2018 and give the first taste at the event on the 27th.

Please click here take the survey and pass on the link to anyone you like. It should take about 10-15 minutes.

- Paul Herrmann

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