The most essential system I use for
organizing data is my cataloging of
film scans. For any photographer, a
logical system for organizing images is
imperative. As I scan and work with new
images, I am careful to adhere to my
organizational cataloging system so I
can find images quickly and am certain
not to lose information.
To start with, I always take notes in
the field while I’m photographing. I take note of the date, time,
geographic location, names, weather conditions, exposure settings
and the number of exposures made. After the film is processed,
I use those notes to label the images as I scan them. New image
scans go into a computer folder labeled with the exposure date,
and that folder goes into a bigger folder for the current year.
Within each specific date folder are two sets of scans. One is titled
ORIGINALS DO NOT TOUCH and contains the untouched scans so
I can always come back to them if needed. This folder is copied to a
few different hard drives because one drive is bound to fail sooner
or later. The other folder is called WORKING. These images will
contain all Photoshop layers and image edits. If an image is to be
printed, it is first flattened, sharpened and saved in a new folder,
within the WORKING folder, called PRINT. Likewise, images saved
for the Web will be saved in a new folder called WEB.
This system has worked well for me so far. I think it’s saved me a
lot of time and headaches.
A synced Dropbox folder is the current mecca of digital efficiency.
For me, the biggest hurdle with data is
making sure the important stuff is always
accessible, from any device I might be
using. Data stranded across different
computers used to be the bain of my
existence. Now Evernote and Dropbox
are my two big programs. Evernote keeps
all my shot ideas, notes and actor/model
databases organized and synced across
three computers and my phone. Dropbox
works in the same way but for big files, allowing me to work on ideas
at a laptop while sitting in my living room, save the file and then go to
my office [computer] and pick up where I left off. I have a shared folder
on every computer in my lab, which I can access anywhere in the
world by using my personal computer. And if I need to upload a photo
or check a file, I can also connect through the app on my iPhone.
For client data, e-mail and calendar,
we use Google’s contact manager and
e-mail. I use a browser plugin called
ActiveInbox that turns Gmail into
a project management system and
keeps my inbox hovering around zero.
For accounting, we use Quickbooks
for bookkeeping and Excel spreadsheets to track things. Since we shoot
mostly commercial projects, metadata isn’t a big concern.
While I use a combination of traditional
handwritten systems and more ad-
vanced computerized ones to run my
business, as tax time creeps up, I could
not be more thankful for my Quick-
books! This cost-effective program
helps with running the numbers for my
photography business. I look over my
Quickbook entries and then reference
my handwritten Nikon book to confirm
dates, and I compare numbers that are in my checkbook to en-
sure that information has been input properly. But it is the magic
of Quickbooks that organizes all that information so that I can
have an accurate representation of my financials for the year.
In terms of data, I attempt to keep as
organized as possible with physical
records (keeping receipts, tax forms
and so on). Given that one of the small
advantages of being an artist is that
the practice can be considered a
small business, it’s essential to maintain clarity and organization. This also
means that certain income sources—
sold work, client work, fellowships,
grants, etc.—have to be parsed and
dealt with accordingly.