When I got my first digital camera (A Kodak EasyShare CX6220, for those of you who want to make fun of me for having owned a Kodak), I just imported my images into iPhoto. It worked well for the first thousand images, and I always thought of it as being fairly speedy. I painstakingly named and even added descriptions to many of the images, and some of my best, I posted to deviantArt. After awhile, and a trip to Michigan, iPhoto became unstable. Unstable enough that I actually lost what I think amounts to about two or three hundred pictures I'd taken while I went to visit my grandmother in Michigan. I was, of course, unhappy, and to this day I still go on random searches for those images. They never turn up.
Then, in Fall 2005, I got my first taste of real photography, in Kate's Photo I class. I used dad's Canon AE-1 film camera for that class, and subsequently decided that I really needed to do more photography. I was, you could say, hooked on film. That Christmas, dad, knowing that I now intended to do more photography classes, and possibly even use it as a career for my real life, gave me the Nikon D50 I use to this day. It was a great camera, and it remains so, but it had something I didn't know anything about yet: Camera RAW, and more specifically, the Nikon Electronic Format.
A month or two earlier, Apple had released an exciting-looking new photo management application geared toward the needs of professionals, called Aperture. It looked like a super exciting program, with the ability to do most of the stuff I needed with my photos right in the interface of the program. I eagerly downloaded and watched tutorial videos, wanting to know more about its functionality. I decided it was the program I needed for my photos, since iPhoto had already failed me a few times, and I didn't have a modern enough version of Photoshop hanging around.
I downloaded Aperture, but realized I couldn't use it until I upgraded my computer to Mac OS X 10.4. This is an entirely separate debacle, but after getting and installing 10.4, twice, I finally got Aperture 1.0 working on my below-spec G4 PowerBook. It was an amazing program, I spent most of my time waiting for it, but it was amazing nonetheless.
Of course though, later on I decided that Mac OS X 10.4 and the speed of Aperture were unbearable, so I "found" a copy of Photoshop CS2, exported my photos out of Aperture, and installed 10.3 back on the PowerBook. At this point, I'd also acquired my first laser printer, and the solution seemed clear, I started right away creating my second photo organization scheme.
Using a MacBook Pro at the high school, I renamed and exported all of my images to one big folder. I then started using Adobe Bridge to rename the images a certain way. PIC_XXXXX.ext where XXXXX was a unique number I assigned to each image based on the date it was taken. Starting at folder zero and working my way through about two hundred folders' worth of images (at least that many) with thirty images per folder, I organized all of my images into neat little buckets of images, perfectly sized for printing contact sheets using Photoshop CS2. The idea was pretty good, I thought. I print out a bunch of contact sheets of my images, and it takes me less time to findt he image I want. Then, I pull the image out of my collection, do whatever to it, and save the derived file to a separate place. It turns out, I wasn't actually all too far off with this sytem.
Although soon, I was separated from my contact sheet binders, and since I'd gotten the much faster iMac in December, 2006 anyway, I decided I could safely move back to Aperture. And move I did, which was amazing because Aperture is very speedy on that iMac, I found myself tagging and naming and describing and sorting, until I stopped, which was cool, I guess.
Organizing photos is a difficult thing, and I'm currently not sure what exactly I am going to do in the future, with that. I'm currently in a class called PHO382, where one of the first things we're learning is all about managing images using Adobe Bridge CS3. At this point I haven't changed from Aperture, but in the next few weeks, I am going to try to decide whether or not I want to use Bridge or Aperture for my photos. This will be a permanent decision, and as I now have almost thirteen thousand images, it's a pretty important one. I'll keep the blog posted, so definitely consider this to be "part one, of an unknown number" in a series of "Cory talks about how he manages his images."