File Management: Start Today...Oh, and a Cool Photo of the Great One
Tonight I was going through some old files looking for a low-light photo to use in a book I'm illustrating. I'm really glad that I went looking because I found two folders of pictures that I shot of jazz great Sonny Rollins (aka, The Great One) that I'd nearly forgotten. I shot them years ago on the New Haven Green one beautiful summer night. Seeing Sonny live was one amazing enough, photographing him while he was blowing his horn was a shift in consciousness that can't be described. I was so close to him that I could heard his breath when he inhaled (which was surprisingly rare considering how hard he was exhaling) and I could hear his foot tapping time. You want a cool concert experience, get on stage with Sonny Rollins sometime. You won't be the same after.
Back to photography: The reason that I lost these photos (and thousands of other concert photos over the years, both film and digital) is because I'm not the most organized person in the world when it comes to filing my photo collection--which now numbers in the hundreds of thousands of photos. I've shot some of the greatest musicians alive--Jimi Hendrix, the Doors, Johnny Cash, the Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart, Count Basie, Eric Burdon--to name a handful. Where are they all? Heaven only knows--somewhere either in boxes or in my vast array of hard drives. I'd love to take a year off and just organize my photos, but unless I happen to marry a wealthy heiress (if you know one, introduce me--perhaps the O'Henry heiress of Seinfeld fame) or win the lottery, as they say, they'll probably remain a mess.
So my advice to you--especially if you're relatively new to taking lots of pictures, is get an organization system going: today. Do not wait until you're in my situation. I'm gradually digging out and beginning to organize things, but it's going to take a long time. I suggest two things if you're serious about getting organized: Consider buying Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 software--which is an organizational tool (mainly for RAW images) that interfaces nicely with Adobe Photoshop CS5. Then buy yourself a copy of The DAM Book: Digital Asset Management for Photographers. I would suggest getting the book first--it's easily the best book written on the subject of file management and worth the $32. It's actually worth a lot more than that. And read about Lightroom 3 and see if spending $250 is something you might want to do if it means developing a system that will go forward with you through your photography life.
I'm thrilled I found these photos of Sonny. I wish I knew were my Jimi Hendrix negs were though--or those cool slides of Johnny Cash I shot at Toad's Place! Speaking of concerts, I wonder where Sonny is playing these days...I'd better go check his site.