Project Management For Photographers; Organization Means More Than Filing Photos

Twenty years ago, business software for photographers was limited. The move from paper to software was a big and risky leap of faith. We talked with a number of photographers to get their take on how, and if, software holds the key.

Geoff Manasse ( I'm the sort of software user who usually reads the Owners Manual. If you are going to spend all that money, what is it to spend a few hours reading in front of your computer and trying things? I do like HindSight, which is well integrated. There have been times when I used Portfolio because it was easier to catalog. But cataloging that way quickly got too large and gave me lazy habits. I wasn't adding keywords or descriptions. There was no way to record sales of individual images or search by stock agencies. Once we were using film and now it is all digital. HindSight keeps adapting and changing with the needs of its clients. We get to ask for what we want. It's a smallish community where our voices are heard. The support we get is everything.

Mark Maziarz ( I look for ease of use. There are not a lot of choices out there and it has been hard to find many good choices, much less compare them. I'm currently using InView/StockView for the ease of use, image tracking (both where it's been and how much money it's made), contact management, invoicing, and accounting.

Michael Cooper ( I was prompted to move from traditional to software because digital asset management is simple, easy, and much more powerful than analog. The volume of digital files I started to accumulate made it imperative to find a viable, easy solution. A central database to manage my images is critical, especially because too many people at too many agencies were renaming files. Things were getting misplaced. I highly recommend features such as previews of images, keywords, fast searches, and the ability to e-mail images.

Robert Houser ( I used to use InView/StockView from HindSight for image management, but found the switch to digital made it cumbersome and it didn't work with my workflow. A year ago, I assigned an intern the task of reviewing current available software in light of my needs. We opted to follow the workflow suggested by Peter Krogh in his book The DAM Book--archiving files in DNG format with metadata describing each image embedded in the file itself. With this method of archiving, we knew that we would have the flexibility in the future to change image management programs with relative ease. With the data in the files, we imported all the files (1TB worth of digital files), into iView MediaPro.

This program had almost all the cataloging features we needed, though we may switch to Adobe Lightroom in the future. The fact that iView can write any data we enter back into the .dng files, makes this workflow ideal because the data relating to any image is not stored in some proprietary database. To switch programs in the future, we just need to have iView update all the files with all current notations, then drag the entire library into the new program.

Does One Fit All?
Multiple programs may be the best way to go. In our survey we found that no one really had one program to "rule them all." For the photographers, some programs seem to have gaps in performance that kept them from efficiently and adequately covering every function.

Ed McDonald ( My experience included a lot of research and trial and error, using many trial software programs before buying and still not necessarily getting the right one. I have not found one program that sufficiently covers all facets of my workflow. So, multiple programs seem to be a fact of life. They all do different things, some well and some not as well as others. I am using CS2, Bridge, Lightroom, iView MediaPro, and soon Aperture.

Mark Green ( For project management we use a combination of tools, depending on whether it is the client or our studio driving the project. We were early adopters of InView software for studio and image management. It truly takes care of all of our needs in business management and marketing. But the path for image tracking starts with iView MediaPro, Adobe Bridge, and Photoshop CS2 (now we are testing CS3 Beta). We also use Microsoft Office (Word and Excel) since so many of our clients do. They are really universal.

Jackie Shumaker ( With the transition to digital we tested several programs for image asset management and workflow--iView MediaPro, Canto Cumulus, Camera Bits Photo Mechanic, Extensis Portfolio--with one goal in mind: Seeking a better, faster means to locate image assets and know the license history associated with each. In the end we learned the more programs you run on a computer the more opportunity one has for conflicts, problems, and unending investment in software upgrades. Today we keep our computer streamlined with the fewest number of software programs designed to deliver the most efficient means to complete the task at hand. We run exclusively Adobe Photoshop CS2 and HindSight for all our image asset management and workflow.