Digital Asset Management (DAM)

It’s Saturday and you just purchased that awesome digital camera and bought the one with the most mega-pixels.  You attended a family function and shot a few hundred pics.   You go home after the event and dump the pictures onto your computer, clear your memory card and go to bed.  The next morning, you get up and go to your computer and try to look at your pictures.  But to your dismay the hard drive has crashed.  You pick up your camera and try to look at the pictures and remember you deleted them.

We have all experienced or will experience this at some point in our digital lives.  In the not so, old days, we used to shoot on film.  You would take it to the store or develop it yourselves.  You took care to make sure the film canister was secured and kept in a cool dry place.  When you picked up your prints, you also received negatives.  These where your masters.  If you ever needed to re-print a picture, you could always dig up the negative and get a re-print.

Digital photography is no different.  Instead of a file we use memory.  Instead of developing, we use computer software.  Instead of a negative (or master) we use a .jpg, tiff, or RAW file.  This is your master.  If you loose it.  It is gone…. FOREVER!   So how do you guard against loss of your family memories.  Digital Asset Management or DAM.

There are many different approaches to DAM.  I will not bore you with all of them.  If you would like a literal definition  and more info on DAM click here. Nor will I dive into every program out there that can do it for you.  I am going to simply walk you through some simple steps anyone can take to safeguard pictures, video or any other data you might deem important.

Here are some simple steps to a manual DAM process:

  1. Import pictures from camera into the computer
  2. DO NOT ERASE card yet
  3. Go through images using your favorite photo application and remove/delete any images that are not well exposed or just plain out of focus.
  4. Backup the remaining images to a CD, DVD or external hard drive.
  5. Verify the data (make sure all images are there)
  6. Label the media with the date and title.  I always write YYYYMMDD, this way it is easy to sort through media weather on my computer or in a stack of disks. In the case of an external hard drive, label the folder using this method.  It is also a good idea to have 2 drives.  One on-site and one off-site.  Swap them out periodically.
  7. Place media in a protective sleeve.
  8. Place media in a cool/dry place (just like you used to with negatives).  I personally like to save 2 copies and give one to a family member or friend.  This way I am covered if there is a major disaster or loss.
  9. Now you can delete the images off the card.  It is always a good idea to leave the images intact, until your are completely sure you have saved the information.
  10. Rest assured, you have done your best to protect your data.

In future posts, I will go more in depth into on-line backup, some applications I like to uses, and how I use them.



If you cannot afford the full version of Photoshop and have not broken down yet to purchase Elements, is for you.  Signing up allows you the ability to store up to 2Gb of pictures using the free service.  More disk space is available of course at a monthly charge.  No unlimited plan is available yet. offers a watered down version of elements, allowing for simple adjustments and cropping.

One of the coolest features is the ability to connect to your facebook, flickr, photobucket, and picasa assets.  I think this feature has the most potential for extensibility.  Although it does not persistently store your login information for immediate display of the assets, it is really cool.