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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

Looking for advice on archiving tons of photos
G.J. McCarthy, Photographer
Dallas | TX | US | Posted: 5:56 PM on 12.04.12
->> Well, more to point, "re-archiving" ... or, just making sense of my mess. I'll explain:

Over the last several years of doing this photo thing "professionally," I've amassed a pretty massive collection of photos. And actually, the bulk of them wouldn't be of the professional flavor; lots of family pictures and the like.

Because I'm an idiot, totally short-sighted and, in a nutshell, rarely know what I'm doing, I've managed to spread all those photos over myriad DVD's, hard drives and so forth. Suffice to say there's probably a lot of duplication between all the random storage places.

So to point, I'm looking for any advice on combing through all those images, weeding out the repeats, and, in general, just trying to make sense of it all and slowly migrate everything to one main hub … or hubs, maybe. Not sure how much space it'll all take. This making sense?

I've made stabs in the past at trying to go in by hand and look for stuff -- deleting what I know is saved in more than one place -- but man is that tedious, and I know I'm setting myself up for mistakes. I'm basically just looking for any thoughts out there from folks who've had to do something similar. Software, tips, you name it -- if it's a suggestion, at this point, I'll gladly take it.

Let's make this interesting: best piece of advice (whatever allows me to get this done) will win something. No, not big. Maybe a gift card to your favorite eating establishment (can't be a Chili's … sorry). It really would mean that much to me. It is such a pain to have to go hunt for something I know is there but cannot for the life of me remember in what drive or the like it was stored.

Much thanks in advance. I'll take your answers on or off the air.

- gerry -
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Perrone Ford, Photographer
Tallahassee | FL | US | Posted: 6:19 PM on 12.04.12
->> Free: http://download.cnet.com/Auslogics-Duplicate-File-Finder/3000-2248_4-109642...
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G.J. McCarthy, Photographer
Dallas | TX | US | Posted: 6:23 PM on 12.04.12
->> Perrone -- thanks! Question, if you've used it. Does the program work off file names or something, well, more proprietary to each file? Make sense? There are probably a ton of instances for me where I have the same image saved with different names in a few different places. Stupid, I know.

- g -
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Chuck Steenburgh, Photographer
Lexington | VA | USA | Posted: 6:43 PM on 12.04.12
->> You definitely need to establish a clear digital storage hierarchy going forward. That will keep your files organized in the future, and you can gradually move parts of your collection to the new "structure" - I've been doing this for years gradually making it more and more efficient and organized.

The sports images are easy - they are grouped by college years (since that is 95% of what I do sports-wise) into subfolders with the date, sport, and score all incorporated into the folder name.

Personal files are more complex, but I have major categories like "Family," "Friends," "Travel," Flora," etc., and, like with sports, subfolders with dates and brief subjects.

Nothing fancy - no keyword entries, no databases to maintain or get corrupted - just basic Windows naming and search tools and an easily backed-up structure.
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Bradley Leeb, Photographer
Champaign | IL | USA | Posted: 7:34 PM on 12.04.12
->> I know this doesn't answer the original question, but it is a follow-up to Chuck's comment about organizing files.

One of the things I'm doing for family photos is I have a folder called "Event", in which I have subcategories of "Birthdays", "Holidays", etc. When I create a folder for an event, I also create a shortcut of the folder. I then have a folder called "Year" in which I have subfolders for each year. I copy and paste the shortcut into the appropriate year's folder. That way when I go to look for something, if I know what year it was, I just go to that year. If I know what kind of event it was, I go to the events folder.

For sports work, I have a folder titled "Event" which has subcategories of "College Football", "High School Football", etc. When I create a shortcut, it gets pasted into the year of the game, as well as a subfolder in the "Client" main folder I also have created.
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Clark Brooks, Photo Editor, Photographer
Urbana | IL | USA | Posted: 10:57 PM on 12.04.12
->> @GJ - Chuck's advice is what I would recommend. Find a system that is logical for the way your brain thinks that will serve you now and for the future. Then, slowly migrate your previous system to the new one. Keep in mind every so often you may have to tweak it a bit.

Because the way my A.D.D. driven brain works, using a date-driven folder system is the most logical approach for myself. Having random, unrelated files stored without some logical, systematic approach would drive me nuts. I also think of every file as piece of inventory (which it is) and give every file a unique name/number. This allows for searches for a specific photo on a HDD or DVD archive very, very quickly.

My file archive system is set up by: YEAR -> MONTH -> EVENT -> FILENAME. I keep one year's assignments/shoots on one HDD and one backup drive.

The YEAR-MONTH thing is pretty self explanatory. The EVENT folder is always set up as "event date - event", ie: 06-17-10 World Cup South Africa vs Mexico. The FILENAME always starts with the year it was shot and then a string of characters that describes the event, followed by the file number - ie: 10wcupsavmex_10.

This system has served me very, very well. When a client or order system sends me a filename, I can immediately determine what year it was shot and what the event was. The above file was shot is a World Cup match between the USA and Mexico in 2010. When analyzing my website traffic I can quickly determine by the filename what images or assignments are popular at in real time with Google Analytics.

Furthermore, to make retrieval faster, using the simple DIR command in DOS, I generate a text file that list every file stored on every piece of storage media in my archive. The text files are labeled by the media ID (hard drives are named by years while DVD/CDs are numbered) and kept together dedicated folder.

When I need to locate a file, I can have window search for the file by looking through all the plain text files in the library folder for the filename. When the search feature finds the filename in a text file, it list it and all the txt files (which equals the storage media) the text string is found. Then it is a matter of pulling the CD/DVD or dropping the HDD into the dock to retrieve the file.

HTH
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Clark Brooks, Photo Editor, Photographer
Urbana | IL | USA | Posted: 10:59 PM on 12.04.12
->> For more ideas and structures to chew on, here is an old thread where this was discussed before.

http://www.sportsshooter.com/message_display.html?tid=36143
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James Durbin, Photographer
Midland | Texas | USA | Posted: 12:27 PM on 12.05.12
->> Lots of good advice here on file management. Ultimately you have to come up with a system that works for you.
Regarding the hardware aspect of it, I'll be putting together a redundant dual drive system soon where I'll put all my DVDs onto the hard drive. I want the redundancy in case one drive fails, and you can buy these systems to be set up in this manner. I was recommended that the system be part of my home network, so I can transfer the files wirelessly via my wifi. I'm still not sure if I will go that route, but I do like that I could then keep the drive itself hidden and do all my archiving while sitting on my couch.
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Butch Miller, Photographer
Lock Haven | PA | USA | Posted: 12:40 PM on 12.05.12
->> The DAM Book by Peter Krogh ... it is available at the usual sources, just make sure you get the latest edition. (DAM = Digital Asset Management)

Peter describes how to create an archive foundation that can stand the test of time that will work with most all major applications (i.e. - Lightroom, Aperture, Photo Mechanic, Media Pro, etc.) that can create easy to access catalogs across all major platforms. It is also easily modified for your own personal needs.
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Aaron Jaffe, Photographer, Student/Intern
San Diego | CA | USA | Posted: 2:45 PM on 12.05.12
->> What sort of hard drive systems do you all use and would recommend? I am looking at a Drobo because it is so inexpensive and seems reliable from reviews, but I would love to hear more ideas.
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James Broome, Photographer
Tampa | FL | US | Posted: 3:04 PM on 12.05.12
->> As far as drive systems go, I can't say enough good things about Synology's offerings - specifically, their DS4xx line of 4-bay NAS units. Mine is a couple of years old and sits in a closet hard-wired to my gigabit network.

I had a drive fail in it a few weeks ago. Picked up a new drive, pulled the old one out, put in the new one, and the unit copied the redundant data over. No data loss & only about 20 minutes of downtime.

For catastrophic redundancy, another unit can be purchased and set up in another physical location from your home/office then set to mirror the other unit. It's like cloud backup without the monthly costs.

http://www.synology.com/products/product.php?product_name=DS413&lang=us
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David G. McIntyre, Photographer, Photo Editor
Hong Kong | . | CHINA | Posted: 9:20 PM on 12.05.12
->> Perrone,

The program you suggested is only for PC's. Is there a Mac alternative?
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Jim Pierce, Photographer
Waltham | MA | USA | Posted: 9:37 PM on 12.05.12
->> G.J., Aaron,

I looked into the drobo and the like but I just went with two external HD's. After each event I simply drag and drop to each. When they get full I print out the windows explorer view that shows what directories are on on each, they are the same so a duplicate backup. It is simple, works for me, and much less money than a Drobo and less complicated.

as far as organizing files I call a folder say HS Fall Sports 2012, then in this go all the HS games I shot in the fall of 2012. Same for T&I the league name/year and then directories for the teams T&I and action for the teams in that league.

Jim
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Marvin Gentry, Photographer
Birmingham | AL | USA | Posted: 9:41 PM on 12.05.12
->> I use external hard drives and I would assume to check the duplication of files you would have to have all the drives connected to the computer. What's the most external hard drives anyone has connected at one time using a USB hub/s?
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Jim Pierce, Photographer
Waltham | MA | USA | Posted: 10:39 PM on 12.05.12
->> Marvin, I have 4 connected, no hub straight to the computer. Had a card put in to add 4 additional ones to what my MB already had. I have 2 in the front and 10 or so in the back

No problems have about 2.5 years worth of images at my disposal older images are on other hard drives clearly labeled unhook one ad plug one of these in and find the image.

Jim
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Greg Kendall-Ball, Photographer, Assistant
Columbia | MO | USA | Posted: 10:43 PM on 12.05.12
->> I'm closely following this thread...I just started this process myself this fall. I left my newspaper and had my archives and personal stuff strewn over three portable HDs and a pile of DVDs...

I figured out the easiest way to try to get a handle on them all was to create a blank, clean library in Lightroom, and ingest every single image into it(COPY, not move), sorted into folders based on YYYY/MM/DD naming conventions. It accomplished a few things- it put all the photos in one place (my backups still exist in a couple of other places), and allowed me to go through and see which ones were true duplicates and which were resized versions of the same files. It's based off the EXIF data, and so far seems to have done the trick.

Now, whenever I have free time, I go through a folder (one month at a time), and delete the cruft, and keyword/tag the ones I want to keep. It's a sort of nuclear option with regard to any previous organizational structure you had, but my previous system sucked anyway...

Eventually, I'll have all the photos organized, at which point I'll make redundant backup copies, and a resolve to stay more organized going forward.
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Clark Brooks, Photo Editor, Photographer
Urbana | IL | USA | Posted: 1:02 AM on 12.06.12
->> @Marvin
My desktop has four internal drives and at one time I had six USB drives connected. Now, I generally have only three additional drives connected. One is a docking SATA dock where I can swap archive drives as needed.
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Kevin M. Cox, Photographer
Galveston & Houston | TX | US | Posted: 7:57 AM on 12.06.12
->> I used Tidy Up to clean up the really old digital archives at the newspaper a few years back: http://www.hyperbolicsoftware.com/TidyUp.html

As for hardware, I'm using ReadyNAS units at home.
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Clark Brooks, Photo Editor, Photographer
Urbana | IL | USA | Posted: 1:23 PM on 12.07.12
->> Above, I wrote: "My file archive system is set up by: YEAR -> MONTH -> EVENT -> FILENAME.... The FILENAME always starts with the year it was shot and then a string of characters that describes the event, followed by the file number - ie: 10wcupsavmex_10. "

I'm currently working on three book projects. Two require images shot in the past four years. The third, most of the images were shot between 2002-2004, which to my dismay, was before I started using the system mentioned above. Finding the files for the first two books was a breeze. The book using the images from 2004 and earlier are taking forever to locate because I did not establish a consistent naming format nor use the date in the folder or filename.

Like G.J., over time I will have update five, may be seven years of inventory to the new structure to make locating images as easy as it is in the current archive structure.

The point, I would like to make is, once you decided on a structure, see how fast it takes to locate the files within your system. Do basic tests based on different parameters. What if you only have the filename to go on? What if you only have the year or day it was shot to go on? What if you are looking for a certain individual or moment? Running test situations will help you workout the bugs in any system you incorporate into your workflow.
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Debra L Rothenberg, Photographer
New York | NY | USA | Posted: 11:27 PM on 12.07.12
->> G.J-here's what works for me, and I can usually locate and image in about 5 minutes:
every shoot I do, I create a folder with the name of the event. Since a lot of my clients have me shooting several jobs each month, I will have the client name/date of shoot. The folder is then put in my external HD. If i am shooting something such as a concert or celebrity event, each file name has that person's name. When the HD is full, I copy each folder's name and it goes on a spread sheet. When I am asked for an image, all I do is search for the person's name and it tells me which of my MANY harddrives it is on.
I am finishing up my first book (which will be out in fall 2013) and this system really helped me locate images I took 32 years ago of a specific show.
This past year I had a bunch of photos in a book on the history of the Today Show and was asked for specific images of the hosts with certain performers. All I had to do was search the person's name/Today Show and it told me which HD it was on.
Hope this helps.

Debbie
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Ian Halperin, Photographer
Plano(Dallas) | TX | USA | Posted: 7:52 AM on 12.08.12
->> Ger: I have the DAM book. You are welcome to borrow it.
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Robert Seale, Photographer
Houston | TX | USA | Posted: 8:22 AM on 12.08.12
->> Greg is right on the money. Establish a Lightroom library and save everything there moving forward.

Your hierarchy on the left side of the program should look something like this:

Drive name (GJM_001 or whatever)
2012 (Folder)
20121207_Assignmentname (folder)
then the actual photos named with the above convention
When you fill a drive, start a new one (GJM_002 or whatever)
and continue with a folder for the year and then the assignments - always in date order.

If you do this, you'll be able to find duplicates by sorting by capture time and looking at metadata - and it's a good way to keep track of future stuff moving forward.

I highly recommend Seth Resnick's D65 book or his web seminars.
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Robert Seale, Photographer
Houston | TX | USA | Posted: 8:28 AM on 12.08.12
->> also, it goes without saying, but: shoot raw.
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Clark Brooks, Photo Editor, Photographer
Urbana | IL | USA | Posted: 6:09 PM on 12.08.12
->> " .. also, it goes without saying, but: shoot raw."

I second that.
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G.J. McCarthy, Photographer
Dallas | TX | US | Posted: 12:30 PM on 01.02.13
->> **BUMP**

Hey amigos and amigas:

First off, sorry for not replying sooner -- thank you SOOOO much for all the thoughtful replies and good info.

I definitely like all the suggestions on ways to move forward with my archiving. Just to make sure it didn't get lost in the fray, though, my original questions still is:

Is there any sort of easy (relatively speaking) and efficient way to sort through and archive what I already have in place?

Again, the big problem is that over the years I redundantly archived a lot of things in several different places, without any cohesive plan (such as key-wording, folders, etc.). I'm hoping to be able to start consolidating all that current data and, first and foremost, weeding out all the duplicates.

That last bit is BY FAR the biggest issue for me; the most pressing.

Once that's out of the way, I'll work to establish a better system of archiving and just start everything over ... if that makes sense.

Thanks again for all the useful info, friends. You all are very kind with your time and help.

- gerry -
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Cooper Neill, Photographer, Assistant
Austin | Tx | USA | Posted: 1:58 PM on 01.02.13
->> G.J. I had a similar problem last year - years of photos in one folder with no special file names or keywords - I ended up loading the folder in Photo Mechanic and using the sort function by capture time then using the rename file and copy/move features to add them to my new hierarchy.


As for the duplicates - I'm as lost as you are.
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Clark Brooks, Photo Editor, Photographer
Urbana | IL | USA | Posted: 2:03 PM on 01.02.13
->> GJ: "Is there any sort of easy (relatively speaking) and efficient way to sort through and archive what I already have in place?"

Nope.... Since you didn't have a system in place to begin with you are going to have to roll up the sleeves and get grubby. Its kinda like the folks who throw all their receipts from the year in a box and at tax time have sort and catalog them. Except you pretty much did this with your files.

The most logical, quickest way I see addressing your current need would be to start by buying an clean hard drive and create folders for every year that you are archiving. Then go to your archive and move folders over based on the year they were shot. Once that's done, pick a year and create folders for each month. Now, move the folders to each of the months they were shot.

From this point on, I wouldn't worry about giving every image a unique filename as some of us suggest above once you've sorted everything down to the month. That's something you want to do now and carry forward. Instead, as you access images from a folder to post, publish, submit or otherwise make available to the public, rename all the files in that folder, add keywords / captions and backup the folder to another drive with the same folder structure. This way your archive matures as quick or slowly as you need it to. Make sense?

HTH
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Clark Brooks, Photo Editor, Photographer
Urbana | IL | USA | Posted: 2:17 PM on 01.02.13
->> "As for the duplicates - I'm as lost as you are."

Once you have the files in the correct folders on the new drive, you could go through month by month and delete duplicate files. Then create mirror or back of drive with the new sorted structure.

The drive(s) with the unorganized files could then be;

1. Reformatted and used for back or primary drives in the future.

2. If you are like me and don't trust hard drives, drive controllers and Murphy (as in Murphy's Law), you simply put the drives in anti-static bags and store them in a shock resistant box. Quarterly, take them out and spin them up to keep them lubed and put them back in the box. If some reason, your primary and backup drives fail, you can always repeat the sort process again and recover your inventory.

3. Reformatted and used to create a third backup set for offsite storage. You can never have too many copies of files, especially if you are using them to derive an income from them.
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Kevin M. Cox, Photographer
Galveston & Houston | TX | US | Posted: 4:37 PM on 01.02.13
->> Gerry, like I said above, there are tons of programs out there that will find the duplicate images for you and allow you to pick which copy to keep. I've used TidyUp! in the past. This one looks like a good option as well with a free trial: http://macpaw.com/gemini
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Delane B. Rouse, Photographer, Photo Editor
Washington | DC | US | Posted: 5:41 PM on 01.02.13
->> Kevin....Gemini is an AWESOME find. I just bought it and it saved me about 1GB already. That's just on my main HD!!!

You are the man!!!
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Stanley Leary, Photographer
Roswell | GA | USA | Posted: 5:52 PM on 01.02.13
->> I use Cumulus single user for my database. It is made by Canto.

It originally came with the Nikon scanner back in the early 90s and I have been using it ever since.

http://mydigitalassetmanagement.com/

The trick is when you ingest photos to put captions and keywords on all images. Even just basic will be better than nothing.

All images use date and time for file name. This way all my images have a unique file name. I do not search images using the file name, because the caption and keywords are better suited for that purpose.

I personally think way too many photographer try to use folders and file names to substitute for solid captions and keywords. Stock agencies base their systems on the captions and keywords and not whee it sits on a computer.

I burn DVDs and ingest those into the software and then know where the disk is when I need to pull the images. While this helps me create the database, this isn't the only location for the images, just the one I use for the database.

While I do not have every image on my Macbook Pro, I do have every image in the database as a thumbnail. When I search I can see based on thumbnails if that is the image I am looking for.
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Kent Nishimura, Student/Intern, Photographer
Honolulu | HI | USA | Posted: 6:21 PM on 01.02.13
->> Gerry,

I think archiving images as Crayon drawings is brilliant ;)

cool update!

//K
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Jim Karczewski, Photographer, Assistant
Hammond | IN | USA | Posted: 7:08 PM on 01.02.13
->> Auslogics, just FYI, does not base itself on file-names. Well, you can tell it to ignore that and the date as well. What it uses is something called MD5 for comparison (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MD5) in short, each file (in theory) will have it's own unique 128bit key. So Duplicate File Finder creates an MD5 for every file and then shows you any files with dupes.

I've used this program quite frequently and for finding duplicates it's a wonderful space saving tool!
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Jim Karczewski, Photographer, Assistant
Hammond | IN | USA | Posted: 7:10 PM on 01.02.13
->> FYI, if you are looking for something MAC based, just search for MD5 comparison programs. There has to be something like that available for Mac.. I would think...
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Trent Nelson, Photographer
Salt Lake City | UT | USA | Posted: 7:37 PM on 01.02.13
->> Gerry, you've done the first step properly, and that is this:

Shoot for ten years before getting started archiving.

That will make everything tremendously easy.

Here's what I would do, and no, I didn't read through anyone else's response and don't care if I'm repeating.

Start by making a folder for each year you've got photos of.
Drag your photos into the folder matching the year they were shot.
Don't worry about filenames or any further folder BS. captioning and key wording is more important than filenames and folder names.
Import them all into a Lightroom catalog (optionally make a catalog for each year to break up the work).
Use Lightroom to sort through things, but more before you dig into that thankless task...
Copy your entire archive to an encrypted external hard drive... Two if possible (keep the second one somewhere other than your house, like in your trunk—after all, it's encrypted).

Next option, buy a copy of ARQ, a backup program for (I think) $30 that will upload encrypted backups to Amazon's Glacier service, which will run you one cent per gigabyte per month.

Lastly, make sure the changes to captions/keywords you make in Lightroom get synced to your files. You can either do this manually or go to Catalog Settings and turn on the "Automatically write changes into XMP"
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Thread Title: Looking for advice on archiving tons of photos
Thread Started By: G.J. McCarthy
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