Tim Page and the burden of DAM

February 27, 2011

Reading this Tim Page story in Market Watch about the burden of Digital Asset Management, or lack there of, is a heartbreaker.  Tim is considered one of the legendary Vietnam photographers in league with Eddie Adams and Nick Ut.  When the recent flooding in Brisbane filled his basement his archive was at risk.

Tim Page "The Universal Soldier"

Matt Murphy, who manages the archive at  Magnum is quoted with a very profound but simple message that all media creators should take to heart. “It’s important that they [photographers] make sure their work is cared for and that they make those arrangements in a timely way… Some guys wait too long.”

Waiting too long is like letting the jungle consume the monument, one vine at a time.  Do you still have some ZIP disks (SCSI) laying around, or some of those original Kodak DCS 420 1.3Mp files gently aging in your archive?  They need to be migrated to new media and converted to current formats or you’ll need a digital forensic scientist to recover them.

A lot of my friends come to me asking for DAM advise.  Here’s what I say to everybody – Start today, stick to a workflow, batch you tasks, move backward slowly (shoot to shoot, month to month, year to year etc) and remember; if you don’t do it who will?

In Tim’s day it was another three ring binder with more slide pages in the basement, hoping the flood would never happen, today the digital mantra is “not if you will have a catastrophic system failure but when”.

To anticipate the inevitable system failure I stick to a consistent workflow, validate my archive and backup regularly. Beyond that, I do my best to keep a second backup off site.

There are two resources that I would HIGHLY recommend to the non-gamblers amongst us who need a scalable and sustainable Digital Asset Management system: Peter Krough’s DMA Book and the best practices system support of Marc Mintz at The MacXperts.

Krogh’s 3-2-1 Backup System:

  • 3 Copies of your Images
  • 2 Types of Media (HD and Online or DVD’s etc)
  • 1 Stored Offsite

My advice to my friend and to you, buy the best rated hard drives, always by two if you need one because you NEED a backup, format them correctly and backup often. To make the process of backing up, archiving and recovery easier I use all of the following software solutions.

SuperDuper – Bootable Backups, they really work. I’ve done entire photo shoots using the backup drive.

ChronoSync – File migration and backup. Validation is a huge advantage to this software.

Synchronize X – File migration.

Adobe DNG Converter – Data Validation is essential.

I am a Mac.com user and they have online storage as part of the annual fee (10Gb not much space). I have a copy of my portfolio backed up there. There are also a bunch of good online Backup Services:

Rob at A Photo Editor also has some good info about online storage solutions.  Catastrophic system failure will happen to you. Don’t let it become a cascading loss to your system, assets, archive and legacy. Remember Tim Page and get backed up NOW!

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Michel Leroy
Michel Leroy is an award-winning photographer based in New York City. Working with a select team of professional creatives at 2X Productions LLC they create advertising campaigns and social media solutions for advertising, media and corporate clients. Repeatedly clients including The Food Network, Adidas, Nike, Intel, Lenovo, GE, Pfizer, Bayer and L'Oreal have trusted Michel Leroy to connect their brands to customers through photographs with insight and narrative. Michel Leroy is a brand ambassador for Manfrotto US, Lastolite by Manfrotto and the range of Vitec brands in the professional photographic community.

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