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Wednesday, 13 May 2015


Tiers make sense, though I think I'd to go tier 2 for cloud backup. I have 60,000+ raw files and take up over 1TB of space in my "base tier". A lot of it wouldn't be missed terribly if it were lost; some of it needs to go now, but I haven't gotten around to it. Cloud storage for that much data isn't all that cheap. (I could back up jpegs). And on DSL, backing up is a time consuming proposition. I'm not sure I'd want to bother downloading it all from cloud storage in the event I lose local copies. Meanwhile, local storage is dirt cheap, so I'll keep physical copies of all of it and contemplate a cloud backup of more important stuff.

I had that same KM 28-75/2.8 for my 7D. It was my go to "people lens" for a couple years before I bought a pair of primes (Minolta 28/2 and an old 85/1.4). It was a nice lens on APS-C.

By the way, on those 60+K files, one thing I've started to do is export some out into separate catalogs, so they don't clutter up my views. Over the years, I've shot many school concerts, softball games, dance recitals and other events that I like to hang onto, but really don't need to be looking at regularly. (The better shots of friends & family, yes, but the majority of shots from those events, no).

RE: Tiered archiving...
There is no point to the second tier, at least for personal photography; Making it is just busy work.
There only need to be two: The giant archive of originals, and the smaller, special group possessing known value.

Very interesting and astute observation.
I have focussed my archiving through Lightroom. I created a smart collection of all 4 star or better images. I should really back these up separately.
I also print my "really good" images, or at least I will when I replace my printer...

Mike, sounds like a good strategy - and I do it myself, but one major question I have had is,

I know what's in there, but when I'm gone, and say my grandchildren or great grandchildren might be curious about what it was like from their grandpa's perspective,

How will they get a good context? I am talking of course about keywording, but also beyond... I do use keywording, and I have Lightroom collections categorized by subject, date, location, people.

If I had to create a little story (useful) for each of my best photos, that would be relatively easy, there aren't that many.

But if I want to create a narrative of my family's life, our travels, experiences, etc - I would include photos that have emotional importance, or any other kind of importance, and these photos might not have been the best, but are relevant to the "story".

I guess I am a bit torn about documenting my life vs focusing on what I consider my very best photos, and how to not just preserve, but communicate this to the future. I also guess I have this dilemma because I am not a professional photographer...

Would appreciate to hear yours and other's thoughts on this...

For those who say cloud storage isn't cheap, Amazon Prime now includes unlimited photo storage, and they're happy taking my RAWs. I'm sure photographers aren't the intended audience, but there are few enough of them I expect we'll get lost in the crowd.

It seems to me that this structure mimics a simple project workflow: Tier 2 would be the work prints (in a digital workflow perhaps the ones flagged for individual post-processing)--these are the shots worth captioning, filing and considering for the final presentation. Tier 3 would be the final project--the book or exhibit, etc.

In other words, this endeavor requires an editing pass or two. And I think that's the rub for a lot of us. But it's also an opportunity.

So it might be helpful to face facts and approach this as a photographic project, which will require one to first of all state what the project is, exactly. That statement, in turn, will help us proceed.

For example, it may be clarifying to approach one's family snapshots as a documentary project. Of course, many artists do undertake projects to document their family, and some even make careers of it, but such an approach can help all of us simply because it's easier to work with a clearly stated, somewhat objective goal in mind.

Another benefit: With a project-oriented approach, people like Michael C. (which I suspect include many of us TOP readers) would have to treat the fine art aspirations and the "my life" documentary as separate projects (that happen to draw from the same pool of photos).

Yes, that makes for two editing projects instead of one, but it's two clear, simple editing goals rather than one muddled, conflicted one. In this case, we'd wind up with two Tier 2 piles and two Tier 3 piles--one of each for each project.

Sure, there's going to be some redundancy, but there's nothing wrong with that when it comes to backups and archives; in fact, redundancy's the point.

The problem with tiers is that my family and friends always surprise me by picking out completely different images than the ones I pick as my best. They're completely unconcerned with an image's technical or artistic characteristics. They care mostly about who's in each photo and whether they look fat or old.

I have my RAW files on Lightroom, then anything that scores over 3 stars be it personal family stuff or blog related stuff gets put on Flickr. The best of the non personal stuff goes to 500pix and anything that I think can sell goes to RedBubble. For photo projects the best 16 shots get printed and the mounted onto 16x20 mattboards and then after exhibiting get put to storage in solander boxes. Family related photos get printed up as Blurb or Apple books.

I am the keeper of the family photos and have them going back to the 1880s. My concern is that I have no children and my nieces and nephews are just not interested so I'm under no illusion that all of my photos are destined for landfill when I die. Come my 60th birthday I have decided that my job as family documentarian will cease, I shall print the photos up in a book and hand one to each nephew and niece and say it is your job now. Giving them over as a book means I can caption the photos so they know what they are looking at. I'm nearly at the end of scanning the negs and slides (up to November 1987 now) and then I'll just edit them down.

To facilitate this you can add keywords in Lightroom such as "Tier 1", "My Favorites", etc. You can mark those keywords as not to be exported, so they stay within the catalog.
Then you can set up Smart Collections using whatever criteria you want (e.g. has "Tier 1" or has 4+ stars) to easily find the important images and either export a catalog of them or export as JPEGs, etc. And you don't have to move the images out of their "home" folders if you don't want to.

There may be images which are important to you but visually not of "4-star" quality, so having multiple criteria for identifying the important images can be very useful.

Save your all your raws, forget jpegs or tiff's. Raw conversion is just getting better and better. In the film world it would be save your negatives or slides, print paper, etc is just getting better and better.

Mike, I'm getting a bit frustrated reading about these overly complicated schemes that sound like great intentions that will never be implemented.

In my work life, I'm an IT analyst who advises large enterprises on a wide range of issues. My advice is to back up to the cloud. If you are nervous about one vendor, back your files up to two. You can get unlimited storage for a nominal amount. Your ISP will sell you unlimited bandwidth for a nominal amount. Your files will be backed up automatically without having to think about it. You can access them from anywhere in the world. You can sync them with multiple devices.

Stop with the Rube Goldberg schemes. They are not necessary in 2015.

Maybe I'm just old-fashioned, but I don't understand photographers that don't ever get their photos printed. Just doesn't make sense to me. Why buy real cameras?

I think the first and second tiers make sense. It is not too hard to separate the good shots from the average or dud shots. The third tier is much more difficult. Shots that you think are just 'good' now, can strike you as very good when you look at them in a year's time. Similarly, distance in time can make you downgrade material you once thought was great. Personally I would do the first stage of separating the sheep from the goats and leave it at that. You will already have cut your archive down by three-quarters, or whatever.

This is my archiving method:
1: Save the digital files in an external drive
2: Print the best shots and put them in a box in my house.

You can ask: and if you lose both the drive AND the prints in a freak accident?

The answer is: clearly they were no meant to survive to posterity.

Of all the things which could go wrong who would have thought that Leica Monochrom DNG files could not only crash Apple OSX Photos app but also destroy the Photos Cloud library? There is a Leica advisory on this.

I do something similar with my photos, but with the reduced price of storage these days, I can afford to have tiered storage in the cloud relatively cheaply.

On premise, I have hard drive backups (obvious). For my finished photos (in JPEG), I send these to Google Drive. For my RAW masters, Lightroom catalogs, which obviously take more room, I send these to Amazon Glacier -- cold storage for offsite emergency retrieval for the day I need it.

Glacier is a great service and it gives me the peace of mind I need.


Cheers, Pak

Speaking of Zander, how about an updated photo of him? What's he up to? How'd his YouTube venture go?

I relatively frequently (too frequently; it's often triggered by deaths) find myself scanning photos from the 1970s (and later) that I haven't previously scanned or printed, and exhibiting them or even having them published (I even get paid for those every now and then). If I were following much of the archiving advice I see here and elsewhere, I would not be able to do that, and quite a lot of my status and identity as a photographer comes from doing that.

Possibly (I'm not fully convinced) if I had done the full proper careful review and tagging of each photo when I first took it, I would have identified these as keepers. But as I say, I'm not convinced; sometimes it's what would be the secondary (or even tertiary) photo of a celebrity, near the person who becomes important later (too often by dieing but sometimes for other reasons). Also, I've found that as both the technology and my skills advance, I've been able to do things with photos I skipped over as technical failures when I was in highschool.

Plus if I've learned one thing in 60 years of life, it's that my opinions change over time and I'm not fitted to keep up 100% with administrative work all the time.

I kind of think much of the discussion of editing is strongly oriented towards artistic photographers, and I'm not primarily oriented that way; I'm primarily a documentary photographer. There's overlap; the best documentary photos are also deserving of artistic consideration, but sometimes a photo is important almost entirely for the moment it captures, and would never be published just as art.

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