The DAM Book, 2nd Edition
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
Final Release Date: April 2009
Pages: 496

One of the main concerns for digital photographers today is asset management: how to file, find, protect, and re-use their photos. The best solutions can be found in The DAM Book, our bestselling guide to managing digital images efficiently and effectively.

Anyone who shoots, scans, or stores digital photographs is practicing digital asset management (DAM), but few people do it in a way that makes sense. In this second edition, photographer Peter Krogh -- the leading expert on DAM -- provides new tools and techniques to help professionals, amateurs, and students:

  • Understand the image file lifecycle: from shooting to editing, output, and permanent storage
  • Learn new ways to use metadata and key words to track photo files
  • Create a digital archive and name files clearly
  • Determine a strategy for backing up and validating image data
  • Learn a catalog workflow strategy, using Adobe Bridge, Camera Raw, Adobe Lightroom, Microsoft Expression Media, and Photoshop CS4 together
  • Migrate images from one file format to another, from one storage medium to another, and from film to digital
  • Learn how to copyright images

To identify and protect your images in the marketplace, having a solid asset management system is essential. The DAM Book offers the best approach.

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About the Author
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oreillyThe DAM Book, 2nd Edition

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(3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)


An extraordinary resource

By twriterext

from Loveland, CO

Verified Reviewer


  • In-depth


  • Chapter sequence

Best Uses

  • Expert
  • Intermediate

Comments about oreilly The DAM Book, 2nd Edition:

In the interest of full disclosure:

1. This book was provided at no charge to the reviewers under the O'Reilly User Group Program
2. This review is way overdue
3. This review contains contributions from 2 reviewers, although written by one

In his Introduction, the author, Peter Krogh states that "This book is written for people who are serious about their photographs." He also says "The approach described in this book is not for the casual photographer." Once you start reading the book, the full implications of that statement become clear.

The book is an extraordinary source of information on how to manage many digital photographs--or any "digital assets," including audio and video files, which he mentions only briefly. This is not a book about photo editing--by Photoshop or any other photo editing software application (although he talks about Non-destructive, or Parametric Image Editing in chapter 2).

The key elements of this book, in our opinion, are:

Chapter 3 Metadata
Chapter 4 Organizing and Naming Files and Folders
Chapter 7 Ingestion Workflow

In fact, "workflow" is the primary lesson we obtained from this book. Each of us established different workflows to suit our needs, but both were based on careful study of the author's recommendations. For example, my colleague uses the raw format a great deal, whereas I do not (yet). I developed a workflow for the scans of many very old family photographs. That workflow includes metadata entry to capture as much information as possible about the people and places in those photos. Sadly, many of the people and places in those old photos are no longer identifiable--an excellent demonstration of why Krogh's management techniques are so important.

Metadata, usually defined as "data about data," is fundamental to managing digital photos. Krogh's discussion of this topic was the best we have seen anywhere. He talks about ". . . broad classes (of metadata) . . . mostly measured in how much effort it takes to create the information." That was very important lesson for both my old family photo scans and my own photos. For example, I established a Baseline metadata template that I apply to all of the scans and a different Baseline metadata template that I apply to my photos. In either case, that takes very little effort. Then I add image specific metadata that takes more time.

The use of metadata makes it unnecessary to try to squeeze descriptive information into the file name. The author states emphatically that "The file name does not have to carry important content information about the file." That turns out to be more difficult to understand than you might think. I had to send detailed instructions on how to access the metadata to family members with whom I have shared those old photos. In several cases I even had to recommend a (free) software application that they could use for that purpose. Those family members were expecting to see a description of the photo's content in the file name (an expectation shared, I suspect, by the overwhelming majority of casual photographers).

In his discussion of "The Fine Art of File Naming," the author describes a file naming approach for both the camera original files and what he calls "derivatives (edited photos)." You may not need as many derivatives as the author (unless you are a professional photographer), but his approach (perhaps modified, as I did, to suit your needs) will work equally well for the serious amateur photographer.

Naming a file is not however, the starting point for managing digital photos. That starting point is when you download the photos from your camera(s) to your computer. In Chapter 7, Ingestion Workflow, the author describes a process that includes applying a unique name (in place of the usual combination of letters and numbers), applying "bulk" metadata, backing up the photos, and other tasks.

One criticism of this book, and it is a mild criticism, is that it took me some time, moving back and forth between chapters 3, 4 and 7 (and, to a lesser extent, Chapter 8, Working Files Management) to gain enough of an understanding of Krogh's concepts so that I could adapt them to my less complex needs.

For example, my folder structure for the old family photo scans is very simple--just one folder. However, for my photos, I create a new folder for every photo "event." I define a photo "event" as any occasion where I take photos. It could be a family get-together, a trip into the mountains or just any time I use my camera. Within each of those events I create 4 subfolders: Camera Originals, Working, Archive, Delivery. While it is not necessary to describe in detail in this review the differences between those folders, it is worth noting that I evolved that structure after reading The DAM Book and evaluating the author's recommendations. It is also worth noting that the Camera Originals are just exactly that. They contain no edits and no metadata. That is my preference.

There is much more to this book. Chapter 5 talks about image storage hardware and Chapter 6 talks about backup software and backup strategies. There are chapters on cataloging software and cataloging strategies. The final chapter talks about "Data Migration," which covers how to move many previously unorganized photos into an organized file structure, how to move photos from one storage medium to another and a section on converting film to digital files.

This book is a "must-have" for anyone with more than a passing interest in digital photography. It is an excellent book.

(7 of 7 customers found this review helpful)



By Conrad J. Obregon

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly The DAM Book, 2nd Edition:

Amongst serious photographers, two kinds need to read this book: those who never read the first edition of "the DAM Book"; and those who did. Quite simply, this is essential reading for serious photographers.

Digital Asset Management is the process of storing and recovering digital photographs. It's the nature of digital photography to create lots of images. How does one find them? The folder, no matter how cleverly named, is the digital equivalent of the shoe box. If you filed something under the subject of the photograph, it became hard to find if you only could recall, say, a date, unless you had some sort of cross reference file. You had to rely on memory, and even for young'ons that can sometimes be a problem, to say nothing of old timers. Computer data bases are great for this, but there are all kinds of tricks to using them effectively.

Then there is the fact that sometimes even computers fail. It always astounded me that folks were willing to trust something like a disk drive, where one of the descriptive statistics is "mean time to failure". Read your warranty and you'll see there is no guarantee that covers precious data.

That's where Peter Krogh comes in. He's thought a lot about this and gives the reader the benefit of his thinking from the simplest one-man set up with a backup drive and a DVD burner to elaborate networked computers with problems created by multiple people working on many files simultaneously.

For readers of the first volume, much computer technology has changed. When the first edition was written there was no Lightroom with its integrated solutions or blue ray burners. I remember paying $800.00 dollars for cataloging software and several hundred for a CD burner! There are cheaper solutions available today, and as a result different workflow practices that better utilize the equipment available.

Krogh emphasizes that many of the solutions he discusses may be overkill for the individual non-professional photographer, but the points he makes are to be considered in deciding what kind of DAM system you want. For example, getting a blue ray burner may seem extremely expensive today, but recognizing that blue ray or something similar will be available more cheaply means that we should develop a system that can incorporate the change when the better technology is appropriate.

Along the way, Krogh scatters tips that people with better developed asset management schemes will be happy to learn about. For example, Adobe Bridge, while allowing you to add metadata with your copyright information still has no way to fill in the small field that says an image is copyrighted. Krogh provides a little XML (I think that's right) that one can add to one's preset to deal with this problem.

For most photographers, reading the technical details of an asset management system is nowhere near as interesting as capturing images or even jockeying Photoshop around. Still if you do all that work and you can't find the picture, you won't be happy. I won't say that Krogh impressed me with the second edition, but halfway through I ordered another back-up drive.

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