Computers make things pretty easy for the most part. As long as you take a moment to actually rename your photos from 'img1052.cr2' to 'TomMcCarthy_24.cr2' then you're well along the way to being able to find that image at a later date. I also have a hierarchy of folders on my hard drive that keeps things in order even if my LightRoom database gets gassed. So to find Tom McCarthy from May 22nd of last year, I'd go into Portraits > Tom McCarthy > 070522 and there they would be. Easy peezy...
Hell, if you're one of those crazy (pronounced '[eyn-l]') people who actually tags their photos with keywords, well then you're in even better shape. The point being that most of us have more digital files than prints and negs but the computer does a lot of the legwork for us. But how about the physical stuff? The prints and developed negatives? How to keep track of them?
I was in Timothy Greenfield-Sanders studio a few weeks ago and he asked me how I keep things straight and I said Lightroom, etc and then he said, "...no, your prints and film". The only answer I had is that I really don't keep them straight. He then took me down and showed me his cataloging system which involves lots of 11x14 and 8x10 print boxes full of polaroid prints and large format film. He's got a coding system starting with letters that correspond to what type of material is in the box, and then a catalog number. All in order on the shelves and shelves that are his life's work. It was very cool. But how to find what you're looking for in those boxes?
In the old days, I guess the answer would be some sort of card catalog like back in your elementary school library, or in my case, like in my father's record stores. But today we have a better option, which is what Timothy uses, a database.
So, in keeping with trying to create a stable foundation to build my body of work on, I'm thinking of starting a database to keep try of my prints and negatives. I've only got a few boxes of each, so it'll probably be a weekends worth of work for me and an unlucky friend, but I think it's got to be done.
I'm a windows guy, so I tend to lean toward Access as the database. I could also use FileMaker Pro, which is what TGS uses, and is cross-platform, but being a computer geek I remember when Filemaker was a punchline in jokes that my sister and I used to about people in her museum industry.
Anyway, I've come up with a first draft of the database record schema. That's fancy database talk for what information I'm going to keep about each print. And here it is:
Type - film/digital
I also did some google searches for anyone who's already got a template set up for such a purpose, but typing in photography database template in google gives you a bunch of scrapbooking crap that's exactly NOT what I'm looking for. I need something that'll scale.
So.. if anyone has gone through this process and has any advice on thematter, please speak up and speak loudly. Opinions on my schema and what I'm invariably missing from it are also welcome. Thanks, and I'll keep you abreast of the progress.