Book Review: The DAM Book, Second Edition

I was recently reminded of how quickly our world as photographers has changed in the last year or two, and reading the newly-released second edition of Peter Krogh’s ::amazon(“”, “The DAM Book: Digital Asset Management for Photographers’):: drives home that point in spades.

The first edition of Krogh’s book was a revelation for me as a solo photographer, I’d never heard the term “digital asset management” before, and my library, organization and workflow were already bulging at the seams of my ignorance. Krogh’s book came along, and said, “Look, all this organizational stuff sounds like a challenge and a lot of work, but if you follow through, you’ll end up saving yourself a lot more work in the long run.” And he was right, while I am far from the perfect DAM role model, having a more organized workflow and tools to help me with that has really improved my productivity, and left me more time to spend in the field. When I heard about the second edition, I wondered if the book would feel as relevant for me, and in short, the answer is “yes, it is.”

Perhaps it’s just that the concepts are clearer to me now than they were when I read the first edition, but Krogh’s second edition flows better for me than the first edition, more or less breaking down into clusters of chapters that largely deal with core concepts (workflow, metadata, non-destructive image editing), the basic nuts and bolts of file handling (hardware storage devices, backups systems and hardware, file naming, directory organization and arguably the file ingestion chapter), more concrete and tool-specific workflow examples (working files management, and a chapter each on workflows for ::amazon(“B0018VH8S2”, “Lightroom”):: and Bridge/ACR specficially, highlighting the advantages and disadnvatages of each), then a final two chapters on cataloging and, one of the hardest tasks, migrating data from “before DAM” (or from a previous DAM system) into a new workflow, with an eloquent argument for worrying about that process last, not first.

In addition to discussing Bridge/ACR and Lightroom based workflows, Krogh also covers working with ::amazon(“B0013ITQAS”,”Microsoft Expression Media”):: and a nice little product I hadn’t been aware of called ImageIngesterPro. Aperture isn’t discussed at length, Krogh states that the lack of ways of getting a catalog (in the form of DNGs) out of Aperture leaves the Aperture user without a “way out” if that should ever be necessary, and that seems a persuasive argument to me.

I’m sure that many weekend photographers will find this book a little dry, and perhaps think digital asset management is overkill for their needs. On the other hand, for the serious amateur or the professional, having a good introduction to both the whys and the hows of digital asset management is critical to building a productive way of working. For small-shop professionals, even those like myself who already have some semblance of a workflow, there’s a lot of useful ideas and information here, and I don’t know of any other books that cover this quickly changing territory so well. Recommended.

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