Monday, September 7, 2009

Glenn's Photo Management System

One of my Facebook friends, Gavin Payne, writes:
How about a new blog entry on how you process all of your images, index them, make the libraries, add text to them etc?
As you wish. Let's see if I can give you the highlights in 15 minutes...
  1. I take a LOT of frames, only a tiny percentage of which I ever show to the world. The pictures are all free on a digital camera, so why not?
  2. On my laptop, I store photos in directories by year and month and setting. e.g. inside directory "2009" is a directory "September" which has a directory "BAR HARBOR".
  3. Inside the setting, I have four working directories: "raw", "web", "UPLOAD" and "UNPROCESSED".
  4. When I download the photos from my camera, they go into "UNPROCESSED" and are immediately deleted from the camera.
  5. I go through UNPROCESSED at my convenience, looking for good photos. I'll first "cherrypick" the very best photos, then I'll go through the rest of them as I have time.
  6. Each photo I choose will be cropped, corrected for color/darkness/etc and resized to 604 pixels across, as suitable for Facebook. (I use Corel Paint Shop, the cheaper equivalent of Photoshop.)
  7. For the clear, crisp quality, I "sharpen" at 604 pixels. (Makes all the difference in the world.)
  8. I save the edited photo under the same name in "UPLOAD".
  9. I move the raw photo I just edited into "raw", along with any original photos I know I won't be doing anything.
  10. Facebook is my main album medium. (I once had my own album system, but Facebook does it better.) After I upload the "UPLOAD" photos to Facebook, I move them into the "web" directory.
  11. If I have time to edit the whole batch, I'll end up having all the original photos in "raw", the upload photos in "web" and the other two directories empty. Then I delete those two directories and have only "raw" and "web" left. I'm done!
  12. More likely, however, I will still have some "UNPROCESSED" photos left by the time I move to the next project. I could come back to these later, but probably not. C'est la vie!
  13. As I pass through my parent's house once or twice a month, I back up my new monthly directories onto some terrabyte hard disks I have. Once I have backed each directory up on two or more media, I can delete the "raw" directories. (I keep the "web" directories because they are small.)
  14. My on-line index ( is of my own construction using Perl. (Remember that I used to be a programmer.) I can't easily explain how it works, but it all routes back to the albums on Facebook.
  15. For every album, Facebook provides a public URL that anyone can use to access the album, even if they are not on Facebook. (Look at the bottom of the album's page.) I use that address but don't have complete confidence that the address won't change. (It has in the past.) To protect myself from future address changes, I have an intermediate system that translates my own preferred address into Facebook's address. For example...

    I have a spreadsheet table I maintain that has both addresses, as well as some other info about each album, and this is what my online indexes are generated from.
  16. My Facebook albums roughly correspond to my monthly directories (e.g. "Bar Harbor"). At the end of each directory, I have a bumper image...
    On that page, I provide my preferred public URL, as well as links to my photo home page and any other albums that are related to this one.
That's my system (or at least all I can think of).

Most people can do everything I can do except the fancy index, but most people don't have hundreds of albums like I do, so it doesn't really matter. You can always create a similar index in html using Facebook's public address, since it has been stable now for over a year. (You could just copy my table at, edit the html and plug in your own album information. I won't object.)