Photo Management Software

 This is just my attempt to put down 'requirements' for my own photo management needs. I am currently evaluating various photo management software tools. Since I got my first digital camera, the amount of photos I take has soared. On a week long trip I'll typically shoot thousands of photos. It becomes a major chore to sort them out, tag them, categorize them and archive. I have devised my own system of filing these photos and tagging and geotaggings with a bunch of different software tools. But I'm looking for one tool to do everything. Here's my current system. I have a photos folder with year folders for each year and under each year, I have events/projects folders. Under each such event/project folder I have a NEF folder for storing the RAW files and I store processed JPEGs at the event/project level folder. My workflow is sort of like this:

  1. Connect camera to computer and use Nikon Transfer to copy photos to a new event folder under current year folder. I name the event/project based on activity or subject matter etc. I don't trust SD card readers and never take my SD card out of my camera. I always use the same desktop computer, A home-built Intel Core i7 based system with 80GB SSD drive for system disk and 500GB RAID (SATA) disk for data storage. With Nikon Transfer I always rename the photos with a 5 digit sequence number. The idea is to have each photo I have a unique ID. I know in a couple of years I'll run out of 5 digits, at that point I'll move to 6 digit numbers.
  2. After the photos are on my disk, I fire up Nikon View NX to quickly sort the photos and discard those that are bad immediately and rate those that I really like with one two or more stars as appropriate. I also geo tag all the photos according to their location. My current DSLR camera (Nikon D7000) doesn't have built-in GPS so I geo-tag them by hand. Recently I have also started using a Canon SX 230 HS pocket camera which does have GPS. So when possible I copy the exact location data from the photos on Canon, to the Nikon photos. View NX has a very good geo-tagging support.
  3. Create a new folder NEF and copy all the remaining photos (that I didn't delete because they were bad) to th is NEF folder (under event folder).
  4. Filter photos to only show one or higher start. Then one by one view the photo in more detail and possibly open it in Nikon Capture NX 2 for non-distructive editing.
  5. Save the photo in Capture NX 2. Since editing is non-destructive, I don't copy files. Just use the same file name. Capture NX 2 and NEF format allow me to even create and store multiple versions in the same file.
  6. Then I run a batch process and convert all the files to a web suitable size and color space (2000 pixels, sRGB), and save the resulting JPEG files in the main events folder. The batch process only uses photos rated one start or higher.
  7. I then use Picasa to tag people in the photos. I have configured Picasa to ignore RAW formats and only use .jpegs. I then upload the album to Picasa Web Albums by simply clicking 'Sync' album button.
  8. In rare case I want to print a photo, I'll open the original photo .NEF file in Capture NX 2 and do any color management stuff as required and then output the file. If I'm printing any photo border or other decorations, I'll then output the .NEF as a .JPEG (without color profile) and then use Photoshop Elements to create border, lettering to the photo and then save it back as .JPEG and send it to the printer.

So there you have it. My current work flow. It's quite cumbersome, as I end up using 3 different applications to do my job.