In the last couple of weeks, I’ve changed something very important about my photo library strategy. Previously, when hitting the road, I’ve been leaving behind my primary library and just focusing on the images I take while on the road. I had to change that approach recently, however, because I’ve been home maybe 3 weeks since January 1st. The thought of all of my images being so far away from me wasn’t appealing at all. I knew that I would need some of those images at some point while on the road.
To address this, the last time I was home, I duplicated out my entire image archive onto a 750GB Seagate external hard drive. This drive isn’t nearly as small as my LaCie Rugged drives that I’m really fond of and it requires external power, which is a drag. But, it means that my entire archive is close at hand should the need arise.
Interestingly enough, while I was in San Diego last week shooting the 2007 Emerging Technology Conference, the need did arise. I got a photo request from the San Francisco Chronicle looking for a picture of Kathy Sierra. If this had been last month, I would have had to say, “I’m sorry, I can’t help you.” Instead, I was able to say, “Hold on a minute… yes, I have that photograph. I actually have 8 you can choose from. Hang on a minute and I’ll send you a PDF contact sheet.” The photo editor at the Chronicle was able to choose the photograph he wanted and within a couple of hours, the transaction was wrapped up.
The next day, the LA Times called up and wanted the photo as well. And, of course, I was able to easily help them out as well. In fact, the photo editor at the Times said, “Thanks, duncan. I love that you have a year old photo on your PowerBook while traveling to CA!” Smiles all around. And two happy clients.
Of course, there are some other ways in which you can accomplish the same thing. You can upload all of your photos to a site like PhotoShelter. You could maintain an online backup somewhere else. But both of these solutions suffer from the same basic flaw: You don’t have the same power of Aperture to quickly browse through your images to find the right one. And you don’t have the ability to fine tune the image adjustments before you send the photo off. This last bit was crucial to me as the photo editor at the Chronicle actually picked a photo of Kathy that was previously unpublished and which hadn’t received any exposure/white balance love.
I still want to find an online archive solution that seamlessly maps between my personal library and a website—synching every keyword change and image update along the way. But until I find that utopia, I’ll be holding onto my big library disk and keeping it nearby even when I’m 1000 miles away from home. It’s not elegant. It’s definitly not optimal. But it works.