About Thomas Fitzgerald

Thomas is a professional fine art photographer and writer specialising in photography related instructional books as well as travel writing and street photography. 

My Photography Archive Is Finally Tamed

My Photography Archive Is Finally Tamed

My project to sort 10 years worth of images

I wrote a post about two years ago about a project I was undertaking to try and tame my huge archive of photography. (In fact it was two years ago tomorrow). Here's what I wrote:

I'm not the most organised person in the world. I'll be the first to admit that. I've been particularly bad when it comes to keeping my image library sorted. Over the years my collection of photographs has ballooned and gotten completely out of control. The situation has been exacerbated by using different pieces of software over the years and trying different methods of rating and storing. The result of all this is that I have a huge collection of images that needs to be sorted, catalogued and tagged. The idea is to eventually get everything online on my Photoshelter hosted image library.

I started the project in Aperture. I had about 80,000 Images that I needed to narrow down to more useable ones, then sort into categories. After a few months of that attempt I gave up. Well, it was more like I got sidetracked and just didn't have the patience.

Then, earlier this year, I started to try and undertake this mammoth task again. I started by consolidating all of my Lightroom Libraries into one big Library. I then took all of my 5 Star Images and exported them as full resolution Jpegs. I then imported all these images into a new library and began the laborious process of sorting them. I originally started in Aperture (because it's faster with a lot of files), but then after a short period, I moved back to Lightroom because the "set target collection" function really helped speed up the process.

 A single red leaf stands out on the background of other fallen autumn leaves

A single red leaf stands out on the background of other fallen autumn leaves

I started by creating a collection called "selects" and then, going through all the 5 star images and picking the good ones. This was mainly to rule out any duplicates. This wasn't actually too bad. It took a week or so. Once that was done. I went through the selects collection for a second look and added the ones I wanted to use to a new collection called "final picks". This narrowed the whole set of images down to about 10,000.

The next step was to start putting these into categories. I set up a whole bunch of collection sets and collections depending on the subjects. Here's an example of some of them.

Then, I duplicated my picks collection. The reason for the duplicate was, that I wanted to delete the images from the picks collection as I added them to their sorted collections. This makes sure I didn't add an image to more than one collection, and also allowed me to see how I was progressing and how many images I had left.

This took months. Literally months. I would do about a 100 to 200 images a day. Sometimes more, and sometimes less. After a while it gets quite monotonous. Finally, earlier this month I finally completed the sort. It was hard to believe that after two years, I've finally achieved what I set out to do. Well, almost. I still have to add captions and keywords.

Even just having the images sorted makes a huge difference. It's now much easier to find individual shots. The next step is to begin key-wording and captioning, a process which I've already begun. I'm taking it set by set, and the first collection is already online. I wanted to get my Autumn images up while it was still Autumn, and so I concentrated on that. Over the weekend, I managed to add captions and keywords to all 400 or so images in the collection, and it's now up on Photshelter for people to license.

The process was quite educational. The most important thing I learned, was to sort as you go, then you're not left with ten years worth of images to try and catalogue. It was also a great way to re-discover my body of work and see how I've progressed as a photographer. This was really enlightening and helpful. Of course, now I've to sort all the new images I've taken since then, but that's another day's work!

Choosing a raw processor for Fuji X-Trans Files

Choosing a raw processor for Fuji X-Trans Files

Introducing Texture Box One

Introducing Texture Box One