My Damn DAM Process

My Damn DAM

My DAM is a mess.

For many photographers, going into depth on digital asset management (DAM) can be good and bad. Good, because sometimes it’s interesting to know how other photographers manager their photos. Bad, because – well, maybe we should be concentrating on something else.

For me, especially lately, my system has been really crazy. In short, here’s how I do things now:

  1. Load my photos from my card reader into Lightroom as DNG files, organized by date
  2. Go through and mark my favorites, and process them
  3. Export the processed photos as high-quality JPGs into dated folders on an external drive
  4. Load those JPGs into Aperture, tag them, get the metadata right, and organize them by months and days, by year.

From Aperture, I take those photos and send them everywhere else: Flickr, Facebook, photo books, calendars, etc. But before they get to Aperture, my photos are filtered and sorted two different ways.

Why not just keep them in Lightroom? I like Apertures metadata handling, organizational scheme, and export options better (here’s my setup). It works like I like to work.

Why not just start in Aperture? Because I like Lightroom’s post processing setup way better, including using VSCO for editing.

For a long time, this setup has worked surprisingly well. One place to process photos, one place to organize and create print projects with them. Except last week when I went to print a photo book of my daughter:


Bonk! Aperture no longer lets you print photo books or calendars (this after I had done all the hard work already).

So why use Aperture anymore if one of the main benefits has vanished? Good question – one I’m wrestling with. If all that’s left is Aperture’s superior organization methods, then a switch to Lightroom means relearning my tag management and organizational strategy. Plus I have photos in Aperture that do not live in Lightroom, like from my iPhone. All those will have to get moved over and sorted.

When I want to make a photo book, I’ll have to either import photos in Apple’s Photos app on the Mac, or stick with Lightroom and create photo books in there, probably through Blurb. My Flickr setup will have to change. And I’ll have a bunch of tagging and sorting to do.

My plan, so far as I’ve thought about it, is this: continue to use Aperture through the end of the holidays, and use the time in between to slowly migrate my system to a Lightroom-only DAM philosophy.

Aperture was a great program while it lasted. Now that it’s officially on life support, it’s probably time for me to rethink my damn DAM strategy.