Digital Asset Management – Part 6

An Image library should be protected.  Unprotected images are irreplaceable, and re-creating an image database is a daunting thought.  Loss occurs in different ways.  Hardware can fail, be stolen, or be destroyed by fire or other tragedy.  Images can be compromised and even stolen in cyberspace.  The best way to protect your images against this is to be prepared.

Internet options for protecting your image library include using an online photo sharing site or upload them to you own website.(23)  The drawbacks to these options are price and practicality.  Libraries can quickly get so large that this option becomes impractical and cost-prohibitive.  An alternate method is to copy your images and database files to CDs or DVDs, or purchase hardware such as an external hard drive to store your images.  A CD-R can store approximately 650MB of photos and a DVD-R can store 4GB of photos.(24)  A 160GB external hard drive can store approximately 32,000 pictures at 5 mega pixel resolution each.(25)  Tiger Direct sells a 160GB external hard drive for $129.99.(26)  Whatever method you choose, keeping a backup copy of your files in a safe, off-site location is the best way of protecting your investment, as is regularly updating the backup files on whatever method is chosen.

Posting images on the Internet opens up another type of theft.  By posting low resolution images on the Internet with information in the image’s metadata as to how to obtain a full-size version of the image is one way to protect your image while still being able to get exposure.  It is possible to disable the downloadable click feature of an image and in some cases may be appropriate to do so.  Embedding purchasing and copyright information into all of your images is another way to protect your images.

Purchasing rights can include:

One time rights
First rights
pays extra for privilege of using first
Exclusive rights
guarantees solo use within a market area.
can sell the image to no competing markets
Second rights
gives rights to reproduce after it has appeared elsewhere
Works for hire-work made by an employee
rights maintained by employer
Promotion rights
use of work for promotion – as in an exhibition
Royalty free
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A well designed image library can be one of the most useful tools a photographer can own.  Once established, it cuts down on clerical work, leaving more time to create.  It can even be used as an artistic tool; viewing images grouped via keyword search, for example, can inspire the user to create a new project.  Periodically searching the database by keyword, category, or other criteria, can reveal shortcomings in the inventory.  For example, doing a search using the keyword, “Animals” may yield many images of cats, horses and birds, but very few images of dogs.  The image library becomes a tool, revealing gaps in the, “inventory” and what images may need to be acquired.

The need for an image library reaches beyond the scope of the photographer to include graphic designers, web designers, fine artists, and any field that uses visuals to communicate.  Image libraries store collections of visual data.  The fine artist can store many images of projects as a digital portfolio.  These digital portfolios are easy to copy onto a CD and can be edited to suit a specific need, whether it be soliciting a gallery for a show or looking for employment.  Web and graphic designers build on this application, incorporating the actual database images into their work.  Other professionals often rely on images to satisfy client need, from advertising to producing an annual report.

Images are always in demand.  Having an efficient, functional image library should be requisite for every visual professional.

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