My (in)decision on a new Lightroom catalog has been made irrelevant by the fact that I’ve run out of hard drive space. I’ve been using a convoluted backup “strategy” that resulted in multiple copies of files with multiple backups on multiple drives. From one perspective, this is good, because barring a catastrophe I will always have at least one copy that is valid. In reality, though, I can’t find anything, I don’t know which file is the “right” one, and I’m out of storage space. I could just go buy another drive, but that is only a technical solution to what is a systemic problem.
Over the past week I’ve been thinking about how best to organize my stuff for the future, and reconsidering decisions I made about all of my old stuff.
Part of the problem is history. I have personal digital photos in iPhoto, Aperture, Lightroom, and in scattered folders. I have scans of family slides, negatives, and scrapbooks in a separate system. I have some client work that is self-contained. I have an ongoing project that is completely computer-based and part of my Art Practice1, but isn’t (seemingly) connected to my other work though it could be.2
Here is what I’m working toward:
- Non-client (digital and scanned film) photographs go into one master catalog
- Client photographs each get their own catalog
- Family images (I have decades of slides still to scan) get their own catalog
- Resartus gets its own catalog
- School gets its own catalog (this catalog lives on a portable drive)
This is still separated quite a bit, but it gives me some smaller chunks that can be more easily moved to an archive drive to save active space.
I will also change how I actually handle the new images on import. I use a program called Ingestamatic that names the files based on some EXIF data and then puts a copy in my “negatives” file and puts another copy for Lightroom to see. Previously, when I imported to Lightroom I would make a DNG copy from the 2nd copy.3 I don’t mind making a DNG, but it has finally occurred to me that I don’t need to make a copy of the 2nd copy, I just need to move the 2nd copy into my Lightroom catalog (converting on the way).4
I can’t just delete the existing “2nd” copies because some of them are directly referenced by various catalogs. OOOPS.
So now that I know where I want to be (and how I will do it going forward), how do I get there? As far as I can tell, it’s going to be a combination of tedium and terror, with a bit of nostalgia thrown in for good measure. Some of these images I haven’t seen for years, including many photos of loved ones now deceased. I think, however, I will work backward through time.
First, consolidate all of my non-client non-school non-family Lightroom catalogs. Lightroom has a mechanism for this, and I believe I can merge catalogs without losing any Lightroom edits (no matter where the edit took place).
In the meantime, make sure I’m not triple-dipping on the Resartus catalog, the Family Scans catalog, and the School catalog.
Oh, I need to get that off-site backup thing going, too.
Finally, rearchive the new stuff and delete all of the old stuff. (See? Terror)
I need to get this done, because I need to make some photos before I go batty. Wish me luck.
Pretentious much? ↩
None of this has anything to do with the physical objects. That’s a nightmare. ↩
If you’re counting, that’s three copies, and that’s before backing up. ↩
Debating the merits of Adobe DNG is boring. Don’t go there. ↩
I’ve never intentionally opened Apple’s Photos app, but I may have to in order to prepare the older files. ↩