Software to catalogue photo collection?

Discussion in 'Antiques and Collecting' started by Rik, May 9, 2007.

  1. Rik

    Rik Member

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    Hi, i'm looking for some software (windows) to catalogue my photo collection. I don't mean digital photo's but printed photos.
    Anybody with recommendations / experiences in this kind of software?
    if possible, i would also like to use the software to catalogue my photo books.

    thanks for the help

    Rik
    the Netherlands
     
  2. akikana

    akikana Member

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  3. gr82bart

    gr82bart Subscriber

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    Microsoft Access? Excel? Dunno. Good question though. I'd like to see what others come up with. There's a huge percentage of APUGers who are techno-geeks who may have a much better solution.

    Regards, Art.
     
  4. Rik

    Rik Member

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    Art,
    yes Access or Excel i could do myself, but i would like something more sophisticated (and i'm to lazy..), ideally also with an export function to my Ipod...
     
  5. gr82bart

    gr82bart Subscriber

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    Rik,

    This really is a good question. I wonder what a 'URS' would like for this product? Hmmm ... thinking.

    You know, you probably have to tie it to some sort of labeling/numbering system too. Lots to think about here.

    Regards, Art.
     
  6. Rik

    Rik Member

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    Art,
    what's an URS?
     
  7. RH Designs

    RH Designs Advertiser Advertiser

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    I got Fotostation bundled with my Nikon scanner a few years ago and still use it. Recommended. https://www.fotoware.com/ It's image-based so you'll need to scan your images but that's really the only sensible way to catalogue them anyway. IMHO of course :smile: All my negs and slides are catalogued on it.

    Not sure how it would handle books, although there is plenty of space with each image in which to store various details, categories, etc etc.

    HTH
     
  8. gr82bart

    gr82bart Subscriber

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    User Requirements Specification. Sorry about the lingo, I should have spelled that out. It's a document outlining what features and functions we (as end users of the software) would want from the software.

    Regards, Art.
     
  9. DKT

    DKT Member

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    I had a longer answer--I'll try to make it more relevant & trim it down...there are some programs available for this that are in use in museums & archives. most are licensed, or have been developed in-house based on other legacy type programs. The museum I work for is within a system of other similar institutions. Years ago, more than 100, they had very simple systems that were more or less like a card catalog. As they got into keypunch machines and computers, the databases became more complex. The Federal gov't has a standardized code called MARC. In the system I work in--the archives had one called MARS. The museum had one called CUMAS. These latter two were eventually folded into computerized software that eventually became available more widely. The latter was ReDiscovery for the museum. Past Perfect is another one.

    Basically you need a set of numbers that your items or images are filed under to begin with. Different places use different schemes for this--I had earlier described some of ours, but I realized how confusing my post had become & how irrelevant....so....you need a way to sequentially identify through numbers or letters or a combination--your collection. If it's prints and negatives and other textual items--then you probably need some different sets of numbers to tell them apart.

    You need set locations for storage as well, and a way to be able to keep track of the stuff once it's filed and put in place physically. A database is no good, if you can't find the objects when you go to pull them. If you loan stuff out, or have to move it around a lot, then you probably need to think of some sort of trackig feature as well. Like an inventory more or less.

    Our collection database used keyword searches or numerical searches. Our numbering is a legacy thing, running back many years so it's really complicated to get into the specifics there--but if you start fresh--keep it simple, but remember that you need to be able to grow, and not get locked into a program that limits the length of the file. We used 8 character max until 2000, and had to redo the program for the millenium thing for example. Our negative files still don't use four spaces for the year, we're two only. but on the computer, we have to add a 20, or a 19 to find anything.

    You also need a controlled vocabularly to write captions for your word searches in the metadata. ReDiscovery excludes a huge list of words from searches actually--you have to phrase things just right to use this function, so the data entry is pretty time consuming and probably the least interesting part of the whole deal. It's the most important though, because if something is misspelled, you'll waste a lot of time trying to correct it or even find it.

    one of the agencies in our dept uses a database built on Access. That program works very welll for them, and we have thought about doing a database internally for the photo dept based on that. The biggest challenge for us is that we have a large collection, stored in multiple locations using probably close to a dozen different file systems. You can;t go back & change the numbers wholesale if they've been in use for a long period of time--it gets too confusing. So--whatever system you come up with--think long & hard about it, before it gets set in stone...

    my opinions only/not my employers
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 9, 2007
  10. AllenR

    AllenR Member

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    Rik,

    DKT's evaluation of the situation hits the nail right on the head, especially when it comes to complexity, numbering schemes and controlled vocabulary. Having spent most of my working career developing and managing large database systems, I can vouch for the challenges involved in developing systems that permit a high degree of flexibility and interaction with other systems. The complexity can grow by orders of magnitude as more features are added.

    To address your specific question, I don't know of any commercially available, moderately priced, database systems that are targeted at cataloging and managing a physical collection of prints. I looked at a lot of systems and ended up developing my own. It specifically address the issues revolving around managing my own work, but is far from being any sort of a universal system. Individual needs can vary significantly, and if you want something that will address your specific needs you are probably going to have to create it yourself.
     
  11. Rik

    Rik Member

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    Thanks for the input sofar. I was hoping there would be some low priced commercially available alternative.
    At the moment my collection is not so large, say 50 prints and probably 150 books and then there are negatives of my own work and other related items such as printed matter and camera's and lenses. but it will grow i'm afraid..:smile:
    I want to be able to have a structured overview of this. Maybe the best thing to do is to start something myself in Access and see of that works for me. I understand the decisions that need to be made before starting this, and will think about those.

    If someone has experience with commercially available software, please chime in..

    Rik
     
  12. juan

    juan Subscriber

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    I use the program I use to create web pages, Citydesk . I basically create a website on my hard drive. I put a large scan of each negative on a page, and put the BTZS data from my Palm in a sidebar. I create index pages by year, negative size, and a few by topic, such as "Driftwood."

    The software allows me to sort by keyword, so I can have each image show up in whichever indexes I want. I also put thumbnails on the index pages so I can quickly scan through my images.

    To find the negatives, I simply number them sequentially by year and put them in a file drawer.
    juan
     
  13. Sparky

    Sparky Member

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    I've done some pretty extensive research into this actually - and I find that the software best at cataloguing/tracking digital assets (photos) are probably the best for your hardcopies too! I've tried extensis, canto and other products. One of the most intriguing I've found, I have to say, is also the cheapest - iPhoto (bundled with mac systems). You can search by many variables. It's suprising how flexible it is. AND you can store tons of information about photos (exposure, printing, etc) on different levels (within iphoto - or by system level, searchable outside of iphoto...

    if you're interested - let me know... I'll fill you in on it.
     
  14. DKT

    DKT Member

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    this program I described using Access--they were able to customize a spreadsheet layout that let them enter the accession and/or receipt numbers of items, the physical location, and the descriptions, plus images. but they already had a collection in place, using this information.

    the numbering--you can find a lot of information about the conventions for this if you look at archival management sites, or go to the library. there are style books on vocabulary, books on MARC etc. websites too.

    we started to use Adobe Bridge at work, for our scans of our analog files. Using the accession numbers as the file name--we place a condensed description of the item first, then the number. For multiple views, we use a lower case letter, starting with "a". The ReDiscovery program works that way, so we can generate thumbnails and use the images in the database. In the File Info part of the IPTC metadata--we enter all the source info and usually write captions based on the curatorial info from ReDiscovery. You can also input any usage restrictions as well.

    when we need to find something--what we need is a number. Not a thumbnail, or a print--but a number. A description means nothing. Everything is filed in enclosures in cabinets, sequentially by number. A picture of a gun might be next to one of a coin and so on.

    There are multiple sets of numbers within the same files, meaning different things. Some are the *exact same* number, only with a different prefix, adding to more confusion, unless you know the numbering convention.

    To access this--you have to look on the database--ReDiscovery--find the number and then go to the file. It's the same with trying to find the physical object as well. Same there--without a number, you won't find it, unless you just want to start digging out of curiosity.

    ReDiscovery is flawed as an all purpose database, because it was set up to handle the written files. The images are low res thumbnails, less than 15K, and often are poor quality snapshots. Yet--that is the database used by the general public online as well as internally. The internal version has more fields--covering conservation, management, curatorial etc. The one online is very simple actually. The problem comes in educating people that what they see there as a picture is not what is in the actual Photo Dept. records. It's the gateway to those records, because it gets you the numbers.


    The archive has one collection--newspaper negatives, 70 yrs worth--that can only be accessed by date. If you don't know the date *of publication*--you have to look at reels of microfilm copies of the newspaper to find it. Inside the file for that image, there may be more than one negative, there may be more than one roll even. But you won't know what those alternate shots are, because the only way they're filed is by date of the image used in the paper on that one day. This is an inherited system from the company that donated the images, but it's an example of something that worked for what they needed, but now, is rather time consuming in use.

    The rest of their collection is filed with standardized numbers--some are like PC for photo collection, N for negative and so on. Similar to our accession numbers. Year first, period, number of collection within that year, period, number within that collection. For example N2006.100.1. For the databases, you generally use an underscore for the periods. N2006_100_1.

    It's confusing--but there's a wealth of free information out there if you look. almost all these archives are gov't--they have their collections info online as public documents. If you want to learn more, just check out their websites, or go visit.

    good luck

    my opinions only, even at home.
     
  15. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    I had something very sophisticated written in Access. It began as a shareware program, but was then given free by the author, it was written in the first version of Access, I updated it a couple of times to newer versions but now it needs rebuilding.

    Ian


     
  16. Rik

    Rik Member

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    Hi Ian,
    that Access database you had, is that still available? It's allways easier to have a start than to start from scratch...

    Rik
     
  17. Krockmitaine

    Krockmitaine Member

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    May I suggest Jigsaw? It's a project from the W3C. Jigsaw is a java server for images. It uses Dublin Core for classification. DC is flexible and extensible so you can index your catalog to your heart's content.

    On the plus side, it's free, platform independent and developped by the World Wide Web Consortium.
    Down side, well, it's a W3C project! The documentation can be a daunting task to understand.

    Marc
     
  18. DKT

    DKT Member

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    one way to do this would be to treat the books, cameras, lenses etc as all one type of item. treat them as objects. treat the negatives as a separate item--give them an N number for example. the prints would keep the same number as the the negative file number. This is what we do for our prints, same with the archives for prints generated off negatives or slides etc. For roll film--you can add the frame number to the file name. we use a prefix for the type of record as well, for roll film. For example here's a number for a picture of a conservation shot: C (conservation)--C2007_0509_1(13A). That's today's date, the first roll in that group, and the frame number.

    The objects--you would start your accession numbers with the year they were acquired. the next number is sequential as the collections fall within the year, then the next number is the number of items within that collection. So let's say you get a new camera, and it's the first one you get this year. It's 2007_1_1. The lens that's on it, get's a number as well. 2007_1_2. The hood gets a number. 2007_1_3 and so on. Let's say you get a flash next, only it's acquired later. It becomes 2007_2_1.

    You can group items pertaining to something within the file this way--or let's say you're given a whole closet of camera gear. It would take the same number in the first two fields, except the last set of digits would change. 2007_3_1-150 for example, and you'd break each out 1,2, thru 150 for example.

    A receipt is something that has just been acquired and is in a holding pattern--maybe you'll keep it, maybe you borrowed it, or maybe you decide to give it back. These numbers just start at 1 and go up. If they become part of your formal collection--they get an accession number. In your database, or log book or whatever--you have a field for this change in numbering. This is very important in terms of photos--if you have something that you have copied this way, and the *copy* remains in your files, with the original being returned--it will always be this receipt number.

    so--if this makes sense?--start with your negatives. try to set up the system for them, identify the prints made from them and use that numbering scheme. it's like building a pyramid (or a house of cards...) start small--lay the foundation.

    that's collection management 101 from a museum photographer--not a registrar....
     
  19. Rik

    Rik Member

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    DKT
    thanks for your elaborate posts ! i will have to print them and carefully read them again, but i do start to understand the complexity and need to do 'pre-work' thinking. As stated, once you started with a system, its hard (impossibe?) to change it again.
    thanks again for your valuable input!

    Rik
     
  20. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    Hey Rik, I am always working in files and folders on my Mac machine which presents a pretty straight forward if not filing cabinet type of access. Folders can obviously be labeled anything from year to subject matter to whatever. Keyword searches thru the O.S. present the fastest way of finding a particular picture, book or whatever. All files can be viewed at once or based on any criteria and in the Mac system thumbnails can be attached. Just a kind of down and dirty way to go....Juans suggestion of creating a website on your harddrive is another excellent way to go since you use the metadata to search by. Many word processing programs also automatically create web pages which can be stored in a file and accessed thru your browser.
     
  21. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Rick, the original database is so old it was pre Windows 95. I kept using it, but it became un-updatealbe because Microsoft changing the type of Visual basic used by Access.

    However the tables are all still appropriate, it's the queries and forms that need to be re-written. I don't have Microsoft office on a computer at the moment but I'll have a look for it later and see what there is. I'm intending to re-build it as an Open Office database. It links neg details to prints chemicals papers, alon g with image details, location, thumbnails etc.

    Ian


     
  22. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Hoi Rik,

    There is a conservating group around obviously based in Vlaanderen who ary busy with digitizing, catalogisation, and making public of photographical archieves. Even if digitizing is not your main issue I guess you’ll find some help `dichtbij´:

    www.photherel.net
     
  23. DKT

    DKT Member

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    rik--it's not impossible to change later on, it's just very time consuming, and it's confusing if you deal with anyone besides yourself, because they'll try to access your files using the older numbers. in our system, for example, say you have a print that you didn't make from a negative. it's an object. so, it gets it's own number. if you make a copy of that--then the negative or slide or scan even--it takes the number of the original print. BUT--if you have an original negative, then it gets it's own number, and the prints made from it take that number. Now archives--they sometimes assign a sequential number to everything. even copy negs. so, they might have an individual number for the same copy negative, and then on the file itself it might say "copy of 2007_10_1" so--then you have this other set of numbers...

    roll film is particularly hard to file, because you often have more than one shot. sheet film is easy--each neg or group of brackets, alternates etc--gets a file. rollfilm--well, some institutions cut them into individual frames, which sounds good in theory, but is tedious to deal with. we came up with a system where the rollfilm, since it was shot primarily for assignments--had a set of letters for different fields that were used as a prefix, like I described with the C number above. We had X (exhibits), AT (artifact trip--this would be for documentation in-situ), P (publicity), E (events), etc. There are probably 6 fields total.

    we don't make contacts for 4x5 accessioned negs, since these are photos of objects and share the same number. But we do make contacts for the subject fields, and these are filed in their own location-this is how you access that file--by the contact sheets. In retrospect--since this system worked in the analog world, it doesn't work so good for the digital world. It probably would have been better to just assign numbers to everything sequentially, like the archives does. I didn't set the system up though, and it's been a couple of decades in use, and would be very hard to redo.

    There are also separate files for color transparencies, color negatives and slides. We use the prefix CT, CN for the 4x5 and 120 film. The slides have a totally different filing system, that I won't get into or else I'll bore you to death...All these formats are stored apart from each other..

    Ultimately the way you access these files once you have the number--is to go to the 4x5 b/w negative files. If there's a b/w neg, there will be either a 35mm slide or a 4x5 chrome, given the year the negative was shot. There may be both, even. If you have the CT number, then you know there's a 4x5. The b/w is the master file though. so the negatives are the masters more or less. unless....it's digital to begin with....

    at home--I file my negs with a simple 4 digit code. 0701, would be the first roll of 2007. 0701(10) would be frame 10 from that roll. I use contacts to find the images. For my digital stuff--I have a Mac as well--I use PhotoMechanic to do the captions and file names etc. Make a contact sheet--print it out and put it in a binder. My database is visual--the notebook. My file names are just the date I download the images. 070510 for example. I can put in keywords and the like in the metadata--uses XMP I think, like the Adobe stuff does as well. PhotoMechanic calls it a "stationary pad"--you can really automate it. It's not a database--it's used by the Associated Press, meant to download, caption & edit on the fly. works great though.

    It's all a pain to deal with though. it's just never ending. When it came to my own photos, I had to keep it simple. I want to spend my time making photos, not filing them, if that makes any sense?

    my opinions only/not my employers.
     
  24. Photographica

    Photographica Member

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    There's a couple of programs that you can buy on eBay for about $10. I bought one a couple of years ago and found it to be OK. I think one is called "TreasureSoft ." and the other something like "Collect It." At any rate you can search for "collection software" and you'll get several hundred hits. These programs are not all that bad. They each have many versions, all targeting different collectors -- Cameras, Coins, Dolls, etc. They allow you to enter details about each item in your collection and optionally add an image.

    When I bought TreasureSoft I was looking for ideas for my own Access database. I ended up using my own because it met all of my requirements. Though I could have used the other with some compromises.