Once more than a few hundred images have been accumulated, it is unlikely that a photographer will be able to access particular files efficiently without a proper record-keeping system. A properly organized filing and archives system must be put in place, and a structured cataloguing system should be implemented.
Cataloguing software has the potential to provide an immediate solution to the problem of record keeping in the age of digital photography. However, a photographer must devote time and effort to naming files and annotating records in an appropriate manner. Few images are worth having once all records of subject, location, date and time are lost. The details that should be recorded inevitably depend upon the type of work undertaken.
Cataloguing software, such as FotoStation, provides a convenient and efficient means of accessing particular images and recalling relevant details. Thumbnail images make comparison and selection easy, and printed index sheets facilitate record keeping. Images can be organized into named albums so that particular subjects and themes may be readily identified.
Good cataloguing software allows keywords to be allocated to each image in addition to basic information such as subject, location, date and exposure. Proper use of this facility makes searching for particular types of images much easier. For instance, a search for "flowers" should produce a screen of thumbnails consisting only of images to which that particular keyword has been allocated.
File naming conventions are also important. With large numbers of files to handle, it is vital to ensure that a digital camera allocates an unique number to each file. Some cameras restart the numbering system when a new memory card is inserted. Where possible, turn this option off because it may result in duplicated file names. It is also important to use leading zeros when numbering files, otherwise sorting software will place image 1000.jpg ahead of image 99.jpg! With leading zeros, 0099.jpg will precede 1000.jpg as one would expect.