If you are looking for ways to make your digital workflow work better for you, you should definitely check out the dpBestflow project. dpBestflow is short for Digital Photography Best Practices and Workflow. The dpBestflow website, books and seminars offer practical solutions for preserving your digital images along with their color, intent, quality and metadata while making your workflow easier and more streamlined.
The dpBestflow team has designed their materials for those who are newer to photography as well as the technologically sophisticated. The result is a set of clear workflow guidelines designed to meet the needs and solve the problems that photographers face every day in capture, process, production and protection.
The Workflow guides are designed to match a wide variety of working styles from high volume, quick delivery shoots to those with the highest production values.
The switch from film to digital capture in photography was very challenging for most of us. Not only did we have to let go of our emotional attachment to film and film cameras, but also we entered a world with few accepted standards and had to get involved with a concept called “workflow”.
Before digital, a photographer’s workflow occurred in the camera and at the film lab. Throughout the 1990’s, photographers in increasing numbers scanned film to create digital files, and started to manipulate their images in Adobe Photoshop and other imaging applications. However, that was just the beginning of what has come digital photography workflow.
With the introduction of high-resolution digital cameras at the end of the 1990’s, trips to the lab ended and most photographers found that they were responsible for the whole process, from image capture to file delivery.
The good part was that those who took the time to master digital photography and post- production, had more control then ever before– even to the point of managing files for print production. The not so good part was that we had entered a world without accepted standards. The hardware and software of that time struggled to keep up with the advances in camera sensor technology.
Fast forward to 2010, a brief blip in time perhaps, but a completely different world technologically speaking. While we still struggle with standards, (sRGB is still a much safer delivery colorspace option than Adobe RGB for instance), people are much more aware of metadata, the need to calibrate monitors and printers, and what resolution is appropriate for different media.
At the very beginning of the digital revolution The American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) established a Digital Standards Research Committee. This committee anticipated that ASMP members would have many burning questions about how to successfully make the switch from film to digital, both from a technical standpoint, and from a business standpoint.
Understanding what was required in the way of hardware, software, and training is key to understanding how to charge for maintaining your digital imaging infrastructure. Many clients have little or no understanding that files do not necessarily come out of a digital camera perfectly prepared for their needs.
The Digital Standards Research Committee generated whitepapers, took the lead creating the digital standards website, UPDIG, and worked behind the scenes with Adobe, Microsoft, Apple, and others to improve software behavior.
For instance, Adobe Photoshop “Save for Web” used to strip metadata from digital files by default until the committee pointed out to Adobe that this was not in the best interest of photographers and their clients.
To our benefit, the work that the committee did over the years resulted in an award from the U.S. Library of Congress National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIP). The ASMP was one of eight private sector organizations to receive an award.
This award resulted in the dpBestflow project. There are three components to the project; two books, the Digital Photography Best Practices and Workflow Handbook (Focal Press, 2009) and The DAM Book (O’Reilly 2009), The dpBestflow website, and a traveling seminar series.
The dpBestflow website is a rich resource for understanding digital photography technology best practices, and shows you how to apply that knowledge to build custom workflows–no matter what kind of photography you do. There are many embedded movie tutorials that go hand-in-hand with bulleted lists of workflow steps to help make workflow procedures clear.
In addition case studies, in movie form, have been and are being produced that show how experts in the field, such as Katrin Eismann, Frans Lanting, Eddie Tapp, Matt Kowslowski and others, organize their work around dpBestlfow principles.
A key dpBestflow project goal is to make photographers aware of how vulnerable photography is to loss. The project includes methods for digitizing large film collections, and for maintaining those digital files for the long term. The dpBestflow project used New Orleans and Katrina as a case study (the film is in production, and will be coming soon) for the importance of the photographic record to the culture, what the effect is when it is lost, and strategies for preventing that loss in the future–even in geographically challenged places like New Orleans.
As Project Director, I am proud of the resource the dpBestflow team along with the ASMP and the Library of Congress have been able to produce over the past three years. I hope that many of you will visit the website, pick up the books, and have a chance to attend a dpBestflow seminar in your area.