Make no mistake. Photography has changed. Our philosophy and attitudes toward it have not. Photography has always been something tangible. It was a physical process. It required you to use all of your senses during the photographic processes. You were left with a sleeve of negatives and a stack of photos to hang on to. Use the images now or revisit in the future. Except for fire or flood, you would always have the negative to go back to. You could keep them all in a shoebox or a file cabinet, all subjects marked with Sharpie. They could be highly organized in files or not so much. No matter what, you knew where they were when you needed them.
Fast forward. Now images exist only in a non tangible format. A format that requires thousands of dollars of equipment to capture, process, display and archive. Keeping digital assets isn’t like it was in the old days. To maintain value in the investment of photography digital images cannot be kept in a ‘shoe box’. The digital images need to be handled and processed in a highly organized system. The system includes the rigorous use of metadata, multiple hard-drives and arrays, off site DVD back ups, cataloging software, and a degree in network technology.
For the professionals, I am preaching to the choir. I am concerned about the new to digital and student photographers. Get into good habits archiving your images now. You will need to be ever vigilant about archiving if you want to maintain a profitable archive. Image loss is disastrous and an enormous drain on time already committed to projects as well as time in trying to fix what has broken or find what has been lost.