Consider Keeping Your Library With You

by James Duncan Davidson

In the last couple of weeks, I've changed something very important about my photo library strategy. Previously, when hitting the road, I've been leaving behind my primary library and just focusing on the images I take while on the road. I had to change that approach recently, however, because I've been home maybe 3 weeks since January 1st. The thought of all of my images being so far away from me wasn't appealing at all. I knew that I would need some of those images at some point while on the road.

To address this, the last time I was home, I duplicated out my entire image archive onto a 750GB Seagate external hard drive. This drive isn't nearly as small as my LaCie Rugged drives that I'm really fond of and it requires external power, which is a drag. But, it means that my entire archive is close at hand should the need arise.


2007-04-02 17:50:23
It's refreshing to see that other photographers suffer the same kind of problems that I do. I've been seriously looking into PhotoShelter, but I have not yet made peace with the fact that if I upload all my images there, I would need to send pre-processed final version and not the RAW images, since PhotoShlter does not manage the RAW + the changes like Aperture does... I hope someone is thinking about this. A hosted Aperture solution would be great! :)
Peter Norby
2007-04-02 21:34:45
What about toting around just the library with you (with some amount of thumbnail/metadata), then once you've spotted the image(s) you want, suck them down from your backup-in-the-sky (Photo shelter, your ISP, whatever)?


2007-04-03 01:08:08
An Aperture hosted solution would be wonderful! Perhaps if it's a requested enough feature...we may see it offered. I'll put my vote in to Apple. Also, I recall an Inside Aperture podcast, I think it was with Vincent Laforet or Bill Frakes, who talked about accessing their main library at the studio via internet, and sending a client files while far from home...very cool. Need to play that one again.
James Duncan Davidson
2007-04-03 09:25:23
Martin: Yes indeed. Tools like Aperture and Lightroom that solve one level of the problem make it obvious that there are other levels of the problem to deal with.

Peter: That's actually another way to slice it. And, if I ever find a place to stash 400GB of data in the sky at a price that works, it's exactly what I'll do next. As it is, I'm pretty much doing that now, just the backup in the sky is in my bag. :)

Trace: That might be the other way I slice it--just leave access to my home system up. I've done that before for other reasons. Hrm....

Joe Samuels
2007-04-03 12:20:14
What you have to carry depends on what you want to do with your Library.

When I'm on the road with just my laptop, I want to be able to see and show any image on screen, but nothing more. So I've exported my entire Library in " JPEG medium-size email" files. From 10-12MG per image in the full Library, I'm down to 400-600KB per image, and the whole Library only takes a few GB on the laptop.

For me, this is enough and very, very handy.

Deborah Olivo
2007-04-03 13:16:49
Do you have your images referenced or managed in the library?
It whould be interesting to know how big the library can get before it gets slow. (I'm now at 115 GB)
2007-04-03 15:51:33
I've considered the Offline/Managed files issue, and I have to say that I'd rather have my library with me, for the exact reasons that you've laid out here. It's one thing to have an offsite backup, quite another to have an offsite file. Not having it with you sort of defeats a lot of the purpose of having a "Mobile" computing platform (laptop) as a computing solution, in my estimation.

I realize that with burgeoning libraries, space becomes an issue/commodity. But still, the speed and flexibility of actually having the library on-site is phenomenal, as illustrated here. And hell, if nothing else, leave the big HD at the hotel! Leave it in the bag!

Damn. And I'm just a hobbyist. I can't stand the thought of not having my library with me; I'm not sure how you professional-types can put up with it!

Mike Lao
2007-04-04 04:25:43
Totally agree with you on bringing the library when travelling. My only question is - how sturdy/reliable is the 750GB seagate external drive compared to your lacie rugged drive. Laptop hard drives are built for mobile use so I think they'll last long. I'm interested to know how you travel with the bigger (i assume, 3.5") HD. Do you take care of it more than your LaCie?

I recently got myself a 300GB external drive just to meet that need. But I'm still not very comfortable bringing it whenever I travel.

jake love
2007-04-04 07:44:56
That is very interesting and I will try it.

On your statement: "I still want to find an online archive solution that seamlessly maps between my personal library and a website--synching every keyword change and image update along the way"

-- given that this is the main thing all photographers need, Aperture or whatever app finally manages to become the industry standard will certainly provide exactly this service.

When I purchased Aperture, I assumed this function was part of the package! In fact, I naively assumed would be part of the Canon software that comes with EOS gear, and when I realized it was not a feature, I gave a Canon rep what-for at Photo Expo, 05. An app without seamless integration of HD, DVD web site AND and web apps -- and an open door for unknown future apps -- is like a car without wheels!

2007-04-04 14:10:19
I can't imagine online storage being very practical, it's slow.
I am howeveer looking at home or SOHO sized RAID Network attached storge, something you can access across your LAN or ftp into from out in the field. As there are more files and they get bigger, this is gonna bigger issue.
2007-04-04 17:28:25
If internet speeds in the US were at least a high fraction of how fast they are in most other first and even second world countries, then backup would be quite simple: online-based.

But Verizon and the other couple of providers have only disincentives to build networks that could be useful in that way, and the only superhighways the US government is willing to let the taxpayer build are those used by gas guzzlers.

Ah well, let me at them Chinese-made storage devices!