My photo workflow

I have a crazy workflow. It’s a little pricey, but I think it’s cheaper than getting one of those giant RAID arrays. It probably relies too much on manual backup. It works for me, though, I guess.

I have all my photos, from film scan days, to yesterday, in one **Adobe Lightroom** catalog. That’s 167,000 photos. All files are sorted on the drives by date. (Note: If I was a pro, I would probably keep each shoot in a separate catalog. But since I’m shooting for me, it makes sense to me to keep it all together)

Images from 2015-2017 are on my local hard drive in folders Pictures/2015, Pictures/2016, etc. This is automatically backed up via Time Machine.

Images from before 2015 live on a 4GB external “archive” hard drive. Again, sorted by date. The archive drive is a mirrored RAID from OWC. It has two drives in it, each has a green light indicator. If one of the drives fails, the light should change color and I can replace it without losing data. This drive is backed up to another 4GB external drive monthly, manually. The archive drive normally is powered “off”, but I can easily turn it on when I need to find something.

These are heavily keyworded with location and subject. All recent images are geo-encoded. Pick flags are used to indicate my “favorites”.

All further sorting and slicing is done through Collections and Smart Collections. For example, I have a smart collection of “picks from Germany 2012”.

I use a color-coding system to indicate whether something has been uploaded to Wikimedia, Flickr, FindaGrave, etc. It works most of the time, but isn’t great for when an image is uploaded to multiple sites.

I have another, separate backup system in which I backup the current year’s shoot to a small portable drive; this drive lives offsite. This contains all the unedited shots from my shoots; thereafter, on my main hard drive, I delete anything that’s not satisfactory to me, and I have a backup should I need it. Since I’ve been doing this for a few years (since 2009?), I have a bunch of little drives each with one year’s complete photo set on it.

In theory, I have three copies of every photo taken after 2009 or so, one set of which lives offsite.

Oh, I also have a Crashplan account which supposedly backs up all my family’s computers to the cloud daily, although I’ve never tested it or used it for anything.

Oh, also I backup my Lightroom catalog on quit weekly; and I backup the catalog to the archive drive monthly or so.

A few months ago, my archive drive failed. It wasn’t a RAID drive at the time. I had fallen behind on my backups a few years, and it was a bit of a shitshow. Fortunately the third, offsite backup set saved my bacon. That’s when I moved to the mirrored RAID drive and am now more vigilant about backing up this drive.