Digital Asset Management is becoming a big deal for many photographers, professionals and occasional shooters alike. I hadn’t really thought much about it before, but my recent acquisition and subsequent digitizing of historical family photographs brought home to me the need for a tool that would allow me to treat the collection as a library – complete with cataloging, search and organization functionality. A comprehensive survey of the DAM software market can be found here.
My basic requirements were:
- Flexible labeling of photos – multiple labels, and ability to specify a label hierarchy
- XML export of the catalog – including labels and their hierarchy
- Support of open standards (IPTC, XMP) to avoid vendor lock-in
- Ability to write these tags to the image files (or sidecar files), for the same reason
I quickly settled on a trial of the v4 beta of idImager (Pro version) – this is a public beta program. One of its key features for me was full XMP support (I can verify that all tags are written out to my JPEGs), but on top of this, the beta version introduces two killer features that take my ability to catalog and make sense of my family photo library to a whole new level.
The first is label relationships – instead of imposing a single inheritance hierarchy on my labels, I can arbitrarily link any two labels together, and specify their relationship to each other. For example, Peter and James are linked by the father-son relationship. This means I can build complex family trees from the various person name labels in my catalog, very easily (find me all photos which contain Peter and his sons) – resulting in very expressive and powerful image searches.
The second is area tagging (which you see in Flickr‘s annotations feature), the ability to mark an area of a photo, and associate a label with it. Absolutely indispensable for large group photos to figure out who’s who.
The program has a fairly intuitive interface – I rarely had to refer to the user manual, which is saying a bit, because this is an application with a feature set geared towards pro users. The user community is active, and I have to mention that support from the developer, Hert, is second to none. I’ve logged two bugs and a feature request so far over the week, and responses have been forthcoming each time within 24 hours – pretty amazing when you consider that he’s the sole developer of the product.