Many people may remember the Monica Lewinsky story. Few people know about what it took to find that ONE image of her hugging President Clinton, photographed by Dirck Halstead two years before the story came out. Every other photographer at that event had deleted most of their digital photographs (or thrown away the rest of their film) and simply kept the images used that day. No big deal, right? They were just recording history every day, but not realizing it. The breaking news had left them empty handed when they really needed those images. This one photograph (shot on film and later scanned digitally for publication) was used months later for the cover of a major news magazine about the story of that time. That photograph was later used as a reference point by all the television networks who found their archived video footage. Now imagine if this was today’s photographers (now almost completely shooting digital), how quickly that image could have been found if archived in a DAM with metadata which referenced the location, event and names of the subjects photographed (i.e. President Clinton). It would not have taken days to cull through 5000 digital photographs of President Clinton, but more likely minutes or hours. Doesn’t that sound more deadline-friendly?
To answer the question, why should I limit the deleting:
- Delete only what is totally unusable. Archive the rest.
- Use metadata so people can find and sort through all assets. And not just find them visually.
- Keep it searchable and available. Don’t be the only person who can find your assets. You are not going to live forever and you probably won’t work there for the rest of your life.
- Digital storage media is cheap. Buy more than you need and then back up all of it regularly.
- Limit who has the right to delete from your archive or DAM.
For more on the photography aspects of this topic, take a look at Vincent Laforet’s blog.