How do you guys manage your collections of stock photos and media?

Hi guys,

I’ve built up a library of 1000s of stock photos and vector files over the years. How do you guys manage your collections? Is there some kind of cloud storage service you use? How do you organise each image/vector file so that it can easily be found, i.e. can you use some kind of tagging service? I have several folders on an external hard drive holding 1000s of images and obviously it is not very efficient.


I had a similar problem. I used to try to organise photos into folders, but then had problems with pictures which came into more than one category.

I started using Shotwell Photo Manager about a year ago, and I really like it. Unfortunately, I think it’s only available for Linux, so that may not be much help to you. Which OS do you use?

Hi aaron,
Just read your question myself. I had to upload all my media files including stock photos my Amazon s3 bucket. It is one of the best cloud storage solution in the world. But my data contains several sensitive information including my business and client data. So I use an off-site data protection service from Storagepipe. Which is one of the popular cloud backup service in Canada.

You might want to give Elyse a try. At only $10 for the full version, it sure does beat paying $100’s for something like Extensis Portfolio, one of the heavyweights in Digital Asset Management (DAM) software.

To get a real idea of what Elyse can do, a browse through their online help file would be recommended.

A free trial supporting up to 30 tags is available, and it runs on both Windows and Mac OSX.

I use Picasa. Especially for its good facial recognition.
Have it scan all the relevant folders, and then it will begin finding faces which you can then tag with people. The more you tag particular faces, the easier it finds those same faces on other folders.
In maybe an hour, with thousands of photos, I’ve got every photo tagged with all family members.
But you’re talking about stock photos though.

I think for you, just use a good tag manager.
Let’s face it, with using folders alone, this is basically one “tag”, (i.e. “outdoor shots”) or whatever. But as soon as you want to tag with multiple features like “outdoor, mountain, sunset, sky, forest, lake, evergreen” then folders become useless.

There are many tools for tagging photos, Picasa included. But you can also tag photos in Windows directly, read this:

As long as the photos are not recreated, such as using tools that resize them or convert them to smaller sizes for attaching in emails or whatever, then the tags you set will be preserved. So if you create some tags on a JPG and email to someone else, they will also have those tags set. If you archive the photos on a cloud service, the tags are preserved.

Then later, you can search by tags, sort by them, group them by tags, etc.

Another option is using a so-called document management application. Some of these are pretty robust. They utilize their own internal database to store much more data about your files. For example they can store multiple revisions of files, connecting one photo, for example, to each of its various sizes or renders. For example, in photography, you would have an original RAW file, and then one or more Photoshop masters, and then various renders and sizes. All of these can be grouped as a single collection.
Some of these tools would run on your workstation, some would need a server, some can run as a cloud service. For example look at a program called Daminion as an example. Most of these professional file management apps won’t be free though.

So then, I would start with a robust file tagging app, perhaps Picasa, ACDSee, and some people even use Lightroom as an organizing tool. Or look around for a complete document management solution.

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