The File Browser May Be the Only DAM You Need

Shooting quality digital photos is just the start of your digital photography workflow process. Accessing, naming, sorting, culling, and copyrighting your digital images, as well as generating metadata, distributing, storing, and retrieving images and information are all important aspects of the digital photography workflow. All of these tasks, collectively known as digital asset management (DAM), can be enormously timeconsuming and if they’re not well organized, can quickly become a logistical nightmare that prevents you from effectively storing, identifying, finding, and using your images. Dedicated applications such as Extensis’s Portfolio have been developed to handle these demands, but before you take the plunge into a dedicated DAM software program, let’s first explore the capabilities built into Photoshop’s Browser. You might be surprised to find that, depending upon your situation, the Browser may be all you need.

The following is a step-by-step example of how I use the Photoshop Browser to handle my DAM processes after a typical photo shoot. I’ve fine-tuned my steps with keyboard shortcuts whenever possible to speed up the process. Maybe you can retrieve some ideas from my system and adapt and improve on them for your own digital photo workflow.

Image access

First, let’s pop that camera storage card into a dedicated flash card reader. Note: I don’t download images directly from the camera because it’s slow and saps camera battery life!


Copy all of the images into an initial image storage folder. I have a folder labeled: Images_Start, and inside this folder, I create a new folder with the project name or location. As I’m often processing images from multiple shoots or projects, using these labeled folders helps organize them until I’ve sorted, named, and culled through all of the images, at which point I move them to specific project or more permanent storage locations.


Launch Photoshop’s Browser (Command-Shift-O [PC: Control-Shift-O]) and locate your folder on the Browser’s Folders tab. Take a quick look at the images to make sure that they’re all visible (I usually open one to make sure the images are accessible). Next, delete all of the images from your flash card while it’s still installed in the reader. Removing the images from the flash card once again saves time and camera battery life.

Initial sort and cull

Before sorting, we’ll preset the Browser Preferences (Edit>Preferences) and click on the High Quality Previews checkbox. Next, set up the Browser as follows: Collapse the Folder and Metadata panes by double-clicking on the respective tab; enlarge the Preview; then set the Browser View menu to Medium Thumbnail (View>Medium Thumbnail).


Quickly sort through the Medium thumbnail views and select in sequence (Command-click [PC: Control-click]) to select images which are obvious culls—blank, really blurry, out of focus, etc. Then remove them by pressing the Delete (PC: Backspace) key.


Now click on the first image’s medium thumbnail to bring its image up in the enlarged Preview pane. Then, using the keyboard Arrow keys, view each image in the Preview (remember, we activated the High Quality preview in the Browser preferences). As we go, eliminate any additional images that you don’t want—other out-of-focus images, lower quality duplicates (for example, some of my bracketed images), poor expression images (such as a subject with closed eyes), etc.

I may open up a couple of images to see if I really want to toss them, but I try to maintain some discipline at this point to get through the initial sort-and-cull process.

Rotate and name images

Next, we’ll rotate and initially name the images by using the Browser’s batch function.


Select the images you want to rotate in the Browser (Commandclick [PC: Controlclick]), then choose Automate>Batch.

Apply a pre-created rotation action to the selected images and save the images in place. Note: I typically don’t use the Browser’s Direct Rotation tool, as I fi nd it slow and unreliable.


Select all of the remaining images in the Browser (Command-A [PC: Control-A]). Then choose Automate> Batch Rename.

In the Batch Rename dialog, choose the naming characteristics you want (in our example, Redrocks + 1 Digit Serial Number + extension) and click OK. Note: I’ll refi ne the names of many of these images later as I use them, but this at least creates an initial useful name.

Resize images (but no resampling)

Most digital cameras deliver images at 72 ppi with large dimensions so I resize all the pixels in my digital photos from the default 1/72″ (72 ppi) to 1/300″ (300 ppi) using a pre-created Photoshop resizing action. This resizes the images to reasonable dimensions. Here’s how:


Select all of the remaining images in the Browser (Command-A [PC: Control-A]) then choose Batch from the Browser Automate menu.


Apply a precreated (72 to 300 ppi) Image Size action to the selected images.

Note: It’s important that no resampling occur at this stage, so uncheck the Resample Image checkbox in the Image dialog when you create your Photoshop Resize action.

As shown, these basic DAM-related steps can be done quickly and easily. In the next issue, I’ll show you how I use the Browser to perform additional DAM-related functions, such as sorting, changing format, organizing, gathering, recording, storing, and sending images.

Taz Tally, Ph.D., a nationally known electronic publishing consultant, provides training on a wide range of electronic publishing topics, including scanning, prepress, and digital fi le preparation. Check out his books, Avoiding the Scanning Blues and Acrobat 6 and PDF Solutions, or visit his website at