Digital asset management (DAM) solutions are vital for anyone who works in photography. But with a large number of options out there, narrowing down the field is not easy.
That’s why we’ve put together this overview of what benefits you need to look out for, allowing you to find the right package for your needs and budget. So let’s get into it and explore the world of DAM for photographers.
File storage & organization
The main principles of digital asset management for photography are not only the storage of image files, but also the structured organization of the data in a way that makes it easy to find and access.
The best DAM packages today allow for a range of assets to be stored alongside one another, embracing a bevy of file types from still snaps to high-res videos, and even CAD files.
Ideally you’ll choose a platform which is hosted in the cloud, rather than one which is reliant on local storage. This gives you the flexibility and scalability that are innate to cloud-powered services, as well as the cost-effectiveness these bring to the table.
Bear in mind that some DAM solutions, such as Adobe Bridge, are tied into a wider ecosystem of creative software. This is good and bad, with the upside being the unity and cohesion that comes with relying on a single vendor for everything, while the drawback being that you’ll be putting all your eggs in one basket, and might not be able to integrate cleanly with third party tools.
Branding & accessibility
A DAM setup isn’t just for internal use, and will frequently have to serve client-facing duties as you share photos and project assets externally.
If you want to do this in a way that emphasizes your business ethos and identity, then services like Brandfolder and Filecamp are worth considering. They allow you to customize the look of the platform so that it adheres to your corporate colors, and uses your logo.
Accessibility also comes into play here. You not only need to be able to make files available to those outside the organization, but also to alter access rights for individuals so that you don’t expose your entire file system to third parties.
Processing & editing
Batch processing, which allows you to apply changes to large numbers of files in a group rather than individually, is a selling point for some DAM products.
Some services, including on-premises platforms like iMatch, combine bath processing with image editing tools.
Even something as simple as supporting batch uploading for cloud-based solutions should be on your checklist when comparing packages.
In terms of native editing support, this is really a matter of preference. You might be happy with your standalone editing tools that you already use, and not require any more functionality of this kind within your DAM.
If so, it’s worth looking out for platforms that focus on storage and file management, like the aforementioned Brandfolder, as well as alternatives like Photo Mechanic.
Whether you are a solo photographer or a member of a creative team in an agency or business, dealing with digital images is easier if you’ve got a DAM solution on your side.
Don’t rush into this decision, but look at what tools you are already using and see how well these will integrate with prospective packages before you pull the trigger.
Also remember that some services are free to use, but with limited functionality, while others are priced at a premium, but offer additional bells and whistles. If in doubt, ask for recommendations from other professionals.