Event Wrap Up: TIFFs, JPEGs, and GIFs, Oh my! Working with Digital Photographs

Feeling overwhelmed with organizing digital images? You’re certainly not alone! LAPNet recently hosted a symposium (aptly) titled TIFFs, JPEGs, and GIFs, Oh my! Working with Digital Photographs that focused on just that topic. The event, held on February 13, 2017 at the Huntington Library in San Marino, featured a panel of digital librarians and photo archivists with a variety of backgrounds and home institutions who shared their expertise and best practices for working with the unique format.

Dony West (Director, Digital Image Archiving, Paramount Pictures) first set the stage by sharing his expertise on intake and processing of incoming photo collections. He described differences between files such as camera files and computer generated files, as well as why setting up a “work in progress” (or WIP) directory is important at the beginning stages of a workflow. Dony’s slides may be found here.

Mary Wahl (Digital Services Librarian, CSU Northridge) next described strengths and weaknesses of various storage media ranging from floppy disks to hard drives, and emphasized a storage strategy commonly referred to as the “3-2-1 rule”. She also shared tips, tricks and examples of filenaming schemes for digital images, and discussed how to formulate a basic filenaming policy. Mary’s slides may be found here.

Elizabeth Cathcart (Digital Archive Cataloging Librarian, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Margaret Herrick Library) next shared her expertise on cataloging and metadata for digital images. She pointed out a number of data points that are useful to capture, such as titles, creators, and rights info. The importance of following thesauri and authorized headings and names was also emphasized. Elizabeth’s slides may be found here.

Christina Rice (Senior Librarian, Photo Collection at the Los Angeles Public Library), next shared her expertise in access and reminded attendees to reflect on who their audience is and what the long-term goals are in regards to providing access to digital images. She also shared a number of outreach methods such as social media, exhibits, printed materials, and becoming involved in events such as the annual LA Archives Bazaar. Christina’s slides may be found here.

A panel discussion and Q&A moderated by LAPNet Steering Committee Member Jeff Thompson (former Archivist, Twentieth Century Fox Photo Archive/currently Archivist, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) followed the presentations and included lively dialogue on a variety of topics. For instance, one of the key take-aways from presenters was the importance of creating documentation for how one is working with their digital collections. Additionally, it was emphasized that “one size fits all” solutions rarely exist, but staying consistent helps to keep collections easier to manage.

One thing’s for sure – working with digital images will never be quite so trouble-free as simply storing and ignoring! However, it is encouraging to know that many of us are working through the same challenges. LAPNet thanks the panelists who were willing to share their expertise and best practices on working with digital photographs. And our thanks to all who made it to the symposium!

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