Help me find a way to database a high res photo library
January 25, 2011 6:49 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for good Mac-based database software for organizing several hundred gigs of photos for a small art production / fabrication team.

We have Adobe CS5, and Filemaker Pro. I have looked into Lightroom as a possible solution, but it is not exactly what we need. Filemaker databases, as far as I know, are not really the best for storing RAW photo files, or very large ones. We need a user friendly solution five people can use, that we can serve on a local network. We have lots of very high resolution photographs of artworks that we are constantly having to search individual machines for, spanning over ten years. It would be ideal to get them all organized on one machine that we can all access over the network, and easily seek by date, artist name, materials used, etc. I would love to use Filemaker if it is possible to keep the high res photos outside of the database and still catalog and search them. Any ideas?
posted by catrae to Technology (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Not a pro on this but if I was you I would call Filemaker and tell them what you want to do. They might be able to give you a solution or point you towards a developer who could help you design a solution that might work with FM.

If you're lucky they might even show you examples of how to do it. I found them very receptive to helping out via their tech support. You might want to start off the conversation by saying you are considering using FM and wondered if they thought FM could do it. Maybe go through sales.

My guess is that you could build a database that would relate to another storage unit, possible on a related RAID, that could do this as the data would not be stored in FM directly.

I had pretty good luck with this guy... Darrin Quick, He works out of Atlanta directly for FM. He was able to listen to what I wanted to do and give me some ideas and resources.

Best of luck
posted by bkeene12 at 8:26 PM on January 25, 2011

I think you're looking for a "Digital Asset Management" solution, not a "database. They're basically the same thing under the hood, but searching for one will get you very different results than searching for the other. DAM systems are specifically tailored to this kind of problem, and will generally be a lot easier to deal with than a generic database, unless the database is very well designed (i.e. I think you'd have to put a LOT of time into developing a Filemaker DB to try to make it as good as what a specialized DAM tool can do).

I've used iView MediaPro for my personal collection of several hundred gigs of photos, and it works well. It was bought by Microsoft and turned into Expression Media, which I haven't tried, so I can't vouch for the new version. Another option to look at is Canto Cumulus.
posted by sharding at 8:27 PM on January 25, 2011

You may already know this, but you can tell filemaker to only store a reference to the file, as opposed to storing the file itself. It seems like that would be a workable option to me.
posted by crapples at 8:28 PM on January 25, 2011

Something we did with appx 60,000 photos was to store them on a NAS (network attached storage) and have one user build an Adobe Bridge database on the NAS itself for all the images. Then we pointed all the other users' Adobe Bridge installations to use the database on the NAS instead of the local database it usually uses. This enables them all to see the same tagging and rating, as well as any changes they make to be propagated back to the database on the NAS.
posted by msbutah at 9:23 PM on January 25, 2011

At first I was thinking you might want to give Adobe VersionCue a shot, only to discover that, alas! it is no more as of CS5. The new offering seems to be Adobe Drive 2.0 (see here).
There's a catch, however: Adobe Drive is basically a unified Digital Asset Management front end; your back end can vary. So, Version Cue Server works as a back end, as does Subversion (though I'm curious as to how SVN would play with large RAW files) along with CQ5 (and Adobe bought Day Software so that may be the planned "official" Enterprise offering). Note, however, that Adobe seems kinda tight-lipped about supported DAM vendors, but if there's a package you like, you can see if there's a connector.
posted by mjbraun at 6:00 AM on January 26, 2011

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