Magazine Article


Why Archive Your Digital Files?


Why Archive Your Digital Files?

It's the Profitable, Speedy, Efficient Way
to Deliver Images at the Click of a Mouse


Originally shot by Jim Jordan for Marie Claire Europe, the same image of model Carre Otis was later chosen for the cover of Germany's Petra magazine and for a Mamiya 645AF ad that ran in the U.S.

For years, I've faced a formidable challenge: how to deliver over 40,000 images to clients and stock agencies at the click of a mouse. After extensive investigation into the markets, and trial-and-error attempts with various combinations of digital equipment, we've come up with a workflow that streamlines our in-house production, increases our studio revenue and profitability, and increases the safety of our images.
In sharp contrast to our previous turnaround process, which used to take approximately four days, our new digital workflow lets us retrieve and deliver images at lightning speed. It also speeds up the selection process when I want to customize a portfolio. I can select specific images that reflect a potential client's needs in about an hour. So now, instead of our images collecting dust, they collect revenue.

Our new workflow begins with editing the film and choosing select images to be scanned. Our scanner operator uses a Macintosh G4 and an Imacon Flextight III scanner for 35mm, medium-, and large-format images. The Flextight III scanner has the optimum quality, flexibility, and user-friendliness of any on the market. The detail in the scans, especially in the shadows, is incredible.
The Flextight III is a drum scan, yet it's compact in size, smaller than most desktop printers. Similar drum scans would cost $25-$50 each if outsourced. With our extensive library of images, the savings to scan these images in-house is immense. This scanner is definitely ahead of its time.
We store my works-in-progress in-studio on two Smartdisk VST 80GB FireWire drives, which allow us to organize the scans and easily work with hundreds of high-res scans at the same time. These external hard drives are extremely compact and are known for their accuracy and portability. After the images have been scanned, we use Adobe Photoshop 6.0 to create customized contact sheets, with individual ID numbers for each image.
Assigning an ID number to each image lets us retrieve images quickly and efficiently. We print contact sheets and promotional pieces using an Epson Photo Stylus 1280 printer. Then we transfer archived scans to our in-studio DVD library. Contact sheets are arranged by client or model and are stored in labeled notebooks.
When we're all finished, we move the originals to an offsite temperature-controlled, fire-proof vault for safety. By digitizing the images, we're able to retain control of the original work and avoid the loss in print quality that results when you send out duplicates. Each month, I select certain images from these contact sheets and upload them to my website.
I take the same streamlined approach to organizing my gear. Working on location, I bring three Mamiya 645AF bodies and multiple Mamiya AF lenses. I organize my equipment in Tamrac camera bags and accessories. These Tamrac products allow me to roll through airports and check-in, and clearly lay out my equipment for quick retrieval in-studio and on-location.

Jim Jordan is an award-winning advertising, fashion, and celebrity photographer.