organization and printing? I realize there are probably many approaches here but I'm looking for how to best handle my photos as I accummulate more and more.
You'll probably end up with several programs in your digital photographic arsenal. You'll eventually want to create a "workflow", a method of taking the photos from the camera, archiving them and working with them.
Keep in mind that your original photos are your negatives - once you've made an initial editing selection (i.e. keeping the ones you want) you'll want to make sure your photos are stored safely and easily accessible for future use. My own workflow goes something like this:
1) shoot the photos (at the highest resolution the camera will allow).
2) dump them to the computer (Zoombrowser in my case - although I also use Breezebrowser ( www.breezesys.com ) for other things).
3) make an initial selection of "keepers" (before deleting from camera's memory card or microdrive)
4) mark these files as "read-only" and make a copy to a CD-RW before deleting the files on the CF card or microdrive
5) When I have some logical groups organized (ie. summer vacation 2002, my trip to the zoo, etc.) I then burn two CDs with these original photos. I store one CD in the house and one offsite (in case the house burns down or my computer (and CDs) get stolen).
6) Make contact sheets of the images on the CD. These are just image files with small thumbnails of your photos. I use a program called ThumbsPlus ( www.cerious.com ) for this. My contact sheets are 1240 x 940 (just slightly smaller than my screen size) and I get 40 very viewyable photos per sheet.
When I want to retrieve a photo, I just scan through my contact sheets to find the image I want - pop in the CD that the contact sheet refers to and load it into my favourite image editing software. Programs such as ThumbsPlus also have powerful database capabilities, but I don't make use of these (too much work ) I can quickly scan through several thousand photos on my contact sheets to find the photo I want.
This is a workflow for my original photos (my negatives). I use a similar flow for edited photos (i.e. print ready photos).
There are more tools coming on the market to help with organization (my method is a "low tech" variation). Some software such as iMatch ( www.photools.com ) is specifically designed to organize digital photo collections.
The secret is really just keeping logical groupings, archiving your originals and edited photos to CD, and using a retrieval system that you are comfortable with and one that works for you.