Off-season project: working on my archive

Posted on January 18, 2011

These six images represent just a few of the 470 scans I need to caption in order to update my online archive.


People always ask me what I do once the baseball season ends after the final out of the World Series. I usually give them a generic answer about editing and captioning and working on my archive. Actually that is what I am supposed to be doing. The mean boss inside my head is always yelling at me. He is constantly telling me I need to get off my ass and work on my archive so it is as up-to-date as possible. The lazy side of me just wants to relax and get caught up on the latest episodes of The Jersey Shore, American Pickers, and Top Chef All-Stars.

This is where it all starts. This original slide of Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar is one of the 470 that were recently scanned for my archive. Now I have to caption them all. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Luckily I am not starting from scratch. That was many years ago when I was way behind and staring up and an ungodly pile of old slides and DVDs full of digital files. Happily my current archive housed on PhotoShelter consists of close to 44,000 images going back to 1987, most of them baseball. I had over 5,000 old chromes dating back to 1987 scanned into 50 megabyte TIFF files a few years ago when I did an initial edit through binders and binders of slides. Between getting the slides scanned and captioning them myself this project took about two years. It was not much fun, but it was very gratifying when I finished. Who else has a nice on-deck circle portrait in their personal archive of Todd Benzinger in a Giants uniform from the 1994 season?

This is scary. Most of the 470 scans I need to caption are staring me in the face here in Photo Mechanic. Yikes. Where do I start?

From the first pitch of spring training to the final out of the World Series I shoot close to 100 Major League games over an eight month period. I do a good job of keeping up with my editing and captioning during the season, but it leaves me little time to work on adding old stuff during this busy time. I got a big stack of DVD’s back from my terrific scanning buddy Dave Bonilla last spring and quickly came up with many excuses why I did not want to tackle the job. I figured it would be a great off-season project. Perfect. I could put it off for months! Suddenly the off-season was here and I wanted no part of doing this.

Starting is the hardest part, and typing my usual super-anal captions for all 470 images seemed like a very daunting task. I do my best to write full captions, naming both teams who played in the game with the correct year in which the picture was taken. If I can get the actual date the game took place it is even better. No “circa 1990’s” for me. I need to be exact, and luckily there are enough uniform patches and bizarre memories floating around my head to make this all possible. It just takes time and research.

Staring at a blank caption in Photo Mechanic is no fun. Luckily I remember shooting this at Candlestick Park in 1987 when Pete Rose was managing the Cincinnati Reds.

Not only is the off-season here, but the new year is here! Pitchers and catchers report in less than a month so I had to start captioning this batch of 470 scans. It finally happened last night. Before I went to bed I made myself get started. First I batch captioned all 470 images with one caption so every image would be formatted the way I wanted. Just for fun I made every image former Giants pitcher Bill Swift pitching at Candlestick Park in San Francisco in 1994. Since I had many images shot at Candlestick during this time already having the images captioned this way would save me time. I managed to crank through 100 captions in a few hours and was satisfied with the small dent I had put into this mess. I finally broke the ice and had a plan. I dove back in this morning and cruised through about 40 more before I took a break to write this blog post.

Some of my recent scans in Photo Mechanic.

My goal is to be finished captioning by tomorrow. It will take me several hours to upload my finished files to PhotoShelter, and once they are done I will double check all the captions before I flip the switch to make all of the images live in my searchable archive. Let me tell you- that is a GREAT feeling. Being able to take control my images is a truly special feeling. These are my images. They are available to be licensed by editorial clients, and no one can ever take them away from me.

I feel very fortunate that there is so much amazing technology out there right now to make my freelance business possible. If I was trying to organize my files for an online archive years ago it would not be possible unless I spent a ton of money and had some custom database program written for me. This would be a nightmare to maintain and would more than likely keep all my chromes snuggled in my old black binders, unable to generate any income. Thanks to the amazing technology offered by PhotoShelter freelancers like myself are able to keep control over our images and maximize every dime we can from the images we have fought so hard to keep the copyright to. More and more clients are avoiding the large corporations and coming to individual artists like me for images. This is a growing trend and one I am taking advantage of.

I better get back to my captioning. Only 330 more captions to write. If I can reach my goal I will be able to get caught up on all my DVR’d programs guilt-free in a few days.

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