Image Database Software: How to Choose the Right Tool for Your Business

Do you find this beyond frustrating too? You’re happily working on a new project. It’s going great and you’re in the zone. And then, the email arrives. A colleague is looking for a particular image. They complain that they can’t find a photo from a past campaign anywhere but that they need it now. So, you spend the next couple of hours digging through one image folder after another, wishing there was a better way.

And you know what, there is! You just need an image database software and in this guide, you’ll learn exactly what it is and how to manage your image and digital assets with it. And then, you’ll also discover what image database tools to use.
Intrigued? Well, let’s take it from the top, then.

Table of Contents

What is the Image Database Software?

I admit, the term – image database software – sounds very technical. 

It almost feels like it relates to something out of a laboratory or a research institute, not a content team.

(Even though the term might suggest it, this is not what image database software looks like.)

So, what is the image database software, then?

Well, the simplest way to explain it is as a system or a repository that you use to store, organize, and even distribute digital images

Think about it as a photo management app on your smartphone but with many, sooooo many more options to organize and manage all those images.

(This is what image database software looks like)

In short, image database is a software tool that lets you bring all your images in one place, and make them easy to find for everybody. 

And let’s face it, we all need as many ways to organize, categorize, and classify images as possible. 

We create more and more digital assets, after all, and that includes the ever-growing library of images.

Unfortunately, that’s where the problem starts, isn’t it?

  • You often end up wasting far too much time locating images and other files. 
  • With assets scattered across uncategorized folders, no one in the organization really knows what images you actually have. 
  • Projects go into production with errors or wrong versions of the image in them.
  • And then, there’s the whole area of compliance and copyright issues…

In other words, without a proper means to manage images and other digital assets, the content production becomes a mess. 

Image database software exists exactly to eliminate those challenges and more. 

Image database software and DAM

There is one other important aspect of the image database software I’d like you to understand before we move on. 

You see – in many cases, the image database comes as part of a larger system called DAM (digital asset management). 

DAM systems are software platforms you use to store, manage, and distribute ALL digital assets from one, central location or a hub.

On top of that, many DAM products offer additional features to help you and your team manage content production better, and route finished assets to relevant channels. 

TIP: Learn more about the best DAM systems available on the market, or read our advice on selecting the best DAM platform for your organization. 

Advantages and Benefits of Using Image Database Software

We’ve already discussed what issues and challenges image database software can help you overcome. But naturally, there are many other advantages of using those systems to store and manage your digital assets.

Here are just some of them.

Digital assets management. To begin at the beginning, with a solid image database software, the issues and challenges we’ve discussed earlier become a distant memory. 

Such systems allow you to manage and organize your images using several methodologies. You can organize images into folders, and add more meaning to each file with metadata, tags, and even naming conventions. You can use those features and more to create flexible node structures and asset collections that make it easy for anyone to find what they’re looking for in mere seconds. 

As a result, digging through disconnected harddrives to find the latest version of a particular image simply doesn’t happen again. 

Automating various processes around image management. Many image database platforms will include various AI-based automation capabilities that allow you to better manage your assets without actually having to do the work. 

With these systems you can quickly find similar assets, easily detect duplicates, and even apply tags automatically.

Version control tracking. Your image database software will also let you compare different versions of the file side-by-side to see and track what’s changed across different revisions.

Eliminating production errors. Have you ever sent a file to production with a wrong image on it? I know I did. And I know I wasn’t the only one. 

According to research by Harris Interactive, 81% of workers have found themselves working on the wrong version of a file.

And you know, even if the image gets published only on the web, there’s still a cost associated with changing it. That cost is a potentially damaged brand. 

Luckily, a strong image database tool will help you overcome such errors once and for all. With proper version tracking, tags, and other ways to organize files, as well as solid content approval processes, it’s almost impossible to publish the wrong version of the file. 

Saving time. Finally, all of the advantages above result in one major benefit – Saving your company an enormous amount of time. 

Since you’re not spending it locating files or correcting mistakes and replacing wrong versions of the file, you can get on with what you really want to do – the creative work. 

How Do You Know That You Even Need an Image Database Software?

Perhaps you struggle with asset management but the problem isn’t as severe (yet.)

Or maybe it is but you’re not convinced that you could get a buy in for the image database. 

Well, I’d say that if you’re experiencing any of the three major symptoms then, I’d suggest that the time to implement an image database is now.

Symptom #1: Constant production delays

Does your company constantly struggle with completing projects on time?

If the situation is not caused by bottlenecks in the feedback and review process, then, it’s most likely due to teams wasting time locating and managing visual assets.

Symptom #2: Greater demand for visual assets

Your company might also be creating (or intending to create) more visual assets. Every day, you and your team get more and more files to store and organize, and managing it manually is rapidly getting out of hand. 

Symptom #3: Recurring security concerns

Finally, you might also need to increase the security of image assets. So far, you’ve been storing them in folders across employees harddrives but that is no longer an option. You need a secure system that will ensure that only the right people can access the right files, and that there is absolutely no risk of assets being stolen or misused. 

What Features Should You Expect in a Strong Digital Image Database Software?

We’ve covered why you need image database software. But what should you expect it to do, specifically? 

Well, there are several features and capabilities without which an image database software simply can’t operate well. These are the features you should look for when evaluating different image database tools:

Support for multiple file formats. It sounds logical, doesn’t it? Since the image database software helps to store, organize, and manage images, it should work with all the different file formats used to create visual assets. But often, you find platforms lacking the ability to accept or manage certain files. So, when evaluating a platform, make sure that it can work with all the file formats your organization is using.

Automatic duplicate photo removal. Duplication is something that just happens and it’s almost as if we had no control over it. Try as you might, you’ll always have colleagues uploading several copies of the file to the server. The situation gets even worse when you don’t use a common naming convention. It also means that finding and deleting those duplicates is almost impossible. A solid image database software should be able to automatically do that for you, find all the duplicates, and delete them to save space and reduce the clutter of your image collection.

The ability to set and manage metatags. Metatags are one of the most powerful tools you can use to organize the photo and image collection. And so, your image database must support them, and allow you to specify metadata for images. Bonus if it also offers an Ai-powered way to automate the process.

Advanced search features. Finding assets is by far one of the most challenging tasks we face in our work. The image database software should eliminate that problem. How? Well, for one, it should include advanced search features like the ability to create flexible node structures and asset collections that meet your organizations’ needs. This way, you can go through vast amounts of files and find anything in an instant. 

Bulk uploading. This feature is particularly useful if you regularly need to upload bulk of files from photo shoots, etc. In this case, your image database should be able to ingest all those files with just one click (rather than having you manually upload each image one by one.)

Version control. Most files undergo a whole range of changes as your teams work on them. From simple tweaks to major reworks, you should be able to quickly compare revisions and identify what’s changed.

Roles and permissions. With so many images in the database, you should never have to worry that an unauthorized user would access specific files. The roles and permissions features ensure that only the right people access the right data. 

Integration with your other tools. Finally, the image database should easily connect with and work with the other tools you use, be it Adobe CC or Microsoft Office 365.

What Are Your Options? Three Types of Image Database Tools You Can Choose From

So far, I’ve used this term – image database software – to describe such tools in general. However, there are, actually, three types of such software products that you could use to store visual assets:

Option #1. General file storage systems

You’re probably familiar with systems like Dropbox or Google Drive already. The chances are that you use those to store personal files. And the chances are that you either use or consider using those systems to store your organization’s digital assets. 

These general file storage systems offer several advantages. They are easily accessible. Many, like Google Drive come in as part of a larger offering that you might have already. And they are relatively inexpensive. 

However, they come with certain disadvantages too. For one, their file organization and management capabilities are limited to folders. You can’t add metadata and any advanced information to files. Nor you can use Ai and automations to manage your collection better. 

Option #2. Online photo libraries

Another option you could consider are dedicated online photo libraries like Google Photos or Veer. These systems specialize in storing image files, and allow you to upload vast amounts of assets, organize them in folders, and share access to those assets with other stakeholders. 

Unfortunately, these systems often support only the most common file formats. Their organization capabilities can be limited too. 

Option #3. Dedicated digital asset management solutions

Finally, there are the proper, full-blown DAM platforms that offer image database management. 

These tools, as we’ve discussed earlier, are designed to help you store and manage all the company’s digital assets. As a result, they offer all the features and capabilities I mentioned above, and more, to help you ensure that you and everyone else involved in a project can find and retrieve files quickly. 

How to decide which option will work best for you?

As you’ve seen above, each of the three options offers different advantages and is best suitable for different use cases. Therefore, to choose which one’s the best for you, I recommend you evaluate your needs, and match them with the type of image storage solution each of these systems offer. 

Here are some questions you could ask yourself to help find that out:

How many visual assets do you have right now? 

Assess the current size of your image library. If your company has only a small amount of images, you might be able to manage them with a photo library or a file storage system. 

However, if you already have hundreds of images or more, then, you might need a proper digital asset management system to organize it all. 

How complex is the structure of your image library?

Ask yourself: How many different types of files do you create? Do you use them across several projects? Or do you create individual assets for every project, something that requires a complex folder structure to manage?

What is the scale of your content production?

In other words, how many new assets do you think the organization will create in the near future? If the answer is many, then you definitely need a proper digital asset management system. 

How many people need access to digital assets on a regular basis?

Finally, think about the number of users who’ll need access to the library? If it’s just you, then you probably could manage it to some extent with a file storage system. But if you have several stakeholders who need to access, upload, and retrieve files, then I’d recommend that you invest in a full-blown image database software or a DAM system.

Meet Celum - The Image Database Software and Digital Asset Management Solution for You

CELUM (disclaimer: this is naturally our tool) is one of the leading digital asset management platforms with image database management capabilities. 

CELUM brings together project management, file management, agile task management, a full content hub, online proofing, and more to help companies like yours deliver video and other content projects faster and more efficiently. 

CELUM offers all the functionality to get everyone involved in video projects on the same page and boost teamwork and collaboration: 

  • Complete image database. From the ability to ingest massive amounts of visual assets (including photos and videos) with one click, to powerful options to store and organize those assets, and more, CELUM offers a complete image database solution for the most demanding businesses. 
  • Advanced file management. With CELUM’s shared workrooms, you can efficiently store and organize your team’s work too. You can also link files directly to specific tasks to improve productivity further.
  • Advanced collaboration tools. In CELUM, all stakeholders – from in-house creative teams to external vendors – can collaborate and get things done easily. With CELUM, you can set advanced roles and responsibilities and use Robots to automate many tedious management tasks. 
  • Proofing workflows. The platform also features robust templating capabilities allowing you to create workflows for different project types. This way, you can ensure consistency and quality for every project you need to complete. 
  • Revision history. CELUM gives you access to a complete revision history to compare different versions of files and monitor how projects evolve. 

How much does CELUM cost: CELUM offers a free 30 days trial. Teams can avail of paid plans starting at €14.90 per month. 

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