I keep files on my computer desk top labeled: Reference Clay, My Work, Teapots.
Whenever I download digital images of my work, I stick them into My Work. That way, I can keep better track of what I've photographed lately and what I have in my files already. I have a Resume, Portfolio and Shows Applications file folders located within My Work folder. It's a good way to keep track of where you are with your digital records.
The other files, Reference Clay, Reference Jewelry and Teapots are for images I run across on the web that I want to remember and look at some more. Or I might print them off for my paper files that I take to the studio for personal reference. With a Mac you can click on an image, hold down the curser and move it off a page onto the desktop. Then it can be sorted and filed for later viewing.
I started an image file 'way back in college in conjunction with study in commercial art. The idea was if you wanted to do an illustration, having actual photographs from publications and your own making of faces, locations and articles would help in pulling it all together for a composition.
I began filing references for paintings and graphic designs also. Loose examples in a file folder were much more accessible than images in a book or magazine or a group of slides or photographs. Until the computer, managing slides and photos always seemed to be clumsy and difficult.
Today, If you want to have an image within easy reach, you can even photograph it, download the image into your computer, print it off onto paper and file it in your personal files.
Tile piece by Bede Clark. Isn't it great?
When I tend to get too tight with glaze application, I can take a closer look at this jewel and get inspiration from it.
Since that beginning in college, I've kept up the idea of an image file. Over many years the idea has grown into many other files like travel, architectural design and interior files, antiques and furniture references, ethnic clothing, weaving, quilting and specialized sewing like French hand sewing.
I have a whole section of art business with shows, consignment form examples, information articles.
I have painting references such as faces, landscapes, abstracts. Jewelry files, paper box making, holiday designs, 2-dimensional graphics, handmade books files are also there.
I also keep files of my work in design and commissions. They take up 3 drawers in my office.
In my studio I have 3 more drawers filled with images of clay pieces--teapots, plates and platters, animal images, sculptures, drawings, patterns, booth display layouts etc.
There may be a photograph of a beautiful piece of fabric filed in the glaze ideas drawer--a motif in the design could be the beginning of a design on a pot, for example.
The rule is, if I look at anything in a magazine or on the web for more than a few seconds, it goes into the 'to be filed' stack or desktop folder.
When you think about it, 6 file drawers is not a lot of space, but once in a while, I purge them removing outdated images, information or ideas I am no longer interested in.
The system has served me well when I need an image for reference or to re-engage with an idea.