“Take Control of Your Digital Photos,” Chapter 3
Although it’s possible to dump photos into a folder and call that “organization,” I don’t recommend doing so. My photo-management strategy relies on software to organize images and apply essential metadata. The time you save when tagging and searching for images justifies the price of a good photo-management program. But which one? I’d love to say, “Go get this one program and you’ll be set,” but that’s not realistic. The good news is that there are several interesting options for managing photos. Because it’s impractical for me to list every program out there, I focus on the features that I consider most essential for managing your photo collection and the specific programs that meet these criteria.
Jeff -- Enjoying the series -- gonna buy for a nephew.
Could you add a sentence or two about why you don't consider Graphic Converter for your photo management software? With the Browser tools it seems to have many of the capabilities you highlight in Chap #3, but it is sort of clunky.
To be honest, I hadn't used GC for a while. It looks interesting, but there doesn't seem to be a way to create smart filters, and essentially it fits into the category of directory viewers (although it is clever in that it can look into iPhoto libraries). I'm not seeing keyword support, either (although maybe I'm missing it, just scanning through a demo version of the latest v8).
I was perfectly happy with iPhoto. Tried Aperture but thought it was too complicated. Now, Jeff, you've got me thinking... looks like I'll have to give Lightroom a try.
Looking forward to seeing the entire book!
I was perfectly happy with iPhoto too, for a while. But the last version made things more difficult, especially in the realms I talk about here (offline photos, poor ability to export).
Jeff, I find Photo Stream a nice feature. I don't have to remember to import my iPhone photos into iPhoto. It's all automatic, and it's sorted by months! Do any of the other apps you review support Photo Stream?
Photo Stream is a feature exclusive to iCloud, so only iPhoto and Aperture support it.
I used iPhoto for some time, then moved to Aperture some years ago. I looked into Lightroom at that time, one feature that I find very important is the ability to create slide shows. You didn't use that as one of your main requirements. How do these different applications deal with slide shows?
Aperture and Lightroom have slideshow features. The Windows version of Photoshop Elements has a pretty extensive slideshow feature, but the Mac version doesn't.
This may not be an entirely common desire, Jeff, but do any of these apps make it easy to share photo libraries in these ways?
* Between multiple Macs. I have a Mac Pro and a MacBook Air, and I often want to work with photos on one or the other of the two Macs. The Mac Pro for editing and display, thanks to its big monitors, and the MacBook Air for when I'm traveling or just uninterested in sitting at my desk for an activity that's not really work-related. I could store the photo library on the Mac Pro or on an always-on Mac mini file server.
* Between multiple people. Although I take a lot more photos than Tonya does, it seems really wrong for us to have separate photo libraries, as we do now. Our photos are often of shared events, so of course I'd want to see hers and she mine.
iPhoto handles these situations miserably, and always has. It's possible to make it work, sort of, with various hacks and tweaks, but it's brittle and complex.
So the question is if Aperture and Lightroom make this significantly more possible?
I too am very interested in Adam's first question, sharing an library among multiple Macs in different locations.
I have a >20K iPhoto library on my iMac. Unfortunately, I can't remember the names of some of the people in these photos.
Ideally, I'd like to take my MacBook Air (MBA) with me and show these mystery faces to other family members who know the names. But, of course, I want the changes made on my MBA to apply to the library on my iMac.
Is multi-Mac support covered in a different chapter of your book?
If not, could you outline an approach for doing this?
Jeff and I talked about this, and it sounds, unfortunately, like there is no good answer - the apps just don't support it well.
In the past, I have sometimes moved my entire iPhone library from Mac to Mac to make it portable, but that's a lousy solution.
Interesting article, thanks. One issue I have, though, is that you seem to mention various positive features of Lightroom which you didn't mention for Aperture, implying the latter doesn't include them. I'm specifically referring to being able to assign different sets of keywords which can be switched and assigned with keyboard shortcuts, and nested search criteria, both of which Aperture also offers.
Also, with reference to portability, I am interested to see the detail behind your recommendation not to store files in Aperture's library. I spent a lot of time going back and forth with this when planning my move from iPhoto to Aperture, and in the end settled on the library. I was initially uncomfortable with 'locking up' my photos, but in fact Aperture has commands to both relocate library files into normal folders and to consolidate folders into the library. So I decided that I didn't want to mess about with file management but if I ever want to have my photos in normal folders, it's as easy as selecting the appropriate command. And it's worth noting that this is not an all-or-nothing approach -- even if Aperture is set to use the library, you can still choose to have some photos stored in normal folders. I feel that your description of Aperture's portability sells it a bit short, when in fact it is quite flexible.
None of this is to try to convince you that Aperture is better. In fact, from what I understand, some of the finer details of Lightroom's metadata handling are better and its support for plugins certainly is. But on the criteria you have above, it seems Lightroom has been given extra marks for features that Aperture does in fact have.
In the case of the Lightroom vs Aperture features, you're correct that Aperture does do that. The reason both apps are included is because they can do the things you mention, but I didn't want to repeat the same information for both.
As for portability and using a central library package file, my library has grown such that I can't keep it on a single drive. Or to be more specific, on a single drive in my MacBook Pro. So I'd rather start off with a system that lets me store the files where I want. But you're correct that it's not a lock-in situation. The photos can be moved later.
I used Aperture for a couple of years before switching to Lightroom, and that was based purely on performance. Aperture 2 was sluggish, but I figured it was my older MacBook Pro. Then Aperture 3 came out, also sluggish on that Mac, and I attributed it to age. But then I got a top-of-the-line MacBook Pro that same year and Aperture was still sluggish. That's when I jumped to Lightroom.
Jeff- Very timely article/book for me. I'm a long time iPhoto user who was just starting to question whether I needed something a little more robust and was just starting to research. My tipping point came about because of my own ignorance. I had uploaded many photos taken with my first Sony camera years ago as "referenced" photos (and of course they all started with "DSCxxxx" names starting with DSC0001. I would first upload them to my Mac in a to-be-imported folder, import to iPhoto, and then move them to their final place in my year-month folder directory structure. Then I upgraded to a new Sony camera and continued that process. Of course with a new camera, the DSCxxxx names reset and started out again with DSC0001. Well, eventually iPhoto started asking where the source was for my now-"duplicate" referenced photos - and I didn't know which one it was asking about. Looking at Aperture, it looks like it has a way for me to resolve that issue since I can reconnect the referenced photos with the new location of the source photos. The fact that Aperture and iPhoto can use the exact same library is a real bonus. So, unless your coming chapters convince me that Lightroom is a better choice, it looks like Aperture for me. As always, thanks for your fine work!
Aperture is still a fine choice, especially if your library is already there.
I considered including information about renaming photos to prevent the situation you ran into, but the apps do a fairly good job of keeping similar-named images separate (like automatically renaming them DSC0001-1.JPG or something). Many cameras also have a setting that lets you choose how image files will be numbered.
But that info seemed like it would appeal only to a small slice of readers, so I ditched it.
I'm really enjoying the book, and some of the comments. My situation is that I have 20000 odd photos that have included duplicates through crappy PC import processes before I went to aMac, and lots of scanned photos from my family history. I currently use iPhoto and with the originals I have a symbolic link into a Dropbox folder for backup. It would be very beneficial if I could rename the photos with a YYYYMMDD prefix for when I use the Dropbox app on my phone to look at the photos. Perhaps this kind of thing is of more interest than you think.
I'm really looking forward to this book and became a Tidbits member to read it serially.
The one topic that I hope you'll address is Lightroom/"Apple Ecosphere" (iPhoto, Aperture, iPhone, iPad, etc.) syncing. Like many other Lightroom users, I have been trying to solve this for years. As an all-Apple user, I know that my life will be easier if I just submit and use Aperture. But every time I try, I end up back with Lightroom, which with I've become proficient. Post-editing though, it would be far more useful to have my photos organized in the Apple Ecosphere. So then what to do? Export "finished"/edited photos to Aperture?
While we're all waiting for Aperture 4, there has *got* to be a better way to do this. I've written to many Mac and photo people over the years, but never gotten an answer or a solution. Here's hoping!
Hi Matthew, thanks for becoming a TidBITS member!
I don't understand the need to be in the "Apple Ecosphere" though. Since Lightroom works just fine on the Mac, you effectively are in the same ecosphere. I think the only thing you're missing out on is having direct iCloud Photo Stream access in your photo editing app. But when you connect the iPhone or iPad to your Mac, they're treated as cameras by Lightroom and you can import the images. The snag there is that I need to remember to launch iPhoto occasionally to grab all the Photo Stream images before they're erased on the server. But that can be ignored too by importing photos from the devices into Lightroom. (I go into more detail about Photo Stream in Chapter 4, but basically I view it as an interesting side service.)
So I don't see a need to keep everything in Apple's own apps. And in fact, with the way iPhoto has gotten more closed in the last revision, I think the notion that your life will be easier in an all-Apple-apps sphere is no longer true.
Strange as it seems to me now, I can't recall the last time I connected my iPhone or iPad to my Mac. That's how important the wireless aspect of Photo Stream is. Having your photos on all your devices (including Apple TV) is really useful. (That said, Apple doesn't seem to understand that users might not want *every* photo they take (parking spots and price tags, not to mention all the snaps you take just to get the *good* one!) in their Photo Stream.) Plus, while I do occasionally bring a good iPhone photo into Lightroom for editing (that noise reduction is killer), I then have to send it back to my iPhone where it becomes a 2nd file, etc.
Also, Faces and Places are pretty useful organizational tools. Hopefully they won't be abandoned in the next update. I know that Lightroom has a maps feature, but it's always seemed slower and clunkier than Apple's.
I'm looking forward to the rest of the book.
Also remember that videos aren't brought in via Photo Stream, so if you want to save them, you'll need to connect your device. That's slightly off topic for this book, but is worth remembering when relying on Photo Stream for photos.
Good point, Adam. Although videos will be supported in iOS 7.
I have the exact same question as the original poster, but I don't think that the concern was fully addressed. You addressed the import side, but what about the post-editing organization? The ability to sync events and albums FROM the photo library TO multiple iPhones and iPads seems like something that can only be done with iPhoto. That's a key part of the "Apple Ecosphere" (not just iCloud and Photo Stream, but iTunes syncing and the iOS Photos app) and something that I make extensive use of currently.
Will you be addressing solutions for this with non-iPhoto software?
Thank you, and ditto on becoming a member just to read this book serially. It's already provided some food for thought and I look forward to reading the rest.
Good chapters so far! Thank you.
Became a member just to read, though I resent the way you forced me into membership. I have been buying so many Take Control books, that I felt
1) I had paid my dues, and
2) you should make me a member without payment; a bit like airlines make me a gold or platinum member after so many miles.
I understand the need to earn a decent fee, however that whole membership model seems flawed to me. This is the first time you force people into membership, I believe, and in my humble opinion you should come up with a better idea; this could be perceived too close to extortion, and could cost you some of the excellent reputation you built over so many years. Why not give us an option to pre-pay the book with the right to read the chapters as they come up?
Here my question:
If I remember correctly, Adobe stopped selling at least some of its products, asking users to pay a yearly rental fee. Isn't there a danger that that will happen to Lightroom as well?
Thanks for becoming a member! We aren't forcing you, however. The full ebook will be available in one volume after we've published it all online. Becoming a TidBITS Member has many other benefits other than just reading this ebook. If we publish other titles using this model, you will already be ready to read them.
As to your question: Adobe has said that Lightroom isn't entirely in the fold of the Creative Cloud apps, and still available for sale individually. Yes, it's possible that Adobe might decide to put Lightroom on a purely subscription model, but right now it stands to the side of the Creative Suite. If Lightroom does switch over to that model, we'll probably see an exodus from it. We'll have to see.
As it stands, Aperture hasn't been updated in three years, and while I suspect Apple is working on a new version, there's no way to know for sure. All of our software is fleeting; we use the tools at hand.
As Jeff said, this is just an extra thing we're doing to thank TidBITS members for their support - the book will absolutely be available like any other Take Control title when it's done. All this project does is give TidBITS members an early look and the opportunity to comment ahead of publication.
I won't pretend that our goal isn't in part to encourage more people to become TidBITS members though - the simple fact is that it costs a lot of money to keep producing TidBITS for free each week, and fewer than 10% of our readers are paid members. Gotta keep the lights on and servers humming! :-)
I became a member because I have been reading TidBITS free for years and simply wanted to support it's continuation. I consider the advanced availability of the chapters as they come out to be a bonus, not something I'm paying for. I would have made a "donation" in any case, the same as I've done for shareware and occasionally for freeware when it's something really useful and appreciated.
Thanks for the feedback. Two things to consider, in addition to what Jeff and Adam said: First (and Jeff did say this), if we decide to do another ebook in this way, you will already be a member so you'll be able to read the chapters as they come out, no additional charge, assuming it's within a year. Second, we are such a tiny company that it makes me very nervous to have people pre-paying for a book, especially if the book is less than 75% written. If anyone gets hurt or sick, we could owe a lot of people money back and disappoint them.
Tonya and Adam,
I have the highest respect for what you have achieved with Tidbits. I know how difficult it is to earn a decent return with content. I have not only been an avid Tidbits reader but I also followed how you have evolved your business model over the years. Publishing the Take Control books seemed to be a very clever move, just like endorsing carefully selected products and accepting sponsorships.
However, the membership model does not feel right, yet. The fact that less than 10% of your readers have become members seems to confirm that it is somehow is flawed. I explained in my post why I did not become a member before now.
Normally, I would have waited for the eBook to be published rather than pay to read the draft; it is only because I am right now in the process of redesigning my photo workflow, that I decided to pay for the privilege. And that felt a little weird. I was allowed to read chapters one and two for free, and when it gets interesting in chapter three, only the membership will get me there. Drug dealers operate like that, I 'm told ;-)
Please do not get me wrong, I do not want to criticize but rather tell you that the way I feel you operate here is not like you; in my opinion Tidbits stands for competence and integrity. Maybe I am being excessively sensitive ...
Anyway, thank you again and keep up the good work.
Sorry it doesn't feel right to you - I'm not sure there's anything I can say to change that. All we're doing is giving you the opportunity to read a book early and give your feedback, and since the book will probably be a $15 book, it costs you only $5 more than the eventual ebook to benefit right now (rather than waiting another month or two). And you can be happy with the fact that you're supporting everything else we do with TidBITS, which you've presumably benefited from for some time for free.
The simple fact of the matter is that TidBITS costs a lot of money to produce and give away for free, and we have to earn it somewhere. As I said when I introduced the membership program back in December 2011, it really was necessary, since we couldn't keep going on the sponsorships alone.
By the way, getting even 10% of our subscribers to become members is really positive - I'd like it to be much higher, of course, but direct marketing experts are ecstatic if they can get 1% response rates. We'd expect to do better with a long-time, loyal audience, but 10% is still pretty good. We just want to do better.
I don't understand complaints based on false premises and I don't understand people who think they have some kind of right to get something for nothing at the expense of others.
Books are not required for life or health. If someone doesn't like the price being charged for a book, they are free to look for the information elsewhere. They are free to do their own research and write their own book and give it away if they wish.
I consider it very generous that this book is being provided free to members as it is being written. Nothing like that was promised as a benefit of membership.
No one is required to become a member to get access to the book, since it will eventually be published and sold separately, when it is finished.
I am not asking to get something for nothing, I am asking for more payment options.
I am a member, why aren't you?
Duane is a member (anyone who can see and comment on this article must be), but since he's chosen not to have that fact be public, he doesn't get an apple when commenting (since that identifies someone as a member).
As far as more payment options, what are you suggesting? Making the book available in this way is another option, and one we've never offered before.
this is now going way beyond what I ever intended to communicate.
I found Duane's comment (involuntarily) funny and wanted to be funny as well. It now seems that backfired badly :-)
As I said in my original comment I would have liked to have e.g. the option to pre-order and pre-pay rather than the only option to become a member.
Actually I should have tried to find a way to email you directly about that rather than use the comments section, but as I had a question for Jeff as well it was tempting to put it all in one.
Let me try to be crystal clear: I do not complain, I did become a member after all, I just felt a little ambushed.
As you point out, it is the first time you offered this, and I wanted to give you some feedback on that type of offer.
Otherwise I am a happy reader and I bought over 60 Take Control books over the years and I am grateful you are publishing Tidbits as well as the TCO books.
Thanks for the clarification, Chris, and sorry if this seemingly got out of hand - we just didn't want there to be any misunderstandings about our intents (or our capabilities - for instance, we can do pre-orders, but they're a lot of extra work for sales that are likely to come in anyway, so we do them only in special circumstances).
While vacationing at my daughters house, I was asked to make room on my son in laws 4 year old MacBook Pro. His 320 GB drive was full, so I moved his 100 GB iPhoto library to an external hard drive as I was reading this chapter. I named the external drive "iPhoto Library" to make it easy for him. After making backups, I deleted the iPhoto Library from his pictures folder. Now, iPhoto finds the pictures automatically on the external drive. Of course, the drive needs to be connected and that is not a problem for him. He is still running Snow Leopard.
iPhoto can be repointed at an iPhoto Library anywhere, and will remember that for future launches; the trick is just to hold down Option when launching it to be presented with a dialog to choose a new one. You can also double-click an iPhoto Library package to open it and make it the default.
I too was concerned about Adobe's recent move into the cloud and the effect that might have on Lightroom. I note your comment that you use the tools that are available.
It might therefore be worth including some comments on the possibilities of moving from one application to another, eg, Lightroom to Aperture. If there is a lot of information invested in one app, can it be retained if you move to another?
I'm looking into writing an extra chapter that covers moving from one app to another. Probably iPhoto to Lightroom as the focus, as that would be the most likely option for most readers. (iPhoto to Aperture, too, but that's really easy; moving to Lightroom is stupidly complicated.)
Right now Lightroom is the top application in the market, so even with the push to Creative Cloud, I don't see Adobe turning it into a cloud-based program yet. In a briefing I had with them, they emphasized that Lightroom is its own product (as is Photoshop Elements). You can buy Lightroom separately without the CC, although if you subscribe to CC you also get Lightroom.
Just installed Lightroom 5 to give it a try. When I went to import iPhoto 11 it ignores the iPhoto Library. Look at the On line help and it says to do the File->Import_iPhoto; not there.
Please do that extra chapter "Please" If not an Titbit article.
Monday's chapter details the (rather ugly) process of migrating from iPhoto to Lightroom.
I have a specific photo management problem and when I saw the first paragraph of Chapter One I gave a big YES! -- Unfortunately you never came back to that issue. So far most of the emphasis has been on one computer, one user, and one file system. Not that I don't have these issues, I certainly do! My most pressing issue is that I have temporary custody of 5 generations of family photos including Daguerrotypes, tintypes, tiny little negatives, and even a few whose major significance is how they were taken instead of the subject image. Now my problem is to categorize, label, and distribute these to relatives whose skill level, platform of choice, and access to the internet ranges from superb to nonexistent.
My current technique is to include folders within folders all within DVD1, DVD2 and include at the root level of each DVD an unformatted text file describing each folder and photo.
Another specific problem is photo acquisition. I have had several scanners and my current, a Canon CanoScan 8800F, is by far the best. Using their software I can multiple photos, slides, and negatives. My only real problem is with some tiny little negatives that were popular in the 1920's - 1950's or so and some of the large school portraits and strange photographs made of what appears to be carbon black on the inside of partial glass cylinders.
Sorry for the length, but these are the things I worry about.
This is a bit more of a sharing issue, so it's slightly out of scope. But what you're doing sounds eminently reasonable for a base level. What you might also consider (and here's where Jeff can perhaps chime in) is saving Aperture or Lightroom libraries out in some way on DVD so others can access them if they have that software, and potentially setting up a Flickr or other photo-sharing account for those who do have Internet access.
The reality is that you can't please everyone with the same solution, and it's mostly important that all the work you put in with keywords and metadata is at least not lost, even if it can't be shared usefully in all approaches.
Thank you Jeff, I am busy scanning all my old slides & photos for our children. I shall be 92 in November, & obviously have not too much time left on this planet. I use a Canoscan 9000F coupled with Vuescan Pro & have been looking for a way to store & classify. I shall buy Lightroom, following your advice.BTW, I have been a Mac fanatic since I bought my first MacIntosh in 1984. I now have an iMac 27" & MacBook Pro 13".