Photo Organization with Visual Browsing Capability? Or Just Tag It All?
March 6, 2014 9:52 AM   Subscribe

I want to improve my digital photo organization at work, and I don't care about anything in iPhoto except Events. Unfortunately, I really appreciate being able to visually browse Events as a central database of every photo upload ever. It feels like there's no easy visual browsing in the Adobe suite, is this true? Should I just get better at using keywords in Bridge, or is there something magical in Lightroom that I don't know about?

Why this is all so important to me:

I'd be fine just using iPhoto to browse events if it didn't lose the folder once I moved it. I need to store images with their associated design projects (easier for coworkers who need access to files, and easier for future me to work with projects), so I can't let them live in the secret iPhoto library forever. However, being able to see every set of images in chronological order and represented by an official thumbnail is super great!

I'm comfortable sorting/rating/tweaking my photographs in Bridge and working on them in Photoshop, and would consider getting Lightroom if it had a similar functionality to the Events view, but it doesn't seem to. I understand that you can do a lot with keywords, but I work in an environment with a lot of repeated elements, and I'd rather not have to meticulously catalog every single new picture or go back and retag years of old photos with every single word I could imagine myself searching for.

Workflow: I visit multiple store locations, and usually take a variety of pictures every time (displays, customers, signage, store layout). I also take photographs of people using product and wearing official merch. I often upload multiple "events" per day.

I forget about certain photoshoots sometimes, and something visual reminds me: "Hey! You know that time you took a picture of a dude outdoors for a sale, and he had a themed product beside him on the grass? You can use the shot of that themed product for the social graphic you need for theme week!"

Events is also super helpful for going through hundreds of coworkers' photos; I can quickly get a visual sense of what was happening in each shoot.

Am I stuck between two worlds, or is there something that combines advanced photo organization and easy visual browsing of photoshoots? Or, alternately, is my reluctance to upgrade to advanced tagging/keywords holding me back here?

Note: I have access to, so if anyone has any recommended tutorials for certain programs, or even program/function recommendations, I will definitely check them out there.
posted by redsparkler to Computers & Internet (1 answer total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You're in a difficult place.

Your workflow is, er, unique to you, so that most pro level photo organizers will operate differently. Most pro photographers, including myself, are nerdy organized about our files and programs like Aperature and Lightroom are designed around this assumption.

You have two choices:

1) Stick with iPhoto and it's unique visual organization system. This is not found elsewhere. IPhoto is a pretty good program and if it works for you and your colleagues' work flow then no worries. It has serious limits for comparing photos and working with groups (because it stores everything in it's own file that's less easy to share), but if you can surf that then that's that.

2) Change your workflow and migrate to a pro level tool.

Allow me to make a case for changing your workflow. Like yourself, I take thousands of photos each shoot. I store these photos in carefully labeled folders with the date and name of project. I've spent time developing a naming strategy that makes it easy to get to the things I want to get to. This takes time to do, but the rewards are worth it.

One of the rewards is that it's super easy for my collaborators and assistants to work with the same files. We all know the system and can easily find what we need.

Another reward is that this system is super compatible with backing up. I can easily drag this library to an external drive and not only is it backed up, but the backup is easily used by another computer or another time (unlike time machine which would otherwise backup your iPhoto library--a single "mysterious" file that's harder to crack open). And lets face it: easy and safe backups allow us to sleep better.

IPhoto is limited. There is no way to easily find the best photo in a series--something I need every shoot. Aperature and Lightroom both have this ability to choose one photo on half the screen while using the other half screen to search and compare other images that might be better. Plus, if you're working with clients, iPhoto just looks amateur (I know--that hardly matters--but there I said it).

Although I like Aperature's interface better, I've switched recently to Lightroom because of it's amazingly generous file system. Aperature is similar to iPhoto in how it stores photos in it's own library that's kind of mysterious. Lightroom is much smarter. Lightroom looks at your own folders. The advantage of Lightroom is that you can store your own files in your own custom folder system that makes sense to you and Lightroom references these files without creating it's own library (protecting disk space and flexibility). Once you link your own folders to Lightroom, you can easily see/compare/organize your images in Lightroom, unlike looking at them in the painfully slow Finder (especially if you use raw files).

But you know, everybody is different. If iPhoto is your cup of tea then you need to drink that. To answer your question: no, I'm not aware of another program that organizes files visually like iPhoto.
posted by Murray M at 10:38 PM on March 15, 2014

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