Life after Aperture

I have been an Aperture user for many years. I was shown it's excellence by a photographer when I was installing an Epson printer at an AD agency in Gothenburg. A brief overview where Photo Stacks and Aperture edits where shown to me made me realize that iPhoto was not good enough for me. Since I have a lot of experience with Apple and their software and their somewhat strange attitude to keep data safe, I never trusted iPhoto with my pictures. I always kept my files on my hard drive as: YEAR/MONTH/DAY/YEAR-MONTH-DAY-NUMBER.jpg. Images are then only referenced in iPhoto or Aperture, so if or when the Photo Library crashes for some reason my images are kept safe on the file system. Also, migrating to another application is also quite easy.

So, what made it easy to migrate from iPhoto to Aperture, is now making it easy to move away from Apple software completely regarding my Photo management? Yes and no. My edits of my pictures as well as my albums, for example vacations or birthdays, won't transfer over easily. But when it comes to pictures taken three years from now, it is fine if I just have them sorted by date.

Apples last take on managing photos in the cloud has been terrible, I don't know how many users I have helped over the last years. The following is my main issues with Photo Stream:

  • Only pictures goes into Photo Stream, no video
  • Pictures are not deleted on the iPhone or iPad after transferring to the cloud
  • If you edit pictures on one device, or make albums, nothing is reflected in your other devices (this is not true for Aperture between Macs, when images are imported into an album, it is reflected on the other Mac but only one time and only one way)

All the reasons above gives the user even more problem than it tries to solve, full devices, some data is shared automatically, some is not. The user needs to know exactly what is imported automatically and what is not. Currently I recommend all users to skip Photo Stream completely and just import images into iPhoto manually.

I have the following requirements for my photo workflow:

  • All images should be backed up in a remote location
  • I need access to my pictures from various devices, iPhone, iPad, MacBook
  • I would like to have edits and albums to transfer and update among devices

One example workflow I came up with is the following and involves Adobe Lighroom and Smugmug.

  • I import pictures to one computer to a file system based catalog
  • Make monthly albums on Smugmug and upload pictures every month

With this workflow I have all my images available both on disk directly and through Lightroom. There are many drawbacks though, I won't have any images appear on my other iDevices. Changes to my Photo library, ie happenings like birthdays and travel trips are not easily done.

Another future workflow involves Apples new Photos app and iCloud Photo Library. It seems to solve the main issues I have with Photo Stream. It uploads and stores both still images and videos to iCloud, Albums and edits are synched through devices.  According to Apple, if space is low on the iPhone, high res images are deleted and only an optimized version is stored on the iPhone. Will this be the solution for all users of 16GB and smaller iDevices? It seems not, because if you have a really large Photo Libary, even low res versions of ALL photos will take up space. If you delete a photo on your iphone, it will be deleted from alla devices. You can go back and restore photos from 30 days back. In the future, we might get a "keep photos from last xx days on this device". Or only Favourite photos should be stored forever?

To sum it up, Apple seem to have solved some issues, but not all.