a final decision: photo organization.

[warning: to most (all?) of you, this will be really boring. it is about how i have chosen to organize my photos on the internet]

well, my friends, i think i finally have it figured out. it took me a few days, a whole lot of tests, and some serious frustration, but i think i've got it.

background i have two computers, one which i use as a general server, and one, my laptop, which i take with me everywhere and do most of my work on. i use my server to sync my iPhone and iPod, as well as my apple tv. this means that my photos all need to be housed on my server, with either references to or copies of on my laptop.

i essentially have two categories of photos that i need to deal with:

  • the first, which i refer to as my "nice" photos, are those taken with my Nikon D70s. for these photos, i use aperture to edit, and occasionally photoshop (CS3). i then export them to join all of my other photos.
  • my other photos, commonly referred to as my "fun" photos or my "other" photos, are taken with my sony cybershot, my iPhone, or stuff that other people have sent to me.

until now, i've been using iPhoto to organize all of these. for years, i was hesitant to start using iPhoto, but improvements made for iPhoto '08 (and now, iPhoto '09) convinced me to jump into it, and i've been pretty satisfied. it works really well with my iPhone, and my iPod, and generally does everything i need it to. i have a few problems with it, the biggest one being its file management, but every software i've ever used does too. i would consider moving back to aperture for all of my photos, but i like to keep my "other" photos separated from my "nice" photos. my total library is roughly 12gb.

in my internet world, i have currently four places to put my photos:

  • flickr -- $25/yr for unlimited storage. it has great organizational features, including tags, geolocation, and most of my friends have accounts. uploading from my iphone requires sending an email, which is kind of a pain (and there's no reference to what i've uploaded in my iPhoto library). i've used this for years. for a long time, i was very happy with it. i even got a few photos on flickr's top 500 "interesting" photos list for a while. but then weird creepy guys starting favoriting photos of some of my friends in such a way that creeped me out. this scared me to death. so, i wrote up my own site:
  • petercompernolle.com/photos -- this is where i post my "nice" photos. i did this because flickr scared me. and as fun as the community can be on flickr, they tend to be a bunch of snobs who criticize other people's photos without any constructive criticism or photos to show they know what they're talking about. my site is a little broken now, but it was great at one point. if i were king of the universe, i would make more time to fix this site up.
  • MobileMe -- i recently decided to get MobileMe, apple's "cloud computing" solution to a lot of things. i think mobileme's galleries are beautiful. *saulemander* thinks they're slow, and *benji!* doesn't like it because they don't have RSS feeds for individual photos, but rather only albums. i already pay $100/yr for mobileme, and the gallery comes with it with 20gb. uploading to this is extremely easy. in fact, it will even syncronize with my iPhoto library if i want it to.
  • peterdot -- i use this to post pictures very rarely. usually they're of me. i don't really consider this to be even worth noting.

issues there are several things which i need to fix to make my photo universe a perfect one. some of them probably can't be resolved, but it's still worth trying.

  • move all photos into the iPhoto library. currently, many of my photos are stored as files outside of the library, which makes backup and transportation very complicated, risky, and difficult.
  • sync two machines' iPhoto libraries. this is way more complicated than it sounds. if possible, i'd prefer not to buy any additional software for syncing. i've yet to find a solid sync software for anything that was not written by apple.
  • upload "fun" photos to a place with comments, and a place where most of my friends will see it without making an effort
  • upload "nice" photos to a place that looks professional, and probably doesn't allow comments. storage space isn't hugely necessary here, as i don't post a lot of them; but what i do post has very high resolution
  • make it easy to upload "fun" photos from my iPhone, because that's what i use the most now to take such photos. while i can upload to anything from my computer, uploading directly from my iphone -- right after i take it -- makes it harder for me to forget to upload.

options each service has some significant problems for what i need. the pros and cons:

  • MobileMe
    • no comments
    • very pretty
    • simple
    • a little slow
    • designed to sync with all of my devices
    • i already pay for it
    • RSS feeds are by album, not by photo (benj, couldn't i just make an album called "all" and you can get RSS feeds from it?)
  • flickr
    • creepy people
    • unlimited storage, as long as i pay $25/yr
    • good organization
    • very ugly site, in my opinion
    • all of my friends already use it
    • does not sync well with my devices

my conclusion
my conclusion is still not perfect, but i'm pretty satisfied with it.

first, i've already moved all of my photos into my iPhoto library. this was a pain, but i couldn't find any better solution. basically, i manually moved everything. it took me about three hours, but it worked, and i didn't need to worry about any fancy software screwing up my photos.

now that i've got all my photos in one clean place, i could just copy it to my laptop every now and then, but remember to only make changes to one. i'm not going to do that, because it's messy. instead, i'm going to use MobileMe's ellegant syncing capabilities. in my server's iPhoto library, i'm going to make loads of smart albums (a smart album is one that is generated dynamically based on certain criteria. for example, find all photos of daisy that are three stars or higher. or find all photos i took in japan. etc). i haven't quite decided yet, but i think i'll do this mostly by location, since that's often the way i look for photos (i just remember where it was, then a date. easy enough, right?). then, i'll "publish" these smart albums to mobileme. i'll only publish three star photos or higher, so it'll keep it simple, and i'll know that every picture there is one i want to see. then, on my other computer -- get this. so cool -- i can drag and drop the mobileme albums into my iPhoto, and it'll sync them. so that means the two iPhotos are synced via these albums. (note: i may make an album of all my photos, just so i have access to each. not sure yet.)

since no one will ever look at my mobileme gallery, i'll continue to use flickr. this will be an extra $25/yr to a company i don't really want to support (i still support you, omer!), but i've already established my presence there. i'll continue to upload these as i have been -- photo by photo, mostly from my iphone, and only "fun" photos. i probably won't make too much of an effort to tag or organize these. but you guys can still look here to see what i'm up to.

and that's that. again, it's not perfect, but it'll do. who knows, maybe flickr will make a solid app for the iphone that makes uploading easier. in fact, i'm kind of surprised they don't already have one.

any thoughts? has anyone else found a better solution?

June 30, 2009 @ 7:53pm . 80 views . 5 comments


i did some searching in the app store and found a good app for flickr uploads on my iphone. works pretty well. doesn't work in the background (emailing does, however), but this looks like a good solution!

THE Lowly Peon | June 30 @ 8:46pm

This solution makes sense to me, especially since you can upload to flickr from within iPhoto.

Benji! | June 30 @ 9:55pm

true. uploading to flickr is easy, the reason I was hesitant to doso before was that it doesn't keep good track of photos you've already uploaded. in the past, I just tagged each of them with "flickred". but yeah, I think thus will work.

also, iPhoto has a way to publish to flickr. if this is similar to the mobileme publishing, then I've got lots of work to do :)

THE Lowly Peon | June 30 @ 10:59pm

wait, you have photos of daisy that are less than three stars?

Saulemander | July 1 @ 6:55pm

okay, bad example. i suppose this is why there are lots of photos of daisy, but close to zero of you, Saulemander ...

THE Lowly Peon | July 2 @ 7:07am