"What to Do About iPhoto?" - Digital Photography Podcast 161


Now that iPhoto '09 is shipping, I thought that I'd take a moment to address the question, "What to do about iPhoto?" Should you upgrade to the latest version? If you're just setting up iPhoto for the first time, what should you know? And if you want to migrate from iPhoto to a professional photo management application, what's the best way to go? I tackle these questions and more in this week's podcast.

Monthly Photo Assignment

About Face is the January 2009 Photo Assignment. Think about creative ways to make a portrait. It doesn't always have to be the "smiling into the camera" composition. You can read more about how to submit on our Submissions page. Deadline for entry is Jan. 31, 2009.

Listen to the Podcast

Now that I've piqued your curiosity, it's time to listen to today's audio show titled, "What to do About iPhoto?" You can download the podcast here (29 minutes). You can also subscribe to the podcast in iTunes

The Digital Story podcasts are available for direct download from Apple iPhones. I've created a special mobile download page here. Just load the page in Safari, browse the podcast line-up, and click on the one you want to listen to.

Want to share photos and talk with other members in our virtual camera club? Check out our new Flickr Public Group. It's a blast!

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I have been using iPhoto 08 for about a year and wanted little more. I heard about Photoshop elements 6 for mac and ordered it from Adobe. I am now wondering if it is worth the bother and I'm thinking I should go farther. I listened to the pod cast and it did not come up. Would I be better off with Aperture 2 or Light room 2 for the extra $100 or so? please email me and let me know. thanks!!!

Hey Derrick, no mention of Google Picasa?

I hate iPhoto. And that's not due to lack of trying because I've gone through the last several versions but the same things keep biting me. But here's where I think Derrick may have missed something. This will sound like an infomercial, but you need to try Google Picasa WITH iPhoto.

1) Load Time:
I'm not sure what boggs down iPhoto so much but opening my 500picture iPhoto takes 10x longer to open than my 20k photo library in Lightroom. So I just sit there looking at the photos but unable to touch anything because I'm hypnotized by that beach ball and waiting for control.

Picasa opens in seconds. Literally! So if you just want to grab a quick photo from your library then it may take 5 minutes in iPhoto but 30 seconds in Picasa.

2) Gray Box of Death:
Move a photo that iPhoto is managing and you get a gray box that you can't do a thing with. It's like trying to get an elephant off your driveway because it just won't move and gets in the way.

Picasa doesn't do this. Apple's iPhoto/iTunes team should learn from this because rather than forcing a library, Picasa monitors folders. If you move or add a new photo Picasa sees it and matches it's library to the folders it watches.

3) Playing Nicely with other Apps:
While Mac users benefit a lot from the integration of iPhoto into the OS, many 3rd party apps can't access those locked down photos.

Picasa plays friendly with iPhoto and everything else because while it CAN import photos into it's own library, the better solution is that it sees your iPhoto library and simply puts it in its database. So you can browse through (read-only) with full access to tag searching and all.

Anyway, I know that sounded like a sales pitch but as someone who's used Picasa on PC for years then I definitely think it's a fantastic app to add to your photo suite.

Hi Tom, Personally, I don't think Photoshop Elements is a worthy workflow replacement for iPhoto. Elements is great as a pixel editor, but its feature set doesn't compare to Aperture or Lightroom for managing and outputting images. Plus, I think the editing tools in both Lightroom and Aperture are more fun to use.

We all need a copy of Photoshop for certain type of jobs, but as the only solution, I don't think Elements is the best way to go.

What a timely podcast! I'm about to buy an iMac and I have been pondering what to do about the photo software. Never have used iPhoto and don't know whether I want to upgrade to either Aperture or Lightroom, so the tip about creating the reference library as apposed to letting iPhoto hold the pictures is excellent.

I'm not a pro-photographer and it may be the iPhoto is plenty for me. So now at least I know what I'm looking for with it. Thank you!

Okay, after several grueling hours of Face tagging with iPhoto then I can sum up the experience in one sentence:

"It's good enough to be impressed with, but not good enough to be relied on."

Don't get me wrong, Face recognition is one of the most exciting things in photo management, but even at an impressive 60-70% accuracy then you're still stuck with 30-40% missed or mislabeled tags. And in my 20k photo library that means days and days of telling the software that the ugliest guy in the family doesn't look anything like me so please keep him out of my personal Face-file.

Anyway, I'm very impressed with the software and can't wait to show it off. But to be honest, it's taking away from my iLife experience because I've had the software for 2 days and have yet to mess with anything except Face-Tagging.

(BTW. The #1 feature in iPhoto 09? The slideshows. The sliding panels and album ones are so beautiful so why aren't they offered as a screensaver option?)

While this little project started out fun, once the excitement of 'How did iPhoto know that's even a face' was over then the sluggishness of the software (even on my new 4GB Macbook Pro) was unbearable, and beware false sense of accomplishment when you think you finally finished properly naming a person only to have the next search pull up another 400 pictures with 60% of them being horses or cousins.

Don't get me wrong. I think the feature is great. But it just demands too much input from the end user so it's not going to be a seamless addition to your workflow.

I too would be very interested to hear your impressions of Picasa for Mac. As someone who uses iPhoto for management and not for editing, if I move away from iPhoto I'm more likely be go to Picasa than to Aperture et al.

Thanks for the podcast, good stuff!