Damn You iPhoto (for iOS)!!!

Just when I thought I was out…they pull me back in… Al Pacino in The Godfather

I know it’s an overused line… but seriously… I just thought that I might be able to get the job done without using iPhoto except to move images from my iPhone or iPad to one of my computers for editing and posting. Ha! This just isn’t fair.

I got a copy of iPhoto for iOS right after last week’s keynote and it looks like such a great way to do the kind of editing that I was originally doing on my macs with more than a few neat twists like the photo journal mode. Damn. So, to recap my previous decision to not really use Photostreaming or iPhoto… it really came down to a workflow problem. Basically the initial version of Photostream built into iCloud and iPhoto was for those who like taking an occasional photo at an event and then have the photo show up on all of one’s devices where it can be shown to one’s friends. Period. That’s it. It’s basically for the digital polaroid gang. Shoot, view, have a few laughs with your buds. Yeah, not my bag.

My workflow was more like take hundreds of photos (seriously, I only spent a bit over an hour at Tricia’s mom’s showing of a couple of her paintings with her water-color society at a downtown gallery and I shot over 180 photos), copy them into iPhoto, organize the photos by event, select the best shots (actually more like delete the worst photos…), crop, edit (set contrast), then upload sets to flickr adding tags, short descriptions… Because my macbook-air is always with me I’ve been doing all of this work on the air. The frustrating part was that when I wanted to work using my iMac with it’s wonderful 27″ monitor the iPhoto library on that machine wasn’t in sync with my main one on the macbook air and there wasn’t any automatic way to keep them in sync. So everyone once in a while I’d move the whole library to the iMac but then there was always risk of over-writing the wrong library… blah, blah, blah. The best solution would be to put the iPhoto library on Dropbox but there’s so much going on under the hood with iPhoto that the Dropbox forums are full of horror stories from those who’ve tried this. Damn. I guess I could put the library on an external hard disk and just move it from air to iMac depending on which machine I’m using, but I bet there’s a number of gotchas that’ll get me with that idea. Besides, carting around an external hard disk in 2012 is lame. Damn.

What actually broke iPhoto/iCloud/photostream for me was when I was creating my macworld presentation at the end of January and I was working on my iMac but my iPhoto library was on my macbook air and I couldn’t get images to move back and forth between macs reliably. It was a mess. I started to look for alternative photo-ready file-browsers apps and decided to use Graphic Converter (added benefit was that I had an old clipart gallery called Hemera Photo Clipart and Graphic Converter can actually read the images…).

So, the other thing that I do more than anything with images is look for images to use with my blog posts and managing that using folders on DropBox was a no-brainer. Thus, for the past month I’ve been using iPhoto just to get images from my iOS devices and export them to DropBox, creating folders for each event or each month. I haven’t had the time to do much more than keep things organized and haven’t resumed uploading images to Flickr (which stalled out last summer when I went to California with Tricia for my dad’s funeral). With the introduction of iPhoto for iOS I knew that I was going to have to revisit iPhoto’s role in my workflow.

Long over due, I decided to check out how Graphic Converter did when it came to the final step in my work flow: moving images up to Flickr. Turns out that Graphic Converter, while up to date as far as working with Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, its roots were from an era before social networking and posting images to websites like Flickr or Picasa. Basically there was no “Sharing” option and one was left to use the web-based upload feature in Flickr. Yeah. I’ve been using a plug-in called FlickrExport for iPhoto (up to version 4.0.3) for years and going back to the web-based method would be a huge step backwards. Ugh. I briefly played with Adobe Bridge (CS5.5) to see if they did any better with the Flickr. Bridge at least had export presets for flickr (Facebook and photoshop.com) but it wasn’t nearly as seamless or automated as the FlickrExport plug-in. Damn.

Before going any further I really need to nail down what it is that I’m trying to accomplish with all of this technology. The two things that I do are posting images to flickr and looking for images for my blog posts. Also, given the tools available to me and the rumors that flickr isn’t getting any constructive attention from Yahoo and may disappear, I’m thinking that I need to figure out how to host my own images that works best for me. The leading notion is to build a WordPress blog and use a photo centric theme like StudioPress’ Landscape or Expose themes. If I’m going to host my own images, it needs to be something beautiful and not some clunky-tiny-image-catalog straight out of 1998. The question is how should I get there and which tools should I include/invest in.

I have to remember that iPhoto is most definitely heading in the Digital Polaroid “consumer” direction. Especially with the abandonment of iDisk, MobileMe and iWeb, Apple isn’t interested in helping you build webpages or online portfolios. The shift has gone from creating webpages and burning CDs/DVDs to sharing ones images/media on social websites or directly from ones devices via iCloud, possibly the end product being the background slide show running on ones big-screen TV (connect to an Apple TV). Interestingly, the Share button in the current version of iPhoto lists Order Prints, MobileMe Gallery, Flickr, Facebook, Email and Photostream as options. I wonder how long MobileMe Gallery will hang in there. Shoot and share… what’s MobileMe? Also, with the journal feature built into the just introduced iPhoto for iOS, it looks like, even though they want it to be all shoot and share with no other steps, they can’t help themselves but to create a tool that makes building a great visual storytelling webpage completely drag and drop. Hmmm… I wonder if there’s a way to embed the page instead of just having a link to a page on iCloud (let the hacking begin!). Besides building the iAuthor iBooks app, we now know what the team that built iWeb has been doing for the past three years. Damn. Excuse me while I look for an external hard disk big enough to store several years of iPhoto libraries. Why couldn’t I be satisfied with the notice of being part of the Digital Polaroid gang.

image by Apple, Inc.