Photo Management Software
Do you love taking pictures? Looking for a way to manage your exploding photo collection? Do you have a hard time locating pictures or sorting your picture collection? If you answered "yes" to any of the questions above, you might want to look into getting a photo management software solution for your photo collection. This kind of software lets you sort, manage, and share your digital photo collection easily, conveniently, and quickly.
November 26, 2010
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is a photo management software created by publisher adobe systems incorporated.
November 30, 2010
ACDSee Photo Manager is a photo management software created by publisher ACD Systems International Inc.
October 08, 2012
IMatch is a photo management software and image organizer for Windows operating systems by publisher Mario M. WestPhal (Private Publisher).
March 25, 2011
ACDSee Pro for Mac is a Photo Management Software for Mac OS X created by ACD Systems International Inc.
November 30, 2010
ACDSee Pro Photo Manager is a professional photo management software created by publisher ACD Systems International Inc.
Photo Management Software
What is Photo Management Software?
Photo management software makes tracking, managing, and importing your photos quick and easy. In addition to these core features many of these software packages also allow you to edit your photos quickly and give them quick touchups. You would need these quick editing tools to remove red eye occurrences and other annoyances that occur with bad flash photography as well as with various camera types and photo sources. And finally, once you have your photos done, you would want to share them. Many of these photo management software allow for online storage. They either work with online services so you could store your photos online.
Photo Management Software Features
When considering photo management software, you have to keep in mind three elements:
- File management features
- Photo sharing features
You need to consider each of these clusters of features so you can match your particular photo management usage requirements and pick the right package.
File management involves tracking, storing, and moving around your pictures. It also involves a system of prioritizing and sorting your collection. While it is easy to manage manually a photo collection of maybe one hundred pictures, once you reach several hundred pictures or even thousands, photo file management becomes very critical. At the most basic, you should look for the following features that are described below. Whatever package you select, it must have these features.
Required Photo File Management Features
At the least, your management/manager software should have these following features:
- Photo rating system
- File search
- Album creation
- Date organization
- Keyword organization
- Raw file import compatibility
- Metadata viewing
Your software package must have these or else you are getting an inferior piece of software. You should stop considering it and start looking for a more appropriate piece of software. Because these features are required, they are non-negotiable.
This feature is self-explanatory. It allows you to rate your photos. Why should you rate your photos? It allows you to prioritize your photos. Not all of your photos are high priority. There are times when you do not want to share all of your photos or you want to look at all of them frequently because they are important to you. While you do want to store all your photos, not all of them are important. That is why you need a sorting system and a photo rating system. It is very important in helping you sort through your collection.
A name search/ file name search
This is almost a no-brainer; unfortunately many people just use Windows7 built-in search function. This is quite inefficient and it is not geared towards your photo files. You need something that is designed from the ground up to work with and is optimized for photo files. That is why this is a required feature.
When it comes to organizing photos, one of the simplest and powerful ways to do so is through albums. You just designate and label an album and you dump your pictures there. This is like a category system. Albums can be also like category system for books. You can also have sub-albums. If you have, for example, a pet’s album, you could have a sub-album for your dogs and your cats. Then within the dog and cat sub-album, you can create a sub-sub album for your specific dog and cat. The same categorization system can apply to work files, vacation photos, anything you can really think of. Since the album creation and the sorting system is so powerful, it is a non-negotiable feature. Your photo manager software must have these features or else it is worthless.
The organization is needed to sort an album’s content by date. Some people prioritize their photos based on the date it was shot. This is usually a requirement of photographers that generate a lot of pictures. They track photos based on jobs and jobs dated. This is an important key that you need for your collections that span thousands of pictures.
This is a very important sorting and organizing tool because not everyone can sort by date. While some people sort by date, if they have faulty memory, dates would not matter much. However, keywords are easier to remember. Multiple keyword organization is great because a person has different or shifting needs. You could classify a photo under differing tags and by allowing keyword based organization, you can organize a photo that is important for your work. Moreover, whatever collection of interest you have, you can tag your photos accordingly.
Raw file import and compatibility
This feature can’t be stressed enough. If your management software has only jpegs or gifs, this could be a problem because raw files from your digital camera store the original color or the original lighting features of the photo. If you convert it to jpeg or gif, some details could be lost. While jpeg and gif are universally compatible and interchangeable, if you are managing photos for later alteration or you just want your photos in the original state as recorded by your digital camera, then you need a raw file import and compatibility feature built-in into your software. Again, this is non-negotiable because you would need your photos in their raw state so you could edit them later.
It is important for viewing the Meta information that is in your photos. Your storage devices record a lot of information when you create a file. You need to be able to view this information so you could make editorial later with your photos. You can also sort them based on this data.
Optional File Management Features
These features are also important though not as important as the mandatory features listed above. They are great extras that could help, depending on your need. You could opt for or select your photo management software based on their inclusion of these features. These include:
- Backup file creation
- Thumbnail sorting
- Flagging system
- Color labeling
- Category organization
- File stacking
- Face finder
Backup file creation
The file backup system works in a way that when you import a new file, the system automatically creates a backup. This is great when you are deleting files or moving files around. If you make a mistake, it is always great to have a backup file located in your software. It adds peace of mind.
Thumbnail sorting is an important management feature because it lets you use thumbnails to organize your photo collection. You could organize your collection at the thumbnail level. You do not have through the file level to organize. This is great for extra-added convenience.
Flagging system helps when you are processing thousands of files or hundreds of files. A flagging system allows you to give yourself a quick reminder regarding particular files. For example, you are processing two hundred files very quickly. A flagging system allows you to take note of a particular file so you could come back later for sorting, deleting, editing, or any other thing you need to do with the file.
Color label system
Color label system is also important. While the flagging system is great for people that work based on flags, color labeling is even more powerful because different colors imply different editorial considerations. For example, it helps if you are sorting photos based on red eye occurrences, the presence of red eye, presence of underexposure, blurriness, and bad angles. You can set up different color labels based on these editorial considerations. Then when you are quickly reviewing hundreds of pictures, you can then use this color codes to tag your photos. Color label system is a very powerful tool that is conducive to large scale editing and picture sorting projects.
While album creation and sub-album creation are extremely important, not everyone is very familiar with categories. However, everyone is familiar with albums so that is the preferred mode of organizing. Category organization works just like the album system, except you just use a text based category system. Therefore, if you think in terms of categories, you should insist on having this feature.
Photo stacking system
Photo stacking system is a great organizing system if long lists easily overwhelm you. It is a great way to stack related photos together, instead of having to see a screen full of lists of those photos. It has a positive psychological effect, as well, if you are freaked out by a huge amount of files to process. It might slow down your productivity, so this might be a great psychological boost if you are handling heavy-duty picture sorting jobs.
Face finder system
Face finder system allows you to put a face into the system and then your software looks through the pictures and scans for that particular face. It is a very powerful system. However, it is still in a fairly initial stages of development, so only a few photo management software packages contain this. Moreover, since it is in its initial stages of development, it is not as effective as it should be. Nevertheless, it is great if you keep a lot of professional profile photographer, if you take a lot of pictures of faces, or if you work in the human resources department and your managing files of employees pictures. Regardless, keep on mind its limitations. While some software packages do have this feature, it does not necessarily mean that this feature works well enough. It’s a nice bonus to have but given the state of the technology, you shouldn’t rely on it too much.
With the rise of social network sites and free picture sharing site, it is much easier now to share photos online. Another reason you share photos online is so your friends can have access to your photos. It also saves hosting costs. If you run a professional photography studio or you develop websites, storing photos online at free servers or free photo hosting services could save you a ton of resources because you just need to hotlink to your photos.
Photo sharing as a category is optional. That is why the features listed are purely optional features and should be selected based on your particular needs. These photo sharing features are:
- Facebook compatibility
- Online photo sharing
- Email sharing
- CD and DVD burning
- Online gallery creation.
Slideshow is very easy to understand. It compiles your photos into a slideshow file so you could send a file to a friend and they would see your photos organized as a slideshow. Not everybody needs this feature. That’s why it’s optional.
The same goes with Facebook functionality. You just load the photos you select for Facebook sharing and your software automatically connects to your Facebook account and loads it on to Facebook. You would probably need to guide this step-by-step because sometimes Facebook requires image verification, image tagging, and other steps. But it definitely cuts out some labor-intensive steps, like going to Facebook, selecting the photos, logging in, etc. This is a great feature for those tasks.
Online photo sharing site
Not all packages of photo management software do these optional features the same way. You need to pay full attention to the process, as they follow as well. Some features may be too time-intensive or inefficient for you. The same considerations discussed with Facebook apply to Flickr. This time, you just select photos and it is uploaded to your Flickr account. It automates the upload process and the selection process so there is no need to upload one by one. It is very annoying to do that with Flickr and other online photo sharing websites. That is why this feature in some packages of photo management software available in the market today is great.
Email sharing is a fairly straightforward feature. You select a photo and click a button and it is shared via your preset email. However, you need to input the recipients. Some software packages allow for address books. It is a real added bonus because manually entering recipients one by one can be very time intensive and be quite a hassle.
CD/DVD sharing is an optional feature. If you are a professional photographer or you generate a lot of photos, this is a must. Storing your materials in DVD is a powerful way to archive your collection. If your computer crashes or your hard drive is wiped out, you need to have a backup that’s stored in removable media. Removable media allows you to access your files from different machines if you do heavy-duty photo management. Insist on CD/DVD sharing and import functionality.
Online gallery creation
Finally, online gallery feature allows you to automatically create online galleries that are easy to navigate and easy to select photos from. Storing full-size photos online is a hassle because the viewer has no way of knowing which is which photo. Photo gallery system uses hyperlink thumbnail that you click through to pull up the larger photos. It is easy to organize, very user-friendly, quick, and efficient. If you are using your photo software for online collections, you may want to insist on the presence of the online gallery feature in the package of your photo manager software.
Photo Management Ease Of Use
Ease-of-use feature is actually a fairly straightforward consideration. Actually, when you are considering any software, you have to keep in mind the ease-of-use feature. It is an important factor because it dramatically affects how you use the software. You spend time to select the software and you obviously spent money for the software package. Why waste all that time and resources on a software package that has all the feature you are looking for, both in photo management and sharing, but is so complicated and so robust? It is so technically challenging that you give up using it after a few uses. Alternatively, some software packages are just confusing. They are not intimidating to use but there is a learning curve in using the features. You use it more frequently than a complicated package but eventually you will stop using it as well. Regardless of which of these two scenarios apply to you, the bottom line is the same: waste of money because of lack of use or minimum usage of the software package.
Remember: when you are using your software package, your are recouping the amount you paid. The more you use a piece of software, the more the money you are recouping for the money you spend. To help you with the ease-of-use purposes, do the following:
Look for a playable demo. You should download a usable demo at download.com or any software download site. It allows for restricted demo and for looking at the interface. You can appraise its ease of use to see if you are comfortable with it. Not everyone is a tech geek. Each person has different levels of technical proficiency and learning curve. So by getting a demo and playing around with the software, you can see if it matches your learning curve and your technical proficiency level.
Look at the screenshots reviews or demo. Find out if it has easy-to-understand icons. See if the interface is arranged in an intuitive manner. Are the features arranged that are easy to use? Is there a hover feature where an explanation or at least, even a label of the feature is shown? Is there a help icon that you can click and a feature is explained? Are the text labels (third element you can check for) helpful labels? Some software packages increase its ease of use feature when they have hyperlink labels for feature. When you click it, it takes you to a popup section that fully explains the feature. Then there is another link to access the part of the manual that explains that particular feature. Obviously, the more information shared the better.
Keep these considerations in mind because the usability feature of your chosen software package can easily mean between wasting your money and getting a powerful tool that helps you bring comforting convenience to your life.
Photo Management Software: The Conclusion
Consumers’ ability to generate photo content has exploded throughout the years. Managing these massive photo collection]s can easily become a headache and a hassle. Photo management software has been developed specifically to bring comfort and convenience to the task of sorting through pictures. Use our guide’s considerations above to select the photo manager software that best fits your particular needs.