iPhoto – Simple, Extremely Easy and Now Customizable

Posted Feb. 17th, 2013 by Daniel J. Cox

One of the questions I’m often asked is what program I recommend for working with photos. I often respond with a few questions of my own to better understand the person’s comfort level and capabilities with computers. If they are new to digital photography, but computer literate, I often suggest either Lightroom or Aperture. If they are computer phobic, I’ve had fewer options until now. Just this morning I found that Apple’s iPhoto, the easiest, yet still very powerful program for photography, has added the option to “Reference” your photos. What do I mean by “Reference” photos? It’s a bit complex for those new to the concept but I’ll do my best to explain. In short, it’s a way to store your photos outside of the iPhoto Library which is an advantage for many reasons. The most notable benefit is you won’t overrun your computer’s hard drive if your images are “Referenced”. If you are serious about your photography or getting serious, this is the way you want to go.

Think of a referenced iPhoto library as the way you use a book library. The books (your photos) sit as referenced originals on a shelf (your external hard drive). The iPhoto library keeps a small version/mini jpeg on your computer. When you open your iPhoto library it shows the small jpeg but knows if  you need to change anything, it reaches out to the referenced original on the external hard drive.

My new IPhoto Library with photos from our recent Patagonia trip.

My new iPhoto Library with photos from our recent Patagonia trip.

Derrick Story, who contributes to  Macworld’s Digital Photo Blog, does a great job explaining how to set it all up. Yes, I realize it requires using the Apple operating system, but quite frankly, when it comes to digital content, there is no better system currently being offered. Digital Asset Management, (DAM) as it’s known, is a tremendous advantage for keeping track of your precious images. One of the warmest feelings I know is to type the word Family in to my Aperture library and watch family members populate my screen by the thousands. It’s a great trip down memory lane and it can happen in fractions of a second if you just spend a little time getting it all organized. Take a look at Apple’s iPhoto if you want the simplest DAM program on the market. It’s well worth the effort.

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There are 6 comments on this post…
  1. David ZadigOn Mar. 3rd, 2013

    Is it possible to have images in both LR and iPhoto? Currently run everything out of LR but would like the option to use iPhoto for things like slideshows without having to export developed images as JPG versions from LR to a separate folder and import those into iPhoto.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Mar. 3rd, 2013

      Yes David, totally possible to have the same images in both Lightroom and IPhoto. The key it to make sure you follow the procedures to keep your images outside of IPhoto as explained in the article. Ideally I would place them on an external hard drive. Then all you have to do is follow the article as I said and set your Lightroom catalog to Reference your images from where they are located. I really need to write this up and will do so hopefully soon. Check back for additional details.

  2. John DalyOn Feb. 19th, 2013

    I have not seen a way in iPhoto to Key Word photos. So, if I use your example, if I want “family” in LR4 I just type “family” and they all turn up. As far as I know you cannot do this in iPhoto.
    I use two external hard drives for LR and a third one for my MacBookAir for traveling. Now are you suggesting another one for iPhoto?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Feb. 19th, 2013

      John, Lightroom is a great program as well and your ability to keyword your photos is important. i commend you for taking the time and the interest to do so. iPhoto has the same ability to use keywords. All you do is highlight the images, then go to the lower right corner of the screen and click on the I/Info button. Up pops a panel/window on the right side of your screen with an option to add keywords. There is also an option under the Window tab to Mange My Keywords. Thanks for adding your voice.

  3. Portrait of David and Shiela Glatz

    Dave GlatzOn Feb. 18th, 2013

    Dan thanks for the post on iPhoto – hadn’t used it until last night. The slideshow options blow LR4 out of the water. LR only allows you to use one song as a soundtrack. That’s great if you have a song that’s about 10 minutes long! Played around with iPhoto for about 5 minutes and figured out how to set up a slideshow with some impressive effects and a soundtrack of two or three songs. Intuitive and easy to use.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Feb. 18th, 2013

      Great to hear you gave it a try. All of Apple’s programs are have amazing presentation options. If you like what iPhoto does for a slide show you should see Aperture and for the super charged option I use Final Cut Pro X. I’m working on an update to the iPhoto post that discusses how to easily import your images from the card. All Apple computers come with a little known program called Image Capture that will automatically move images from the photo card to whatever spot on the computer or external hard drive you want them to reside. This will be a helpful addition for those wanting to use iPhoto. It’s one extra step but can be easily automated and then iPhoto becomes very effective as a photo tool since you can then keep it from filling up your computers hard drive. I’ve always really like iPhoto but the inability to keep the images off your main computer hard drive was a deal breaker. Thanks for your input.

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