why online photo MANAGEMENT still sucks

I take photos. Pretty frequently and not obsessively, but I generate a lot of photo data. I’ve also invested time and money into digitizing my old family photos and negatives. It’s thousands of individual files and organized into hundreds of folders.

In parallel to this growing archive of imagery I’ve been moving slowly and steadily away from storing all this information locally. A large Google drive has become my backup in the cloud for all kinds of files including every one of my photos. I’ve been using Picasa (on the Mac) for local photo management and the idea was that syncing that library to my Google storage would make it easily browsable on all my online devices where I could grab any photo I wanted to display, edit, and share.

Nope.

There are lots of ways to share a single picture, or even a collection of them. Flickr, 500px, Facebook, Google, Apple’s Photo Stream. All of them work great if you have decided which pictures you want to share and just want to publish those out to the world. When you’re dealing with an online collection like this one it just all falls apart.

Try this experiment yourself. Upload a lot of folders to Picasa/Google+ photos. Make sure it’s more than enough to fill multiple screens so that you have to scroll down in the browser. Make a change to the last folder in the group and boom! You’re pushed back to the top of the list with the most recent folders.

That logic is only good if you assume that I’m taking lots of photos and really only want to work on the ones from the last week or month. The right UX experience would be to leave me exactly where I was, seeing the photos or folders that I was looking at before I took an action. Don’t just kick me out to the top of the list!

Now try to load those hundreds of albums on a tablet. Sometimes they load, sometimes not. Sort by time works ok, but what about by name or upload date? There are some great apps out there for editing photos on tablets and phones. There are even some good apps for viewing your online and local albums but are there really no good apps for large scale photo management online?

I’m now off on a quest. I’m going to try both SmugMug and the new Photobucket to see if they have what it takes. Right now I’m less and less interested in Picasa, and I worry about being locked into iOS/Mac if I try to use iCloud/iPhoto.

Anyone have a better suggestion?

6 comments

  1. Max

    Hi Steve, have you reached a decision on SmugMug vs other solutions? I am on the same boat. I have most of my stuff on Flickr, but it has not changed in a while and would love to have an easier way to upload/manage pix online (although on my mac I am testing Lightroom).

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    • Steve Banfield

      Not yet. Found working with Picasa on an iPad much easier with the Web Albums app, better even than Picasa on Android. I want to try the new Flickr app that just came out. Have you tried it out yet?

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      • Steve Banfield

        There’s also a new service called Everpix that I’m trying. It claims to sync all your photos across iOS, Facebook. Picasa, etc. That seems to work ok but you can sort by “Moments” which is just a timeline or “Highlights”. No real editing, manipulating, deleting, duplicate removal, etc.

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      • Max

        Everpix seems interesting. I don’t care much about editing/etc… but the fact that it transparently uploads all images and potentially de-dups them is awesome. It also has support for Lightroom.

        I have not tried the new flickr app, but it seems it is mostly around the pix taking side of things which is not really a problem for me.

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  2. Pingback: the great tablet experiment « @stevebanfield

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