Since I started centralizing my media onto my home server, I have also been in search of a better way to manage the photos stored there. Not just store them, because I have the photos somewhat organized into folders, but this doesn’t allow me to organize them in multiple ways–some photos obviously could be categorized into multiple folders depending on their subject and context– maybe it’s a family photo of a vacation trip. I don’t want to duplicate the photos into multiple folders. I want to be able to search on the subject and metadata. It would be nice to (roughly) geotag the photos (even the ones taken before GPS).
I want to do this without having all of the photos on any single local computer(s), but be able to browse them from any computer on the local network (not necessarily the Cloud). I’ve looked at a lot of possible solutions, but prior to deciding whether to use any (one) of them, I’ll need to decide whether I want to continue to store the data on my own computers, or in the cloud (or both). Going with one of the cloud options means that I would have access to my photos, but would also be dependent on that provider remaining in business. I’ve already invested in a NAS, so I’m going to stick with storing my own library and sharing selected bits thru a service like Yahoo’s Flickr.
I use Flickr for (hopefully) my better photos. But not for my complete library. And, there are certainly other Cloud solutions, but Flickr is the one I chose a long time ago and it’s difficult to move (meaning I’d have to find) all of those photos to another site, even if I wanted to.
First, I needed to define my needs/desires:
- All photos are on the NAS (Synology)
- I want a database driven tool for faster searching.
- Editing tools need not be part of the application, as I have plenty of other tools for this.
- I need a file management/cataloging tool, capable of handling multiple users (though there will likely only be one or two at any given time).
- It needs to be able to handle jpegs, RAW files (of different cameras), but I’m not concerned with bitmaps or vector images.
- Multiple device access across the local network.
- Remote access using the same browser interface would be nice
- Only one user at a time should be able to edit the files
- Tagging; Search by tag, metadata
- Preferably cheap or free
- It runs on Mac OSX, but maybe Windows or Linux too, in the event I switch platforms again.
One necessity will be the painful process of going through decades of photos and trying to decide whether to weed out bad photos (and I’m sure there are a lot of them). But then there’s the “not bad, but unremarkable photos” too. No one is going to do this if I don’t. My family certainly wouldn’t be willing to do this. As long as hard disk space was cheap (and getting cheaper), there was little incentive to be selective. Now I’ll pay the price for keeping nearly everything I shot. And over the years, what was an acceptable photo (because it was as good as digital was at the time), in some cases is now a marginal one as the quality of camera has improved. I started out in 1998 with a sub 1 megapixel camera and my latest addition is a 24 megapixel camera.
Plex does a a great job at allowing me to organize my music and TV shows and movies, but photos are something that can be organized a lot of ways using the same photo, and Plex doesn’t allow me to do more than basic sorting by albums. Synology has apps that let me browse my photos, but again, not the way I’d like to be able to organize them (not only by who they were, but maybe who and where, when, etc.).
In searching about for solutions, I can see I’m certainly not alone in looking for such a solution as an individual.
- Here’s a recent WSJ article with a good summary of some of the options, but not quite like I think I’m looking for, relative to providing network access to browse the complete library. http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-best-way-to-organize-a-lifetime-of-photos-1429637857?mod=djemptech_t
I plan to evaluate:
- Picasa (though Picasa is not made to be a multiuser system).
- Picasa Starter (for network drive access)
- Perfect Browse
- Apple’s new Photo app
since Synology has packages for both I can install and run from my existing server. I likely have a lot to learn if I go this route.
There may be others, but for now, this is my ‘long list’.
A work in progres….