What I Want in Photo Organization

Photo Organization

Currently, I don’t use any photo organization programs. Here is what I want and what I don’t want in photo organization.

  1. Files – Keep photo files in their original location in their original format. I don’t want my photos stored in a proprietary format, nor do I want to burden my hard disk by storing another copy of files that already exist.
  2. Editing – Provide an easy way to review, rotate images that are oriented incorrectly, and delete unwanted photos. Offer an option for automatic image enhancement.
  3. Information – Allow me to add the details about my photos. Store all the information or metadata about a photo in the original file, avoiding extra files that can become lost or separated from the original files.
  4. Location – The program should recognize geographical tags that are present and provide a way to add location to photos without that information. All photos should be searchable by location.
  5. People – Provide an easy way of automatically recognizing and labeling people who are present in photos and for finding photos of specific people.
  6. Organization – Keep track of where my photos are. Maintain records for internal drives on multiple computers, multiple external hard drives, CDs and DVDs, and social networking sites.
  7. Backup – Automatically backup photos from specific directories to specified locations.
  8. Import – Automatically import photos from cell phones or cameras with wireless capabilities.
  9. Export – Export a version of my photo without any associated identifying information or meta data for sharing online.

Are you aware of any products that fit the bill? Have I missed anything? Am I asking for too much?


About Mark Mizen

I have over twenty years professional experience in all aspects of photography and digital imaging. I am Chair of the ISO WG5 TG2 committee responsible for physical properties and durability of imaging material and am currently with HID Global working on systems for security printing for IDs, licenses, and credit cards. Previously, I was Director of Digital Development at Creative Memories from 2009 to 2012 and was responsible for the Creative Memories digital products and services. I also established and directed the Creative Memories Technology Center, which evaluated new products prior to product introduction, assisted with production difficulties, and provided technical information to support product sales.
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35 Responses to What I Want in Photo Organization

  1. Amy white says:

    Totally agree!!!!

  2. nancy Lewis says:

    Sounds all good to me, too. So tell me, doesn’t Memory Manager do all that, or just about all that? I really love MM. And what exactly is metadata?

  3. baltomom says:

    That’s a nice dream list. The other things I would add are batch deletion, identification of duplicate images, and quick/easy resizing of images. I think we need to keep dreaming, since no product I’ve found can do all of this.

  4. scrappylin says:

    Mark, I think Adobe Photoshop fits the bill for the whole of your list. My big bug-bear with many software packages is that they force you to store the image within their files, and in their format, which locks you into their product and makes it harder to share and print.
    All the camera manufacturers seem to do this with their free software that comes with the camera – its a false economy to use it….

    • Julia Tavis says:

      Adobe Photoshop doesn’t organize images at all…If it does, it is a MAJOR feature that I have missed after 15 years of using it! (I would LOVE to be wrong on this!)

      • Larry rood says:

        Adobe Bridge, part of Photoshop (not Photoshop Elements), provides some organizational capability, but Lightroom provides pretty much everything that is “normally” expected as far as organizing is concerned…although not perfect. As others have stated, I would never use MM because you are required to access your photos through their software. Although there is a method to transfer your files from MM to Windows available, I bet that with the approaching end of MM there will be more than one unhappy MM user when they decide to move to something else, unless they stay with Panstoria.

  5. Mark Mizen says:

    Memory Manager creates a separate copy of photo files in a proprietary format. It lacks facial recognition, geographical tagging and search, and an easy way of keeping track of photos in multiple locations.

    • Barrie Perrottino says:

      Love MM but HATE the way it organizes the files on the hard drive… it makes no sense what so ever and makes it nearly impossible to locate the photo if you can’t access the MM program. MM does have facial recognition now.

      • Jenny MacKay says:

        MM/Historian does facial recognition and gives you the geographical location, however what I don’t like about it, is that I can’t access the photo without going into Historian. I’m a family historian and I like to add photos to my family history program. (Yes, I know, I’m locked into their format too), but I can’t tell my program where a particular photo is due to them being all over the place in the items folders, which is a no go zone. But even just to add a photo to a Word doc, you have to export the photo first. I’d like Historian to keep my photos in E.g., MyPictures, then I can link my document to a particular photo.
        I did export them all recently when we didn’t know what the changes were going to be and if you go to your Windows folder, right click on the bar at the top where the date, name etc is listed in detail view, then scroll down and click on comments. If you have notes on the photo in your MM/Historian program, they will now be here. This field can be edited if you right click and go to properties and click on the comments.
        For now, I’ll stick to Historian and just have a double up of some photos for family history purposes.

    • Amy says:

      I don’t understand how MM is proprietary. You can easily use your photos in other programs, email them, share them, etc.

      • Julia Tavis says:

        The way the photos are organized “behind the scenes” REQUIRES that you use MM to access the nice, organized photos. If you were to access the photos through the “back door” (NOT opening MM, but looking at the hierarchy of files on Windows Explorer), you would see a big mess of photos that look VERY random. Their structure REQUIRES that they be viewed through the window of MM, whose programming makes sense of that proprietary format. (I use MM, by the way, to organize my 33,000+ photos…) 🙂

  6. Cimage says:

    Please let us know when you find one! I’d like one, too!

  7. I think Adobe Lightroom will do this with maybe the exception of the automatic import and backup. I’m still watching my videos and learning how to use it to it’s fullest!

  8. Jen says:

    That’s a big list! I’m not sure there’s anything that fits all those parameters, but for me Adobe Lightroom and Windows Photo Gallery come awfully close. I used Windows Photo Gallery almost exclusively until I purchased Lightroom. Now I primarily use Lightroom and Photo Gallery as needed. I find that Lightroom does a way better job of the organization part than Photoshop. It’s better integrated between the organization and editing parts than PS. For the inexperienced, Windows Photo Gallery is super easy to use. I’ve been recommending this over Memory Manager for years, primarily because of the way MM turns your photos into a proprietary file. For those with a little more technical and photographic knowledge and seeking to do more editing as well, Lightroom is a good option too.

  9. Larry rood says:

    Lightroom does everything you ask for with the possible exception of auatomatic backup, something that organizational software is not normally expected to do.

    • Leslie says:

      My Lightroom does automatic backup.

      • Jenny MacKay says:

        I must have a look at Lightroom. For backing up, I use Sync Toy by Windows. At least I have a little control over what I want saved.

      • Jenny, you would really like Lightroom. I’m a CM consultant and have used MM, but Lightroom is a much better program in sooo many ways. Now that I’m taking pictures in RAW with my DSLR (I know Historian can edit RAW files too, but not nearly as well), I’m really using Lightroom and loving it. I also purchased and am working my way through a video course so I can use it to it’s full potential.

        I’m telling my customers that MM and Historian are wonderful for point and shoot cameras, but for people that are serious about photography and using a DSLR camera, Lightroom is the way to go.

      • Jenny MacKay says:

        Thanks Linda. I am a point and shoot photographer, but I still will look at it to see if it will do ‘all’ that Mike suggests, which is my goal too.

  10. scrappylin says:

    Windows photo gallery does a good job of recognition – perhaps too good, it even recognises faces on photos in scrapbook page layouts that I’ve taken photos of!

  11. nancy Lewis says:

    MM does have facial recognition, and as someone else stated, you can share it in multiple ways. As far as finding something without MM, you name the file just as you would using any other program or just dumping photos into a folder on your hard drive. Are you going to find IMG6453 (example of an “original” name/file) any easier whether in photoshop or just downloaded onto the hard drive from your camera? Nope, cause who’s going to remember all those numbers? So just name them, open My Memory Vault and they are all there. And they are automatically backed up. However, Nick Kelsh has highly recommended Lightroom. MM may not be everything the top professional wants, but then MM was created to be for the average person. They took many Photoshop features and simplified them–same results, fewer steps, and made it affordable because so much of what photoshop does, the majority of people will never use. I am anxious to see what Lightroom is like.

  12. Shelley says:

    Dr Mark, apart from leaving your photos in their original locations, Memory Manager/Historian does all of that. And if you currently don’t use any photo organising, then a slightly less than perfect solution must be better than none, surely. And I import my photos from my camera directly into Historian, so that is the original location.

  13. I think all of your wish list items are desirable, especially #1 (keeping files in original location and not putting them into a proprietary structure), #3 (keeping all information in the same file as the photo), and #6 (being able to keep track of where ALL of your photos are, not just the ones currently on the drive for the system the software is installed on). When I had a previous version of Memory Manager, it did NOT do #1, #3, or#6. I paid a steep price in terms of lost info, lost photos, and major inconvenience when I decided to stop using Memory Manager and start using Adobe products (Bridge, then LightRoom).

  14. I use Aperture and it does it all except automatic upload from cell phone. I have to tell it to go get them. But other than that it fits the bill.

  15. Cheryl says:

    Reblogged this on Scrapping Precious Memories! and commented:
    Want to know what is important when organizing your photos? This is the blog to follow,

  16. Kimberly says:

    Another vote for Lightroom!! I’d add to that … Dropbox app to have your photo’s automatically uploaded to your computer. In your weekly, monthly workflow, slide them out of dropbox folder onto desktop. Or you could have lightroom move them for you when you import them. I was a huge Memory Manager fan. This is better. Way better, in my opinion.

    The only downside, is that there is learning to be done to master the program. Huge plus for the simplicity of MM. However, get the Scott Kelby book from the library or bookstore. Lightroom is amazing. I’m sure it’s comparable with Aperature. However, my point goes Lightroom because it’s cross platform. I might have a Mac now, but in the future that might change.

  17. Leslie says:

    You have described Lightroom. ACDSee will work, too; but I prefer Lightroom.

  18. Tricia says:

    Does anybody have experience and know-how getting Memory Manager pictures, by vault or folder, into a program like Lightroom? I so, I’d love to hear how you did it and any tips I should know.

  19. nancy Lewis says:

    Tricia, have you asked them at Panstoria?

  20. Leslie S says:

    I don’t know if anyone is following this strand of MM/Historian comparison to Lightroom (and others), but I just found it and want to say thank you for all the helpful thoughts! I have used MM/Historian for years for both organizing and editing my photos and have absolutely loved it, but I think I’m ready for a step up in terms of editing capability and I appreciate all the positive feedback on here about switching to Lightroom. I don’t know if I can or will abandon MM/Historian entirely, because I have 30,000 pix currently organized there, but I do like the idea of putting some of my more advanced photos into LR for editing purposes. Is there anyone out there who has completely moved over to LR from Historian? Is there anyone who uses both consistently?

    • Terryl says:

      Leslie, I am in about the same place you are. I have had good success with MM/Historian, and it didn’t have a steep learning curve … Which I am afraid Lightroom will. And will I want to take the time to transfer and learn, especially at a $145 price tag?

      • Lisamarie says:

        Leslie and Terryl did you find out how to move all your photos with their date from MM/Historian to Lightroom? I’d also appreciate knowing.

  21. Stacy says:

    I moved all my pictures from Historian to Lightroom by date and now I’m wondering if I should have moved them with their categories instead. What is the easiest/best way to export out of Historian and get the best result in Lightroom without having to reorganize all the folders? Any suggestions would be welcome. ( We just got Lightroom for Christmas and I have been watching you tube videos for help.)

  22. Leslie S says:

    I am still doing both – using Historian for all my organization of my photos; however when I come across a great photo that I really want to edit well, I take the RAW version and use Lightroom to edit it nicely. I do have a simple collection or two of Landscapes and Portraits that I’m keeping organized in LR; however, my “go-to” for organizing is still Historian. Maybe it’s because it is too daunting to think of moving 33,000 photos over to LR! And, I don’t need to edit that many, of course.

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