The Missing Photo App

Yours Truly, May 31st, 2010:

We, imag­ing professionals/shutterbugs, are in dire need of a magic bul­let that can sim­plify our imag­ing work­flow, and that you-know-what by the you-know-who device has been proven to be the magic pis­tol by its grow­ing num­bers of accep­tance, as well as its lim­ited num­ber of sup­plies, and yet, the magic bul­let app — you know the one that does: photo review, approval/rejection, rat­ing, anno­ta­tion, gen­er­ates con­tact sheet, send PDF to recip­i­ents (sim­ple review web­site export don’t hurt), sync catalog/selection to the (we des­per­ately hope) soon-to-be-announced app & its desk­top client… most impor­tantly one that is sim­ple and doesn’t suck and doesn’t crash in front of jaw-dropped-by-our-magic-bullet-app clients — is nowhere to be found.

Apple is expected to launch a retina display-equipped iPad 3 this week, and John Gruber toyed with the idea that Apple would be demoing said photography app at the launch event. The question is what kind of app would they launch.

Neven Mrgan made an intriguing analysis on the heart of the matter and argued that the larger consumer/prosumer would be a more profitable endeavor for this purpose, thus suggesting that an iPhoto would be a better product to serve such purpose.

As hard as it is to argue, it’s even more difficult to accept the fact that professional photography is a high-resources, low-margin endeavor, one that is difficult to do and requires a high degree of patience and persistence that only exists on the minority side of our market. Companies like Apple knows this fact. That’s why iPhoto gets the spotlight but not Aperture, the same way iMovie overshadowed Final Cut Pro (or X).

But such simplification could also signal a new paradigm in the professional photo-editing space: why do we need Aperture if an iPhoto can do the job? Why not make things simpler? A tablet device has its own constrain that could make or break a process, and bringing desktop-driven workflow to touch would be madness without simplifying them. But such simplification does not mean limiting what an app can do. I found using GarageBand for iPad to be more intuitive and fluid than using GarageBand on my mac, and this experience can easily be replicated for iPhoto on the iPad too.

What iPhoto lacks that Aperture has is its advanced adjustment tools. Think Snapseed and its touch-pinch-slide editing metaphor, coupled with the simplicity of iOS’ built-in photo browser. GarageBand-like instrument choices for adjustment presets, and of course, easy adjustment tools from iPhoto, combined with some of Aperture’s pro-level imaging engine & photo book authoring tools.

Simply, it would be great to have something fun and intuitive like what Apple did to music with GarageBand on iPad. Aperture-like adjustments on an iPhoto-like functionality on the iPad would be a dream come true for most of us.