I spent quite a lot of time ahead of the Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales this past month thinking about upgrading my current image editing software to newer versions, specifically Photoshop Elements, which is my go-to workhorse. The more I thought about it, I came to realize that the majority of my time is spent in PSE’s Organizer rather than the Editor itself.
After downloading the images from my camera, I tag them with location, people, event and anything else relevant in the Organizer. The images themselves are downloaded to folders by date in Window’s Pictures folder on my PC, which appears to be the default behavior for most programs, but the tags I add reside in PSE’s database. I can tell you from previous experience upgrading from PSE 11 to PSE 2018, which coincided with moving to a newer computer, it took me a couple of weeks to undo whatever “logic” PSE employed in porting the database and images to sub-sub-sub folders which made backing up a challenge. So, upgrading to a newer version was not something I considered lightly, especially since Adobe support for PSE is, well, nearly non-existent as it’s not one of their flagship programs, you understand.
In the end, Adobe nixed the choice for me by including their Sensei AI in PSE 2021 which pushed the hardware requirements so high that I’ll only have them on a yet-to-be-purchased computer. That won’t happen for a few years yet and by that time, the PSE requirements will likely have doubled and I’ll still be using 2018.
After asking a number of people both online and offline about their photography workflow, I received a lot of suggestions for editing programs, but much less for organizing images. Nearly everyone who did reply (and thank you for taking the time to do so) mentioned they create multiple folders with duplicate images on their computer in lieu of tagging, which seems to me like an eventual storage nightmare if you have thousands (and thousands) of images. Again, mine is an older computer (2 years old!) that has 500 GB of storage. Yes, I know that external storage is a possibility, but at this time I am collecting external drives like I used to collect CDs/DVDs. Doesn’t everyone back up their backups?
Win10 users have the built-in Photo app, but oddly, I don’t see any way to tag photos within that app. It is possible to tag photos individually and in groups via the Properties>Details tab in each folder on one’s hard drive (not in the app). That then allows you to search for that tag in Windows. I’ll need to explore further because I feel I might be missing something.
However, regardless of how I download images and in whichever program, there’s no correlation between the hundreds of tags I’ve added in PSE over the years. That would mean starting from scratch. *thud!* Fortunately, you can set up PSE2018’s Organizer to connect an external image editing program.
In spite of everything, I didn’t want to let the BF/CM sales go by entirely, although I have a number of image editing programs on my new-ish computer, including PSE2018 (often used), PSP2018 (rarely used), and Aftershot 3 (occasionally used). After looking at suggested apps: Topaz Labs, Luminar, Capture One, Darktable, and Affinity Photo among others, I went with Affinity Photo simply because I use their other software and am used to their UI and Personas. There’s a ton of online help, video tutorials and responsive forums. And, thankfully, I didn’t need to break the bank. Now I need to push it to see how well it will compress an image and retain image quality. That will be a future post.
I suspect there might be just one or two photographers reading this post and while I’ve made my choice for this year, I’d still love to know how you handle your images from camera to workspace and things you like or don’t like about your chosen method.