How do you edit your personal photos?

This isn’t a cool workflow of mine, but I’m trying to figure one out as I find how I edit my photos is very basic. I have over 10,000 photos from the past decade and I simply use Edit > Crop / Rotate > Auto Enhance > maybe Brighten / Darken and that’s it. Then I share them to family or add them to a local album (e.g. car photos). That’s it.

I do have Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer installed, but exporting and re-importing photos seems a lot of work. But more so, when I learned to use some of Affinity’s advanced features, it was fine for say editing a funny pic to send to friends, or editing out blemishes etc. but for real world, real memories and sentimentally valuable photos… how do you actually use it / make edits that make sense? You know… I’m no expert but would like to know from you guys what I could be doing when editing to make my photos better quality.

What you’re doing is generally all that’s needed with modern cameras and phones. Increasing vibrancy is the other one I like.
I have about 300 really favourite photos out of my 5000 photo library (I delete aggressively).

From that subset, I’d guess I have done further editing on about 80 of them only. I’d use Pixelmator or similar to adjust the black and shadows, shift colours (eg to make the sea more blue or green), remove distracting twigs or people, sharpen eyes, soften/darken backgrounds.
But again, I only bother on the best of my best photos.

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I generally do the same as you have specified. When a photo cannot be improved in Photos (no matter what I try it looks bad), I use Pixelmator Pro. I find it has much more advanced tools for improving images and can rescue photos taken in poor conditions. I also use the Affinity applications, but for preparing and creating images for websites rather than touching up photos.

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I import all images - phone or camera - to my Mac, and the images stay there. I put cameraphone pics into Photos, and camera images get copied off the SD card and managed and corrected in Lightroom/Photshop.

If I want to edit/share images on iOS I’ll use one of several iOS apps for that, but the serious editing and storage remains on the Mac.

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I import from a card or from Photos.app (iPhone synched pictures). Take photos without a gps data into HoudahGeo and geotag, or sometimes correct wrong geotag info. Import into a DAM. Reject obvious failures, then rate each photo. I often need to straighten horizons before I can look at a picture, or sometimes I need to crop before I can decide if I’ll keep it or reject it.

Later passes include selecting photos for more work. First keywording pass is person / thing / type, second is place. Finally keepers get the pithiest of captions or version names, usually as part of a series.

Hoping to migrate to using a program called Photo Mechanic to do the culling and hopefully easier keyword tagging, but so far I don’t have that workflow down yet.

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Rob, do you use them in iOS?

Yes, I use all the apps I mentioned in iOS and MacOS. I prefer using Affinity Designer in particular in iOS because the pencil makes creating new shapes easier, and I love the fact these apps are all equally powerful no matter which platform I’m on.

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And, to make it even better, they’re a steal on the Mac at £50 each… an absolute theft-and-a-half on iOS at £20 each!!! I’m so glad Serif can operate on this as I’m anti-subscription (unless there’s the need for a server to be running for the app)

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I am quite concerned about the size of my photo library. Each year I’m adding more than the last. It’s hard to delete for me, though I try to keep it neat. Especially with Live Photos now a photo takes up so much more space! Is there any way to delete the live aspect on photos I want to keep but which do not benefit from live photos whatsoever?

I’m sure my system is overkill for your needs but I use LightRoom Classic on my desktop iMac. I hardly ever edit any photos anyway and the nondestructive editing in LightRoom is perfect so I don’t mess with my originals. I never leave photos on my phone or camera card and I don’t use Apple photos. I do use PhotoSync as a transport mechanism from devices to my Mac.

Why are you concerned? And what do you consider large? I know folks with LightRoom catalogs that are in the +500K photos range. I am typically taking around 3k photos a year just with my phone. Storage of photos is outside of LR and I do that on our server but also backed up nightly and soon to be archived on Amazon Glacier. I don’t really care how many I have. My LR Catalog is also the repository fo the metadata on all the historical family photos I am digitizing.

Yes, LR is a subscription. But it’s one I pay for gladly due to the power of the program.

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Make a copy of the photo, you’ll get the option to copy it to a non-live photo.

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I use Lightroom intentionally to keep photos out of the Apple library and camera roll (which I treat as transient, temporary work areas).

Photos are too important for me to trust to only Apple (Lighroom/Adobe tools are cross-platform both on computers (Mac and Windows) and mobile (iOS and Android).

I also enjoy that if nuke my iOS or Mac devices, I don’t “white knuckle” worry about my photos or suffer long extended re-sync from the iCloud times.

For editing, I never crop any photos. A bit controversial, but as a former part time photographer I bought into the “crop with your eye/mind/feet” when you take the picture, not later. Helped me take better pictures by not kicking the composition can “down the road” to post-processing time.

I have also switched to shooting almost everything in raw instead of jpeg. Also a bit controversial, but actually makes using a DSLR or mirrorless camera a lot easier as many of the settings people sweat over don’t apply to raw mode and big errors in exposure or color balance can be fixed later where jpegs are “baked in” when you take the photo and have much more limited corrective range.

On iOS, I use Lightroom as my camera app most of the time - it shoots raw and I use it “point and shoot” mode or I will use specialized photo apps that have raw mode and manual controls, but I don’t use them too often.

Why raw? Well it is the digital equivalent of saving the negatives rather than just the inkjet printouts. With so much advancement in what is called “algorithmic photography” I want to be able to apply future improvements to past photos.

In the next 3 to 5 years the “auto” button in photo editors will be orders of magnitude smarter than today. With raw files my existing photos will get the same benefit as new photos taken in the future. (The assumption is that sensors and especially lenses will not advance as quickly so the raw image captures of today will still be relevant)

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Well initially I felt that I’m wasting space to be honest, and maybe it’ll get ‘too big to manage’. But at the same time, deleting memories is silly. And today’s 2TB Apple Plan for £7 a month will probably be 10TB in ten years time, with the significance of what’s ‘big per photo’ today not being so in the future.

Now that I’ve brought it up and you’ve mentioned that, I think I was just being silly!

Subscriptions are definitely worth it when you value it so much! I’m lucky that I haven’t encountered this yet for my needs, which sound much more simplistic

For me, library size is not an issue of how much space it will take on disk, but more that having too many photos dilutes the best ones.

I like to keep at least one photo of each person at each event, but I might delete others. Having said that, I might sometimes simply hide photos or put them away somewhere rather than deleting them just in case if it’s a very special occasion.

But the photo library that I keep on my phone and all my devices has only the photos I want to look at in it. In theory!

As for deleting memories being silly, how many photos of Uncle Bob do you need to remember how much he enjoyed birthday parties? One or two choice images per party is more than enough for me, but everyone is different and this is very personal territory really.

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More advanced library management apps (“DAM” or digital asset management) have a range of features to rate and tag photos for sorting and filtering.

The idea is you can quick sort and categorize photos and then use those tags or attributes to only see the photos you want without actually having to delete them.

Sort of like Omnifocus custom perspectives.

Of course, you can actually delete photos, but when you are rapidly reviewing hundreds or more of photos, it’s nice to not worry about accidentally deleting something important.

With the DAM tag/rating/filtering, you can use downtime or non-critical times to occasionally review your photos and delete the obvious bad ones if you are are worried about space usage. Sort of like the “weekly review” in Omnifocus.

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Disclaimer: I am not throwing shade here, just presenting a different opinion.

This sounds good but tagging takes time, and tagging well takes significant time, which is the reason I’ve never gotten into tagging anything. I just can’t justify the time required.

Agreed - it’s simply an option. You can use any DAM application (Lightroom, Apple Photos, Google Photos) and just delete images you don’t want as you go and still benefit from all the organizational aspects.

Tagging is just an added tool for anyone that prefers sorting and filtering to hard and fast deleting.

Oh, just to be clear, tagging can be as simple as flagging “good / bad” which is very fast with keyboard shortcuts. Doesn’t mean you have to have an elaborate scoring system or multi-word tags to identify every picture. Can be as simple or as sophisticated as you want.

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Oogie,
How do you tell ahead of time if an app is non-destructive? I do not like to mess are with my originals either. I usually just make duplicates, if I don’t know.

Thanks so much! I just learned a lot!

As far as I know the ONLY app that does non-destructive editing of photos is LightRoom. I know that Photoshop, GIMP and Photos all make permanent changes to your pictures when you edit them.