Mobile image management

As we all know, capturing the image is only the beginning of a photographer's job. And with storage card capacities now measured in gigabytes, it's not uncommon to come back from even a casual day of shooting with hundreds of images. And the sooner you can whittle down this pile by separating the keepers from the rejects while adding relevant keywords and other searchable metadata, the easier it is to manage your image collection.

The iPad, with its touch interface, high resolution Retina display and wireless connectivity is a great, if under-appreciated tool for ranking, sorting and sharing images after the shoot, whether back in the hotel or killing time in the airport terminal.

What you'll need:

  • Photosmith app $19.99 and Lightroom plugin (free)
  • Adobe Photoshop Lightroom $149 (full)/$79 (upgrade)
  • Wi-Fi Internet access for syncing
  • Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit (optional) $29
Photosmith offers the ability to rate, keyword and apply IPTC metadata to images that can then be synced to your existing Lightroom catalog. 

The stumbling block for most photographers is that they don't permanantly house their images on the iPad. Whether shooting on vacation or a commercial assignment, those images are going to end up, not in iPhoto for iOS, but in a professional workflow application. So the ability to sync images between your desktop software and the iPad is crucial.

Photosmith + Lightroom

And if you use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, there's an app that lets you do just that. Photosmith is comprised of an app and free Lightroom plugin that allows you to sync images and metadata between your Lightroom catalog and your iPad. Using Lightroom's Publish Services feature you can designate subsets of your image catalog to transfer directly to the Photosmith app on your iPad.

Photosmith's Lightroom plugin allows you to publish image collections from your Lightroom catalog...
 ...that are then synced with a matching collection on your iPad.

Once the images have been added to the app, you can view them at full resolution (iOS 6 supports files as large as 36MP), then rank and sort them using Lightroom-equivalent flag, star and label ratings. You can title and caption images as well as add IPTC metadata like contact and ownership information. Photosmith automatically imports your existing keyword heirarchy from Lightroom, making it easy to accurately apply previously used keywords to new images. Once you and your iPad are back in front of your desktop computer you can sync all of the metadata over Wi-Fi with your Lightroom catalog.

Image transfers can go in the opposite direction as well. You can import images directly from your card reader to Photosmith using the Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit. Photosmith has raw file support for most major camera manufacturers. You can view their supported camera list here.  Even if your model is not directly supported, though, if you shoot in Raw+JPEG mode Photosmith will generate its  full resolution image previews from the accompanying JPEG file. With the original images on your iPad you can use Photosmith to share copies of them via email, Facebook or Flickr at reduced sizes or send original resolution duplicates to a Dropbox account for backup.