Picture Perfect – iPhoto flaw

I wrote previously about installing iLife ’08 on my Mac and have now had a chance to play around with iPhoto ’08. I even went as far as importing all my family photos into iPhoto. However I setup iPhoto to not bring the photos into the iPhoto library, for a very good reason. I first experimented having iPhoto bring in the photos but the file size of the iPhoto library grew to 18 Gb because there is a single file that contains all of your photos and other data that iPhoto needs. This is different than older versions of iPhoto.

While this may have some inherent advantages, there is a big disadvantage. It means that if you add a single new photo that big huge file gets changed. So what happens when you do a backup of your data, as I do daily to an external hard drive? The entire 18 Gb file gets copied, instead of just the new single 5 mb photo. After realizing this, I started over and set in the perferences to not copy the photos to the iPhoto library. I just keep the photos in my own structure as follows:

2000-2009, with sub folders 2001, 2002, etc. So I group all photos by year.

iPhoto doesn’t really care where the files are stored or in what structure, it imposes it’s own framework. I find this to be the best of both worlds since I can use the Finder to get to a photo if I want, or use iPhoto. I still get all the benefits of iPhoto, including the Events structure.

So when I first open iPhoto it looks like this (click to enlarge):

iPhoto 08 Events

When I first imported the photos, I brought in all photos by year, and that created a seriest of events labeled 2007, 2006, 2005, etc. I opened each year to see all the photos for that year. I then used the neat Split feature in iPhoto 08 to split the photos into events. You can see how this works in the image below for 2005, where I have yet to split into events. I select the photo where the event needs to split then click the Split button in the lower left. It divides the 2005 photos into two events, thos above into one event, and all the rest into another. I enter the label for the event of the photos above that I had just split off of the rest and then I then work my way down and create additional events.

Splitting photos in iPhoto to seperate events

As I use iPhoto going forward, it will create new events for new photos I bring in, making all photos taken the same day under one event (you can change this setting).

You can also use iPhoto 08 to edit your photos, including adjusting the curves as shown below. I find I can do most of the editing I need right inside iPhoto and only need Photoshop for the more tricky stuff.

Edit Photo in iPhoto

So in summary, I like iPhoto ’08, as long as I don’t have it import the files into it’s own library.