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Photo Organizer Software
Michael Myers, Photographer
Miami | Florida | USA | Posted: 8:08 AM on 11.03.16
->> I do volunteer work at Aravind Eye Hospital in India. They have a gazzilion photos since the 1980's, some scanned, most from digital cameras.

They would like to put them into some kind of organized system, so people can search them by various search criteria - name, location, year, subject, etc.

Anyone know of good commercial software that can do this?

(They are going to have a huge amount of work filling in the details on the photos, but that can happen over time.)

......and is there any way to make something like Adobe Lightroom work, as it has facial recognition software? I think it would be overwhelmed by so many photos. Many, many thousands of them.
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Stanley Leary, Photographer, Photo Editor
Roswell | GA | | Posted: 8:33 AM on 11.03.16
->> PhotoShelter. Cumulus if just on a computer, but I highly recommend an online system for organizations.

This makes them more usable by more people.
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Michael Myers, Photographer
Miami | Florida | USA | Posted: 11:30 AM on 11.03.16
->> On-line is great in the USA, but terrible in India. Sometimes I think carrier pigeons carrying data would be faster....

I'll check out PhotoShelter, but I think that's a service? What they want is a program that will run on their server.

I looked into Photo Mechanic, but from what I saw, Adobe Lightroom would do the same thing, more easily. Lightroom would be much easier to teach people, and I believe very useful to them, but I suspect it would need to be on one computer, with others accessing it with a "Remote Desktop".

They have five or six people in the DTP (Desk Top Publishing) office accessing files via a network. I assume only one person at a time could use Lightroom, if it was on that server/computer.
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Stanley Leary, Photographer, Photo Editor
Roswell | GA | | Posted: 1:42 PM on 11.03.16
->> PhotoMechanic and Lightroom are editing software and not database software.

Cumulus will work on their server, but really expensive.
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Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 7:16 PM on 11.03.16
->> Photo Mechanic's strength is pre-organization in terms of doing mass captioning -- especially upon ingestion from the memory card to the computer. And while it is very strong in editing photos in terms of selecting and prioritizing, its weakness is image editing. It can do cropping and that's pretty much it -- no burning/dodging, color correction, etc. PM is strong in transmitting via FTP. It is more of a file handler than an image editor like Photoshop. PM can also do caption search and replace. For example, if you misspell a name, you can select all those images and do a batch correction.

Lightroom is an all-in-one type product. While it can do batch captioning during ingest, PM is more robust in my opinion. LR can do image editing (color correction, toning, dodging, etc.) and output to not only transmitting but to a printer too. One thing that LR does do that PM doesn't is that it can catalog images into collections which are searchable. For example, if you need images from a certain town or of a particular person, it will find them.

Another cataloging software that is of major duty is called MerlinOne and is used by corporations, universities and government. It will work in-house on a computer or cloud. Here's its website.

There is another option/program that is in the works by Camerabits -- the maker of Photo Mechanic -- called Catalog. It's to be a plug-in for PM. However, the product was announced some five years ago and is still under development with no ETA on its release.

Based on ease and needs, you may want to use Photo Mechanic for ingesting and captioning, and Lightroom for image editing and cataloging. Or just LR to do it all.

The thing with LR though is that it acts like iTunes. It needs to control everything -- where images are stored, where they are copied to, etc. Break the directory link and LR can't find the pictures, you've lost your editing changes, etc. In contrast, PM doesn't care.
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Jack Kurtz, Photographer
Bangkok | Bangkok | Thailand | Posted: 7:41 PM on 11.03.16
->> Either Lightroom or CaptureOne will do what you're looking for. LR has a more robust database tool but then you have to deal with Adobe's atrocious customer support. CaptureOne is more expensive.

You can set up your library however you like with LR. Want to use folders, like you would in the Finder? You can do that. Want to let LR determine how you archive? You can do that to.

There is another choice, Media Pro, from the same company that makes Capture1. It's been around for years, at one point Microsoft bought it. Screwed it up and almost killed it. Then Phase One bought it and saved it.

I didn't include Photo Mechanic because I think what you're looking for has strong database tools and although I use PM almost everyday it is not a database / arching tool.
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Jeffery Jones, Photographer, Photo Editor
Gallup | NM | USA | Posted: 3:14 PM on 11.04.16
->> If you are using PCs then you might want to consider using ACDSee Ultimate 10, or Pro 10. There is a Mac version as well, but I don't know how it compares. ACDSee is similar to Lightroom in having different tabs, but unlike Lightroom, with ACDSee you don't need to do an ingest into the catalog in order to see the images.
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Kevin M. Cox, Photographer
Galveston & Houston | TX | US | Posted: 9:29 PM on 11.04.16
->> With that many photos you want to go server-based with the ability to access the archive from multiple computers.

There are plenty of commercial solutions, but if you don't have a budget look at something open source like ResourceSpace ( The only cost there is if you want premium support.
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Michael Myers, Photographer
Miami | Florida | USA | Posted: 10:19 PM on 11.04.16
->> I was wrong about the number of photos - I asked them to check, and they tell me is around 65,000 photos total.

The budget was to be as close to "free" as possible. I have gotten permission to order Lightroom for $150 or so, but that's the limit.

I watched the appropriate Laura Shoe videos, and it seems to do everything that they need (much more than what I think they expected).

I learned about "smart previews" yesterday - I didn't know that was possible. This will be a big help.

My only remaining concern is that it seems to me that only "one person" at a time can be using Lightroom. If two or three people wanted to access old photos, perhaps connecting to the computer with a Remote Desktop, is there any way that more than one person can be using Lightroom at a time? Back in the days of CP/M and MP/M multiple users could be working on their projects. With the current Windows, are there ways to allow more than one person to be using Lightroom simultaneously?
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Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 3:42 AM on 11.05.16
->> Your Lightroom purchase allows for the installation of the software on only two computers. To access the images by two computers they must reside on a networked sharable server. But since LR must control the location of the files, I don't know what will happen to LR management if the second computer moves any of the files. It may crash the system.

Lightroom is meant for one computer use. To have a single database of images be accessed by multiple computers means going to a system like MerlinOne which will cost hundreds to thousands of dollars. OR, have the photos reside on an online service like Photoshelter which requires a good internet connection.
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Stanley Leary, Photographer, Photo Editor
Roswell | GA | | Posted: 9:17 AM on 11.05.16
->> Lightroom is in my opinion a very poor choice. It is for a single user.

DAM is about setting up a server based system where multiple people can access those files at one time.

My recommendation would have been PhotoMechanic for metadata editing and then pick one of the server based programs people have recommended.

I love PhotoShelter because the cost would be minimal. Doing it on your own servers means you need three servers. Remember you need back up and then if you were backing up and something happens you can lose both of those. That is why a third copy is recommended.

When you upload to most cloud systems they are doing this or just one screw up and they will be out of business.

When you consider the costs of three systems and software this is when PhotoShelter starts to look more like not just a great deal but a steal.
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Michael Myers, Photographer
Miami | Florida | USA | Posted: 11:07 PM on 11.05.16
->> Some of what makes sense in the USA doesn't apply here, a fairly small city in southern India. The budget is already being pushed, just to spend the $150 for Lightroom. There is no option of buying servers, or expensive software. The choice they have been considering, is Picassa, which is free.

Most of the people in this department work in a single office - the photos can be on one computer, and they can use it, one person at a time, or access it via a Remote Desktop.

The cloud is out - I have trouble just getting an internet connection to check mail, let alone sending large amounts of data for photos.

Photo Mechanic is more complicated than what they'll accept, and far too expensive.

To me, Lightroom seems like the perfect solution for them. It's relatively easy to use, "Smart Previews" can show the searches they do most often, and once they learn how to search for anything, the biggest drawback is someone needs to set up all the KEYWORDS to make the photos searchable.

Backup is also simplified. I want copies of the 65,000 photos on more than one backup, so they can't be lost easily, and I want copies made of the LR catalog.

Thanks for all the feedback. Photo Mechanic and Lightroom seem to be the two choices that would fit their needs, and PM sounds far more complicated for a system that would do less for them. The choice isn't mine to make, but the only answer I have found that would work for them is LR.

(It's better than renaming file names, to include words such as "cataract" so they can search all the file names for ones including those letters!!!! Don't ask!)
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Michael Stevens, Photographer, Assistant
Glendale | AZ | USA | Posted: 9:28 PM on 11.06.16
->> Jeff, ACDSee on the Mac is nowhere near as good as on the PC. I bought it for the office thinking it would be as useful and it was pretty much just wasted money.
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Thread Title: Photo Organizer Software
Thread Started By: Michael Myers
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