Apple iPad: For Photographers?

Today was the big Apple announcement of the new iPad.  While you can view all sorts of immediate reaction from various technology pundits, this view of the iPad is from a photographer’s perspective (check out my labs later this weekend for additional thoughts from another viewpoint).

[For full disclosure, the only photographer related posts I have read about the iPad as of this writing was G Dan Mitchell’s.]

The first thing to keep in mind is the market segment that the iPad is designed for: the consumer. Meaning it has a specific set of uses and is designed around those uses.  This is not a device that you will use for editing photos out in the field, it doesn’t have the horsepower designed for this type of task.

The next immediate thought for photographers is: can I use it as a image tank?  Possibly.  If you buy the 64 GB version, you could use it for this, but only for the smallest of photo shoots.  And you would have to buy an adapter to transfer the photos to the iPad.  I recently upgraded my MBP to a 500 GB hard drive as I was running out for space for photos during long trips.  64 GB, 500 GB.  Nuf said.

What I do see the iPad excelling at from a photographer’s end user perspective:  a killer portable portfolio.  From this aspect, the iPad is the Masarati of photo frames.  The ability to showcase your work to new clients or existing clients in style…impressive.  The ability to do it on the fly at any time the iPad is with you…priceless.  So if you buy an iPad as a photographer, make sure you have a collection of your work on the iPad at all times.  (Personally, I’m not all that excited about iPhoto being the key application to get the photos on there..but it’s Apple.  And this will change over time.)

Even better is the iPad as a photo frame for another person.  With an iPad App from FrameChannel coupled with a customer charging dock and now we’re talking!  FrameChannel is a service I’ve been keeping an eye on for the simple use case of how to share my photos with my parents.  With my parents being in their 80’s and my Dad being the only one who uses their current computer, and just barely, there is no good way to proactively share with them my latest photos.  Let alone family photos from my siblings.  With FrameChannel, I can create a channel for them, link in my RSS photo feed and give my siblings a way to add their own photos to the channel.  Then point supported digital photo frames to this channel on FrameChannel and viola, the automatically get the latest photos from everyone in the family.  Now, let’s take that to the next level with a FrameChannel iPad App: it connects to the channel of your choice and you sit back and watch the slide show or actively browse through the photos.  Add a customized charging dock that triggers a special mode in the FrameChannel iPad App and it turns the iPad into an active photo frame while you’re not using the iPad and it’s charging.  Now this is just active dreaming as this app doesn’t exist…yet?  (anyone out there listening?)

Since the iPhone has the DSLR Camera Remote application already and the iPad will run all the iPhone apps, you’ll be able to use the iPad to remotely control your Canon or Nikon DSLR.  Given that there will be 2 months for onOne software to update their application to fully leverage the iPad.  Image having not only the larger screen for LiveView from the camera, but you could also have the ability to zoom into the LiveView image to fine tune the focus.  When you start to get creative with what the multi-touch surface could do things can get very interesting…image a fully remote controlled camera interfaced with a tilt-pan motorized ball head!  It could be like photographer…the video game!

I also can’t wait to see how some of the photo hosting application get creative with the large screen. Blossom (for SmugMug), Darkslide (for Flickr) and of course Cooliris and Brushes.  We can all expect larger photo viewing and more interesting browsing capabilities, just to start.

Now, the most important part of the iPad for photographers: how will consumers use it?

This is how we should all be thinking about it.  How can we use it to generate more revenue for ourselves?  The most obvious is building more iPad centric applications that use our photos.  I’m thinking of applications that allow your latest and greatest work to be downloaded and used as the iPad’s background.  Or how about a new generation of photo e-books?  Maybe ones that not only include photos but behind the scenes videos ala DVD extras.  Or, how about travel/instructional e-books geared toward photographers or sight seers?  The options here are only limited by your imagination, your time, and of course the iPad SDK.

If you think about how the iPad could influence the future of digital media, then what we should be looking for are true digital photo distribution services.  All this electronic content being viewed on the iPad could have your photos embedded in it by the content providers via a new type of stock licensing model, one geared toward the future of digital media.  This is an area that I have given lots of thoughts to in the past (watch for a future sharing of some of these thoughts…).

So, have you taken a look at the iPad?  What are your thoughts on how you would use it?

10 Replies to “Apple iPad: For Photographers?”

  1. I fully agree with you Greg, the iPad is going to be a killer photo portfolio: stylish, easy to use, easy to carry, speedy, and the presentation of photos will trump anything out there. You can hand this device to a potential client and they can intuitively flip through photos at their own pace, which will both fascinate and impress.

    I was very skeptical about the iPhone and its value when it first came out, and I didn’t jump on board until the 3G came out – when I finally broke down and played with one, I was immediately hooked. And the value, via Apps both paid and free, I have gotten since has gone way, way above the initial cost.

    I expect the iPad will be the same way – this is a game-changer, so it’s hard for us to even fathom the ways it will improve the business of photography. It creates a new platform, a new venue, a new canvas, a new gallery, a new experience; all of which, I believe, smart photographers will learn to leverage in full.

    Great write up, Greg – one of the best I’ve yet read about the iPad’s potential for photographers.


  2. hi ,

    i am using cooliris slideshow .but it is not working in ipad. it is not supported this slideshow.
    it is working well on computer.

    thank you


  3. Some interesting ideas here Greg. I tend to agree that the biggest use for photographers will be as a fantastic portable display vehicle. I am getting into developing client slideshows which incorporate some video as will as still images and I think the iPad will be ideal for that. I have linked to your post as I like your ideas.


  4. I want the ability to import photos into an app such as Bento, then generate a sales order and/or model release. Better wireless I/O options, such as the ability to host an ad hoc wireless network with the iPad, would make a big difference. Here’s my suggested workflow for the iPad as an on-site sales tool at, for instance, a junior sporting event. Capture -> MacBook -> edit -> output saleable images wirelessly to iPad -> display to clients -> selected image transferred to Bento for sales order -> optional model release -> sales order filled and dispatched.

    The advantage of an iPad used this way is its portability. You take the iPad to the customer, as opposed to bringing the customer to the sales desk. In the process, you generate interest from onlookers, who may register for photo requests. Essentially, the iPad is used in this scenario to generate sales leads in ways that can’t be done when interaction and image previews are bound to a sales desk.


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