When I first started this blog I wrote a post about how much I love using my Fujifilm X-T20. Around the time I wrote that post I made a decision to stop paying for a Creative Cloud subscription and began using my phone as a hub for all my photos. Now, several months later, I can’t see myself ever going back.

Previously 💾

To provide some context, it’s worth noting my old workflow. I previously used a Canon 6D and shot exclusively in raw, meaning that each picture was around 10-25mb in size. Whenever I had taken a set of photos I would plug my SD card and an external hard drive into my laptop, open up Lightroom and transfer everything. I would then do some batch edits to the set and would often spend some more time on my favourites. Then I would export a subset of the photos and add them to Photos for Mac to be uploaded to iCloud where I could share them with others. Finally, I had Backblaze cloud set up in use so I would usually end up leaving my laptop sitting on overnight plugged full of external drives to allow time for backups to complete.

Going full iCloud ☁️

Back in March I was getting pretty fed up with how long it took to get my photos anywhere. I was enjoying the portability of my Fujifilm but was still restricted by either WiFi transfer speeds to my phone or the hard drive workflow described above. At that point I had stopped using raw as I was happy with the JPEGs I got straight out of the camera. I decided, on a whim, to cancel both my Backblaze and my Creative Cloud subscriptions. I moved every photo from my hard drives into Photos.app and left it for weeks (yes, plural) to upload everything. As of today I have ‘37,611’ photos and ‘1,744’ videos stored in iCloud. I’ve also got the free tier of Google Photos so I have lower quality backups on the other side too.

This has been great for so many reasons.

  • Access to all my photos on virtually any device - including my phone, laptop, work laptop and the increasingly good iCloud.com
  • Great utilisation of machine learning for photos. I’ve tagged friends and family and can now make full use of search in Photos. This has only been made better by iOS 12 where you can combine search terms. I can instantly find photos of all sorts. For example ‘Rory Bain’, ‘Snowboarding’ in ‘France’.
  • Vastly improved “Memories”. When adding my photos from my hard drives, I also added photos from my Mum’s old hard drives. I’ve still many more to add, but even now it’s made the Memories feature far more enjoyable. On a persons birthdays for example, it automatically creates an album with my photos of that person over the years. Most people only get these albums since the start of their social media presence in the last 10 years and are photos are limited to ones that they’ve selectively kept online. This gives me photos going back decades.
  • Less scraping through sets of photos. Another benefit of machine learning and image recognition techniques in is that Photos automatically only adds distinct photos to auto-created albums. There aren’t 10 takes of the same family photo where I accidentally left continuous shutter on.
  • iOS photo editing apps are great. I personally use Darkroom 90% of the time and can do 80% of what I did in Lightroom without any importing faff.

And much more…

The final (for now 😬) piece of the iCloud set up that I received last week was a Lightning SD card adapter. Until now I have been using my laptop to upload my photos, having given up on WiFi transfer for being too slow. I got the Apple SD adapter, which I would highly recommend despite its high price. I tried to cheap out at first and was left with an adapter that hardly worked. Plus, the Apple one transfers at USB-3 speeds on the iPad Pro. I now leave this adapter in my bag alongside my camera and I can transfer photos in an instant. I love this setup. Its only problem is that it has me eyeing the upcoming 2018 iPad Pro… 🙄