iPad for Photographers
The iPad does have more to offer than become the saving grace the book and magazine publishing industries are hoping for. My initial impression, and what held me back from picking one up at first, was that it is just a bigger version of my iPhone. A lot of what I use a computer for can’t be done on the iPad (it runs on a slimmed-down OS like the iPhone). No Photoshop, Indesign, Illustrator, Word, Excel, etc. But there are a lot of handy apps for achieving utilitarian tasks. Taking notes, creating contacts, managing time, checking the weather, blogging, social networking etc., etc. Again, you can do those on your iPhone. If I didn’t have a computer, it would fill in some gaps, however to get most of the functionality from the iPad it must be synced to a computer. The internet usability alone is a much different experience on the iPad than the iPhone. You can quickly go blind and frustrated on your phone trying to read the web, but the iPad is much more readable due to it’s heftier size. The functionality is the same as the iPhone in the browsing regard, it’s just more accordingly sized. The publication apps (including Wired) are neat, but I don’t think they’ve quite yet lived up to their interactive experience potential. It remains to be seen if people will pay for them beyond the first issue release novelty (as of this morning Wired had sold more than 24,00 copies of its first iPad issue).
From a photographer and media person standpoint, one of the main selling points for me was the idea of being able to use it in place of a traditional printed portfolio. A nice portfolio book in itself can run well over a hundred dollars, then add in the custom prints, and the constant wear from page flipping/use, and suddenly $500 doesn’t seem to bad. A printed portfolio can approach that neighborhood quickly, and that’s just one book. On the iPad, photographers can create multiple books on the same device, which for someone like myself is necessary. I just dragged my images into an iPhoto gallery, organized them how I wanted, and synced it to my iPad. Done. The photos look amazing on the glossy screen, and users can flip from one to the next at the swipe of a finger. And for the time being, aside from being functional, there’s still a bit of a “that’s neat” feel to it.
One of, if not the most important asset to the portfolio usage for me, is the ability to also carry video reels as well as photographs. With the introduction of video into DSLR’s, and the ability to deliver motion on the internet, more and more photographers shoot video as well as still photos. You can’t put video in a printed book. Video works beautifully on the iPad. Much like I can with multiple photo albums (portfolios), I can have multiple video projects for different presentation purposes. It’s perfect.
I’ve begun stuffing my iPad full of photo, video and design work. I’ll keep a printed book handy for the purposes of mailing around, but other than that the iPad is a much better solution. I can swap out photos at the click of a button, and it doesn’t cost me any more out of pocket like prints would. The iPad can also be plugged into a projector, making slideshow presentations easy (another thing m printed book couldn’t do). What’s more is that now I can surf the internet and check my email from my portfolio. Could you do all those things from a laptop? Of course, but it’s a bit more cumbersome, especially when passing around, and it’s just not as streamlined of a presentation. I wouldn’t want my work presented that way.
One great unadvertised use that’s neat for photographers is that the iPad actually works fairly well as a lightbox. There is an app called flashlight for the iPhone, and when used on the iPad, you end up with a fully lit white-light surface, which works well when you need a lightbox in a pinch. In addition, photographers also have the ability to download digital photos directly from a card to the device via an accessory card reader. I don’t have a need for that, but it’s nice to know it’s a possibility.
If that’s not enough, it’s pretty handy for surfing the web on the couch, and watching movies on Netflix. Let’s call it “Portfolio +.”