The best photo management software for photographers.March 23rd, 2022
On your path to becoming a professional photographer, you probably take hundreds if not thousands of photos every time you shoot. But how do you store and keep track of all of those photos, as well as share them with clients, and keep your intellectual property safe? To answer these questions, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite photo manager programs and broken down what makes each of them unique, so that you can choose the best photo management software for your photography business.
Before You Get Started
The right photo management software will free up valuable time and effort so that you can focus your attention where it actually needs to be: on developing your skills and turning your side hustle into a profitable business. One way to impress potential clients is by showcasing your work and offering quick, easy purchasing options, so set up your portfolio alongside an online store to turn website viewers into paying customers.
Best Photo Management Software
Zenfolio isn’t just a portfolio website builder (though we do make some stunning portfolio templates). It’s a full-service tool for photographers to manage their business so they can spend more time interacting with clients and shooting, and less time worrying about the “other stuff”. Zenfolio comes with scalable cloud-based photo and video storage to fit your current needs, and grow right along with you. With a wide range of gallery settings, you can show and share your images in portfolios, or customize privacy settings for your clients. Use the People Finder feature so clients can easily find pictures of specific people in their galleries with our face recognition software. Get even more detailed and sort images with tags so you can easily search your images according to category, scene or any other metric you want. With our Adobe Lightroom Plugin, you can easily and seamlessly integrate your Zenfolio account with your post-production workflow. Of course, you can also use the built-in custom branded galleries for client proofing and digital file delivery. And if you’re ready to simplify while increasing print sales, you can also take advantage of our comprehensive and intuitive e-Commerce platform to sell, print, and market your photography.
Adobe Bridge CC is an ideal photo management software for users of other Adobe Creative Cloud programs like Photoshop or Illustrator. Adobe Bridge is free with the purchase of another Adobe program, and the interface will be easy to figure out for those experienced in using Adobe products. You are able to import photos (along with their thumbnails and metadata) directly from your camera, card reader or mobile device, with the ability to bulk import, export, and preview images. Then, save valuable time by editing photos in batches, creating a unifying color scheme throughout one group of photos. Add a watermark to protect your work and promote your business before uploading to Adobe Stock, where you can earn royalties from your stock photography.
CyberLink PhotoDirector 365 is a great option for a photo management software that works on multiple operating systems and with a variety of common file types including RAW image files. This photo manager has a simple interface that makes it easy to learn and use, so you won’t waste time getting bogged down in the details of learning a complicated new program. In terms of organizing your photo and video files, you can tag and search by keyword, date, color, location, and faces you’ve tagged. You can also create slideshows from your photos, complete with background music, transitions, and effects, and then share them directly to Youtube.
Along with its photo management software, PhotoDirector 365 also has an extensive set of photo editing tools, from simple adjustments to more complex edits. If you’re new to editing photos or you just don’t have the time to edit your photos right away, PhotoDirector 365’s automatic adjustment options will provide a great start that you can build off of later on. On the more advanced side, this software also has options for cosmetic retouching, like removing wrinkles or blemishes, fixing red eyes, and whitening teeth.
On the downside, this photo manager doesn’t automatically recognize and sort images by the people in them, so you’ll have to tag those individually if you want to organize your photos that way. However, PhotoDirector 365 offers a pretty cool feature called Video to Photo Face Swap, which is designed for getting a perfect group photo even when one or more of your group may be blinking. With this technology, you can take a screengrab directly from a video, and then swap a face in the frame you chose for a different frame where your subject is smiling (or at least has their eyes open). This can come in handy especially for wedding photography, when you really need every single detail to be perfect for your client.
Other cool editing features include the ability to create a seamless panoramic image by selecting multiple photos through HDR imaging. If you have video footage, you can create multi-exposure photos, or use the Vibrant Motion Stills feature to create a cinemagraph, where only one part of the video moves. For photographers working with 360° photos, you’ll be able to edit those as well as create panoramas from them. Remove poor weather conditions like smog or haze with the Dehaze slider, and remove unwanted objects in just a few simple clicks. You can even do graphic design work using this photo manager’s advanced layer editing to combine images, text, and graphics and create captivating content.
You’ll also be able to tether your camera to your computer to remote shoot, and immediately view and edit your images on your desktop. Perhaps the most compelling feature of all, Soft Proofing allows you to see how your images will print so you can make the necessary adjustments before you spend time and money getting things printed. As well as these features, you receive 50 GBs of online storage completely free, and you’ll receive reminders to back up your work from the app. You can access this online from multiple devices, and there are phone apps for both Android and iOs operating systems. If that isn’t enough, there’s also an active online community of users where you can ask questions about the photo management software or even get feedback on your photography.
Unlike some other photo management apps, there is no password protection with PhotoDirector 365, although new features are added regularly. Plans for PhotoDirector 365 start at only $3.42/month, making it an affordable option for beginners and professional photographers alike.
Magix Photo Manager Deluxe is another powerful image editor and photo manager. Its simple user interface makes it a good choice for photographers at any stage in their career. Magix is compatible with all conventional photo and video formats including RAW photos and AVCHD videos, and it uses layers, meaning you can create complex designs easily. When you edit your photos, you won’t have to worry about losing the original version, because Magix automatically creates a copy when you begin editing.
Users are able to import images from a variety of online cloud services as well as scanners and cameras, so you can see all of your photos in one place, regardless of where you’ve stored them in the past. The app can also access camera metadata so you can know exactly what settings were used in capturing each photo – a wonderful tool if you need to recreate a particular look or effect. You can organize your photos and videos by tagging them with keywords, location, color labels, star ratings, and faces. This photo manager offers basic photo editing capabilities like color correction, auto-enhancing, and image sharpening, but experienced editors may require a more robust set of tools.
Create a customized slideshow with transition effects and background music, which you can then share directly to Youtube, or burn photos and slideshows to CDs or DVDs. The Selection Wizard will analyze your library of images and automatically sort out duplicates and low-quality or blurry photos. Using a combination of up to eight images, you can create a panorama that will be automatically aligned and blended into one unified image. If you’re overwhelmed by all the different capabilities on offer, don’t worry: Magix has a library of tutorial videos online that will help you navigate its photo management software and make the most of your investment.
ACDSee emphasizes security, whether through the ability to lock folders and individual files with password protection (ideal for sharing photo proofs with clients) or the ability to create and add a custom watermark to your photos. Purchase of this photo management software includes limited online storage, with extra available at an additional cost. ACDSee supports multiple file types including RAW and offers high-quality editing software, with tools like object removal and cosmetic adjustments. Organize your photos by keyword, rating, date, color, location, or faces, or create and assign custom categories that make the most sense for you.
Photo Management Software for Mac
If you’re a Mac user who hasn’t given Apple Photos a chance, it should definitely be your first stop in the search for the best photo management software for Mac. There is no simpler option than Apple Photos: it already comes installed on your computer and any other Apple device, and the desktop version opens automatically when you connect your phone or tablet to your computer. Better yet, it’s completely free.
Photos will create slideshows of your Memories without your intervention based on location or time, which you can easily share with other Mac users, who will be able to access your shared folder directly through their Apple device. Scene and object recognition allows you to search your photos by objects, like beach, apple, or tree, or to combine search terms to find the exact photo you’re looking for. Through Live photos, this photo manager will suggest which videos to turn into loops, reverse, or long exposure based on the app’s algorithms. Apple Photos also has standard photo editing capabilities and it is compatible with RAW photo files.
MacPaw Gemini 2 is a very specific photo management software that focuses on locating and comparing similar and duplicate photos in order to recover valuable space on your Mac. As a photographer, you probably find that you have tens or hundreds of photos of the exact same scene from slightly different angles. How many of these angles are you really going to use? Once your duplicates are all in one place, you can handpick which files to delete and which to save, or rely on Gemini 2’s Smart Select, which will automatically choose and delete the files it thinks you don’t really need.
The program’s algorithms can determine which files are originals and which are copies so it knows which files to keep, and deletes the rest. The algorithm will also learn from observing your actions and behavior over time and amend its practices as a result. If you do allow Gemini 2 to take the reins and delete duplicates using Smart Select, you can always rescue accidental deletes from the trash – nothing will be deleted permanently unless you empty your deleted items folder. Although this photo manager is lacking in some of the more advanced photo editing and management capabilities, it is a useful preliminary step in your quest to organize your photos (and clear up hard drive space while you’re at it).
Photo Management Software for Windows 11
If you want the best photo manager for Windows 11, PaintShop Pro 2022 is definitely up there. This windows photo management software provides powerful photo editing with simple and advanced enhancements, as well as a range of organizational tools perfect for the busy photographer on the go. The latest update includes highly effective features and tools powered by artificial intelligence, so you can let your creative juices flow freely and make your vision reality. Take your pick from the Pro or Ultimate interfaces: Pro provides all your basic editing tools, while Ultimate also includes specialized video, animation, and drawing tools. Color manipulation, HDR images, and object removal are just a few of the capabilities available through this app, which can be used on your Android tablet as well as your Windows desktop. The photo management software supports all of the main photo types, including RAW, JPEG, PSD, TIFF, GIF, and PNG, so no matter what format you like to work in, PaintShop Pro has you covered.
Sort your photos using keywords, ratings, dates, faces, and location – unlike some other photo management software, with this photo manager you are not able to sort photos by color. The app comes with free online storage, and users receive regular reminders to back up their files so in the event of an emergency all of their hard work and effort stays protected. Although you cannot create slideshows or burn images directly to a CD, Corel does allow you to share photos directly to a variety of social media websites. The creative presets use artificial intelligence to anticipate your photo editing and management needs. This is a photo management software designed for photographers by photographers, making it a great option for Windows users.
Phototheca is a photo management software that combines a few of the features we’ve seen in other options all in one place. Not only does it automatically identify and collect duplicate images for you to review, but it also populates smart albums automatically when you set specifications. You can organize your images by theme, location, event, and more, and then share them to Flickr, Google Photos, Facebook or Twitter, or email photos to a client directly through the app.
If you use multiple cameras in your business, Phototheca can organize your files based on the camera used to take the photos. Import photos and their metadata easily from your computer, cell phone, tablet, HD cards, external hard drive, and more. Multiple RAW camera formats are supported, as well as a number of video formats. Unique additional actions are also available, like the ability to fix incorrect timestamps. The calendar view provides a visual representation of your photography over time, so you can find exactly what you’re searching for as well as visualize your progress and work over the months and years. Password protection is available and Phototheca is a free photo manager. Commercial use, unlimited photo library, and more features are available when you upgrade to Phototheca Pro.
Fresh View is another Windows photo management software that is completely free. It supports multiple media formats, including video, photo, and audio all in one convenient location. Features include the ability to convert graphics from one type to another, print, and create HTML albums. There are currently 86 media file formats supported by Fresh View, with more being added regularly. Visually, the interface comes across as a bit outdated compared to some of the other photography management software options on this list, and there is no online storage available, so you’ll need to connect to separate cloud storage to save your files online.
Best Free Photo Management Software
Google Photos is a free photo management software included in the Google Suite, making it a good option for those familiar with Google products and services. This photo manager is compatible with both photos and videos, and it automatically uploads to linked cloud storage. You get unlimited free storage for high-quality images with reduced file sizes, or 12 GBs of free storage if you choose to upload the full resolution images. Additional storage is available for a fee. Google Photos connects to Google Drive and allows you to provide a shareable link with customizable options, so you can have complete control over what changes and additions, if any, viewers are allowed to make. You can even order photo albums of the images you uploaded directly through the Google Photos app, making printing your images super simple and straightforward. Share albums with family, friends, or clients through Facebook, Twitter, or email.
Mylio is another free photo management software that also has a free mobile app for photographers who like to access and edit their work no matter where they are. You can upload photos from your device or an external hard drive, or you have the option of importing images directly from your Facebook account. Once you’ve uploaded your images, Mylio will automatically organize them into a variety of views, including the calendar view, which separates photos into the years, then months, in which they were taken. Since Mylio is not a cloud-based service, you can view all of your files on any of your devices regardless of whether you have internet access or not. Simply designate one of your devices as the Vault, and Mylio will keep your image library on that device up to date with full-sized files.
This allows you to access everything on all of your devices without internet or taking up a huge amount of space, so you’ll free up your storage space and still have access to your photos. Facial recognition software will automatically separate photos based on people’s faces, and it will learn over time based on your actions within the photo management software. Photo editing capabilities include filters as well as more advanced sliders. For additional security, Mylio offers encrypting capabilities, and you can integrate with other cloud-based libraries for an added sense of security. This free photo management software allows users to connect 3 separate devices and maintain a library of 25,000 photos, while paid versions Mylio Premium and Mylio Max offer additional features.
Since more expensive photo manager software will likely provide editing, sharing, and storing capabilities as well as photo organization, while free versions may only include some of these features, consider what options you actually need for your photography business when determining which photo management software you should invest in.
Now that you’ve got your photos all organized using your chosen photo management software, you can focus your time on what’s really important, like taking more photos, improving your technique, and learning new skills. With all your photos organized you’ll be able to decide which photos to include in your online portfolio website. By carefully curating your portfolio you can make sure you’re representing your best self and embracing your niche. Don’t have an online portfolio yet? Choose one with unique templates and typography to customize every last detail of your portfolio and really stand apart from the crowd.
Good luck with finding the perfect photo management software for your photography business. We can’t wait to see how it goes!