My wife Caroline and I run Quiver Tree Photography, based in Washington, North Carolina. We weren’t always in the photography business – we were doing missionary work in Scotland when we got married, then moved back to my native South Africa to start a non-profit. That’s when taking pictures started being more than just documenting our growing family: when you run a non-profit, you’re the CEO, you’re the Secretary, and unless someone else steps up to do it, you’re the photographer, too.
By the time we moved back to North Carolina, we were, to be brutally honest, struggling financially. I needed to make something work to put food on the table for my family. Fortunately, a professional photographer invited me to second shoot a wedding, and on the strength of that experience, my wife and I decided to start Quiver Tree. We jumped in with both feet, opening a gallery, and offering lifestyle sessions — basically chasing two- and three-year-olds around in the humidity, trying to capture something. (Being from South Africa, I’ve had plenty of practice shooting wildlife in the heat. This was a lot like that). Things were tight at first. If you’d asked me then to take pictures of pets, I would have said yes.
Fast forward a few years, and we’ve stabilized and found our niche: Quiver Tree has a sustainable wedding business, shoots for a number of commercial clients, and chases fewer toddlers around the park.
Well, because Apple killed Aperture. My family has always been very much an Apple family – iPads, Macbooks, iPhones. We were using iPhoto before we started the business, then Aperture and Lightroom as we got more serious about photography. As our business grew, I realized I had a photo management problem: all my personal photos were in iPhoto and Aperture, and our wedding and commercial work was in Lightroom. I was becoming disconnected — the more complicated my system was, the harder it was to work with, and I found I was less likely to want to work with it. I was culling my personal images less and less, and managing it all was taking some of the joy of photography out of my life. Then Apple killed Aperture. I think I probably swore a few times when I learned about this. I had to find a new solution.
I like to follow along with what’s happening in the industry on a news aggregator, and that’s where I found a blog post by Chase Jarvis inviting folks to check out Mylio. I thought: this is the magic bullet.
The idea of having one central place to view all your photos no matter where they are — and knowing they’re backed up in several locations — is phenomenal. I’ve been using Mylio since it was in beta, and I’ve seen how it’s developed and grown.
How we use Mylio as a photo organizer:
After shooting a wedding, I’ll have 3,000 – 4,000 images, so Mylio is an integral part of my workflow. First I’ll cull through the images using Photo Mechanic, then drop what I keep into a Lightroom catalogue before sending them off to ShootDotEdit for white balance, color control, and so on. Once the photos come back, I merge the two catalogues, and fine tune things in Lightroom. Once I’m happy with the finished product – including versions of everything in black and white – I can use Mylio as a photo organizer to manage what goes where, and when. If I want to access all the images for our blog, or all the images for a slide show to present to clients, I can do that. I can even be out of town when I finish an edit, and my wife can pull the images from Mylio while I continue to do other work.
I use an advanced import system with Mylio, because I think I have close to 50,000 personal images and 150,000 professional images, and I’m creating more each day. I archive client work so that it doesn’t distract me as I do other projects; I can reference them in Mylio when I want to work on them, then set things so that I don’t see them after I’ve delivered the finished product.
This is another big positive thing about Mylio: even though I could, I don’t have to reference all my images in Mylio – I can be selective, and not get slowed down by what I don’t need.
I’ve set Mylio to display thumbnails on my 16gb iPhone, but if I start running out of space I can go into Mylio and modify what’s kept there, and get some space back on the phone. It makes the photo management process so much easier. I said we’re an Apple family, and Apple has great products, but I think they’ve started dropping the ball on the software side of things. I don’t use iCloud for photos, for instance – it’s not something I want to work with. With Mylio, everything I capture on any device is getting backed up on my desktop. I don’t have to plug into anything, it just happens. Knowing my iPhone photos and videos are being magically transported to my hard drive is really huge.
The other bonus: Caroline and I are able to work really efficiently, because we can work in tandem. I do image culling and tending, and she does things like our blog. We each have an iMac; I know that if I’ve looked at a set of images so much I can’t make a decision, they will show up on her machine right away, and she can take things from there. I don’t even have to get out of my seat. It’s really sped up how we work. (I also like that, when work is done, Caroline can mention a lovely photo of the kids on the beach in South Africa, and I can pick the phone and find it right away. It’s just awesome).
We have a busy household with four children – eight, five, three, and almost one year-old – and Caroline looks after the kids, including homeschooling. So the speed and efficiency Mylio provides is important to us. We’ve been very intentional in how we want our family unit to function, and that’s one of the reasons we decided on a photography business. I don’t have to go to a 9-to-5. Sometimes we work on weekends, and those are long days, but then we have weekdays with the kids, and can take family vacations. We decide how hard we work, or when we work. We try and remember what’s most important, and get to share moments all the time.
So I have all these family photos to cull, but there’s no deadline because with Mylio I have this peace of mind that they’re waiting for me. I won’t lose anything.
Anything I capture with my camera or phone, I don’t have to worry they’ll go away. Any time I do have a spare moment, I can pick up an iPhone, iPad, or go to my iMac, open Mylio, go to my cull folder, pick my keepers, and do a quick edit. Not for perfection, but to preserve my memories.
I mean: where did my eight year-old come from? He was just one!
What advice would you give new Mylio users?
Spend some time on the tutorials page. I’m one of these hand-on learning people, and built up my catalogue from scratch two or three times to get it the way I wanted it, but you might want to go through the tutorials to get a sense of the product. It’s a Swiss Army Knife, it really does so many things. There really isn’t a great digital media management program out there; it’s a nightmare for professional photographers right now. Mylio is the only one going for the crown in my opinion.