Amateur photographers - photo management solutions?

I currently have a just over 1TB of photos, all in a single Lightroom Classic catalog. I sync the catalog between my desktop & laptop via a Synology NAS, but most of the actual photos are only on the desktop (backed up to the NAS).

I have an Adobe Creative Cloud Photography plan and I was looking into migrating to Lightroom-CC, but it appears I only get 20GB of online storage. Adding 1TB storage increases monthly cost from $10 to $20. I’m not sure if it’s worth it. Are there any alternative strategies or services I should consider?

The abilities I want are:

  • Some way to archive RAW files

  • Ability to make adjustments to RAW images and save those changes

  • Preferably, all photos in one place

  • Ability to view, edit & share images on laptop (after I copied the images from camera to laptop), and then easily transfer or merge them to the main archive over the Internet, or after I get home

I just buy external hard drives in pairs and back everything up in case one starts to get dicey. Not a big fan of paying for cloud storage, plus being old and set in my outdated ways I kinda prefer physical media that I exclusively control ;).

It sounds like you want some combination of a backup solution plus shareable photos/photo links. I can’t think of a service that offers all that you want.

I use SmugMug, but that isn’t a good solution for what you want (they don’t support Raw).

The other service I use (mostly because it is included in Prime) is Amazon Photos, which does support Raw for some camera models.

I believe both services offer “unlimited” photos as standard.

“Unlimited” sounds suspicious. Amazon offers S3 (on-line scalable simple storage) and 1 TB would indeed cost roughly $10-20/month, not free. That is a service that would allow one to archive and link to photos (RAW or any format, it’s just a storage service which doesn’t care what you put there), as well as update them and all the other stuff mentioned.

Capture one has offline catalogs with searches and thumbnails.

Catalogs & Sessions are very useful.

I don’t have a catchall solution to your problem, but I do have a niche product that can help substantially if you are a prolific photographer:

Photo Mechanic

This tool is all about very quickly ingesting and then sifting through hundreds of shots, so you can cull heavily before you ever get close to Lightroom.

It was originally designed for sports photographers, with pro features such as keywording templates and very flexible bulk export tools (e.g. FTP, SFTP, web services, and so forth).
The idea is that a sports photographer can very quickly cull, rate, and keyword their photos and then upload to the wire services, all during half time.

This makes it an excellent tool for hardcore amateurs who take scads of photographs. You can import from multiple cards at once (other tools can’t do this). There are very flexible auto naming features. You can quickly bulk edit the timestamp–I always take a picture of my system clock as the last shot on a card, then I use the tool to adjust the EXIF time to match the captured system clock time; then I apply the same delta to all 300 or so shots I imported. This is really nice if you use multiple cameras at an event, as it allows you to have synchronized clocks even if the internal clocks of the cameras were off.

But the most important feature of the tool is that it is fast. The culling process goes by so quickly.
I normally shoot a few hundred shots at a portrait shoot or at an event, and it takes me just a few minutes in Photo Mechanic to go through all of them and toss the obvious clunkers and out-of-focus shots. Then when I have whittled the 300 shots down to a few dozen I drag them into Lightroom where the real finesse begins.

And the more culling you can do earlier on, the easier all downstream steps become.
Honestly, who needs fifteen slightly different photographs of their kid coming at them on a bicycle? Learn to choose the very best quickly and dump the rest, before you invest time in them. One spectacular photograph of the kid is all one needs to represent the moment.

One more thought: look into tools that facilitate RAW + JPEG workflows. That way you can use the JPEG if you are satisfied with what the camera produced (many modern cameras produce excellent JPEGs). Then all you need the RAW for is edge situations where you need to rescue a poorly exposed photo or you need to fine tune the light. This can save hundreds of gigabytes of storage, as you only need to keep those massive RAW files in special cases.

Yeah, I can’t think of anything that will do what you want that doesn’t involve paying some significant coin. I’ve never liked Adobe for storage either - I tried it for a year and … never again.

I have a Google Drive account that is convenient for syncing photos (and other files) between computers, but it won’t save photos at full resolution unless you’re willing to pay for that amount of storage, and of course the editing in Google Photos is … basic. I’m really sorry Picasa isn’t being updated anymore; I generally don’t do a whole lot of editing and that worked well for most of my stuff, and I could upload from it to Google or not as I wished.

I’ve had to cobble together several things to get what I want and like you I sure wish I didn’t have to. I’ll be watching this thread to see if there’s anything new I don’t know about.

That ‘Photo Mechanic’ looks really interesting for what I do, over kill really but it would speed things up a lot.

That is my own assessment too. I downloaded a trial version many years ago thinking I was being some kind of poser in using a pro tool like that.
But then I found that it works very well and efficiently for what I do. On top of that, even though I bought it in 2014, all updates have been free–that’s a rare thing in software these days.

Download a trial version and give it a shot. Note that it may take a bit of Googling and watching YouTube tutorials to figure out your own workflow. For example, there is a bit of one-time finesse needed to get the color tags you assign in PM to carry over to Lightroom. Also, the transfer to LR can be done in many ways, but once you find your own efficient technique it works like a dream.

…pay the extra $10 dollars a month. You can kludge together a mish-mash of other services and not quite get what you want: or pay the extra $10 and get exactly what you need. Background: I’m a photographer with over 1.66 TB of *JPEG’s * (not RAW) stored online who has put a lot of work into coming up with an efficient workflow.

The advantages of Adobe storage is that if you are using Lightroom CC and you’ve synched your images you can open and edit your RAW’s as and when you need too, even using the online app if need be. Its optimized for the workflow you want to use.

Also Adobe isn’t going to run out of money and go out of business, which a lot of online storage places have over the last few years. There are other online storage options available (and I use them: a combination of Photoshelter, Dropbox, Google Drive and Adobe storage depending on my specific needs) but Adobe, for all its flaws, makes the most sense (IHMO) for your specific requirements.

Photo Mechanic won’t do what you want to do. I use photo mechanic as well (and I use it to upload RAW’s after I finish culling and before I import to Lightroom) and its fantastic: but it serves another purpose entirely.

I totally agree with Banquet Bear.

I only brought up PM as a specialized tool that can improve the cull, which helps everything else, but it is a bit of a red herring in this discussion.

Just pony up the subscription fee for Adobe and smile at all of the excellent tools available.
Of all subscription services, this on really delivers far more bang for the buck.

Thanks all. I mainly wanted to check if I was missing any good alternatives, and it doesn’t appear that way.

It also looks like there is a Lightroom-CC license that comes with 1TB storage, but no other software, for $10 a month. So I’d give up Photoshop and Lightroom Classic. That may be the way to go.