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I should probably make it clear at the outset that I am an Apple freak, an iSnob. I love everything that Apple make, and I am one of those strange people who actually has two iPods.
But the reason I am so Apple-crazy is because their products are just amazing, so user-friendly and organised, and iPhoto '09 is no exception.
When you connect your camera to your computer, iPhoto immediately offers to upload your photos. Unlike previous photo-uploading software I have used, iPhoto offers an option to hide photos you have previously uploaded, saving a lot of time that would otherwise have been spent un-ticking.
iPhoto automatically divides your photos into "events", based on what date they were taken, but it is easy to merge days into one event, or separate out some photos from others taken on the same day. Like all things Apple, all you have to do is drag it to where you want it to go, and it is done. You can then rename your events, and your photos within the event.
You can view all photos within an event in slightly smaller sizes, or double click on a photo to see it at full size.
iPhoto also has the option of tagging people in photos, and once you have tagged someone, it "recognises" other photos of them, and asks you if this is actually that person. This facial recognition gets more accurate the more photos of someone you have tagged, and is usually quite good. iPhoto creates an album of a person full of all the photos of them.
It also shows you (with remarkable accuracy) where your photos were taken on a map of the world. Really, iPhoto does everything.
The amazing thing about iPhoto is that it will upload your photos onto Facebook, MobileMe and Flickr. The only one of these I have used is Facebook, but the iPhoto uploader is brilliant. It only takes about a minute and just one click to upload an entire album - even with my slow internet connection. Much simply than uploading photos the old-fashioned way!
You can also "flag" important photos which go into an album of their own.
All in all, iPhoto is absolutely amazing for those of us who like to be organised. It never ceases to make me happy.
I have to admit; when it comes to my computer I am a bit of an organisation freak (if you were to look at my desk you'd argue otherwise though). My iTunes library has all music tagged appropriately with Album Artwork, and I like to keep stuff this way, makes it easier to find work that otherwise would be lost in a great mass of files.
Up until recently I was a windows user, and my photo library basically consisted of folders for each year, and then within that folders for specific events. This worked fine, but it was lacking in that I couldn't easily search or tag photos - e.g. so that I could mark photo's as favourites. When I first used my Mac it came pre-loaded with iPhoto '08, although I soon upgraded this to the latest '09 version, which had many new features.
Initially I found the layout a bit odd, as there are essentially 2 organisational features - Events & Albums, I'll try to explain these as best as I can, as this is how I use them. To begin with I interpreted each "Event" (Previously called Set/Roll) as an album, for example a Holiday would have it's own album (to keep it separate from all other pic's), although this can soon get confusing and quite clunky. So - here's what makes sense to me, each Event has it's own Event created (I know it sounds a bit daft, but I couldn't get my head around it at the time!), then albums can be made up of anything, for example if you went on a trip around the world you could have an "Event" for each place that you visited, and then an Album could be created collating all Events together. Once you have got your head around this (it took me a few attempts at getting it right) it makes adding new photos a doddle.
iPhoto makes importing photo's simpler than any software I have seen before, with iPhoto open it detects your digital camera and then reads all photo's off it, from there you can tell it to ignore photo's which you have imported previously (to avoid duplicates), you can set the Event name, click import, and then within a matter of minutes all of your new photos will appear in your library.
There are 2 main types of Albums within iPhoto, "normal" albums whereby you drag & drop pics into them (a bit like a playlist in iTunes), and then smart albums (like smart playlists in iTunes). Smart albums are very good as it allows for you to organise all photo's into a single album automatically, for example you could create an album where all pictures with "Birthday" in the title are included within it, to group together only birthdays. There are also more advanced search options - even down to things like weather or not the flash fired on your camera! Albums are great for when you want a group of similar photos/events together, but do not want to physically combine them.
Despite being primarily focused towards being a photo library, iPhoto also has some basic editing features built in, these include things such as red eye removal, cropping, adjusting lighting/brightness/contrast, straightening, and an "Auto Fix" which attempts to do it all for you. Personally I haven't used these much, since I prefer to keep my pics as they were from the camera, but tools such as straighten are useful for correcting photos.
There is, of course, a Slideshow function built into iPhoto, this allows for you to show your photos off along with some fancy transitions. These work very well, to launch a slideshow you simply click the big button (aptly named, slideshow), and then iPhoto will turn into a full screen mode, allowing for you to set a couple of options (Transition type, time etc.) before letting it do it's stuff. The transitions are very smooth, and look excellent when you connect your computer up to a big screen/projector. In addition to the photo's you can also add in a musical backdrop, and also export the slideshow as a video file.
iPhoto '09 brought 2 major new features; Maps and Faces, I'll explain these below.
"Maps" allows for you to "geotag" your images onto a map identical to what you see in Google Earth/Maps. This is a useful feature as you can the have an overall view of where you have travelled to, and pick out photos from specific locations. I really do like this feature, although think that it's implementation could be improved a little. It seems as though iPhoto contains a local database of your locations (plus a lot of US places), and when tagging a photo you choose a location from your database, if it isn't in there you need to add it first. This often adds an additional step in locating your picture, I would much rather just be able to drop a pin on a map for each photo, with no local database/"favourites" involved. But I can see where Apple are coming from with this, as I suppose it makes it easier to use when not connected to the internet.
For me "Faces" was what made the upgrade from '08 to '09 look worthwhile, iPhoto can now scan through your photos looking for faces of people. This can take a while on your existing library, although when importing new lot's of photos it is pretty much instant. Once all face's have been detected you can then go through each picture putting a name to them, and eventually (here is the clever part) iPhoto will begin to learn who these people are, as a result the process becomes a much simple "tick" to confirm iPhoto has it correct (which it does most of the time, but can get confused with families ... and identical twins too I would assume). Naming all of your photo's can be a bit boring, but once it's done you can then easily locate a picture of a specific person, a nice little feature which I haven't seen before.
In addition to all of the "basic" features of iPhoto you can also print your pics directly from within iPhoto, and in addition to standard 6*4's you can also have them printed on a variety of different media, one of them which I like the look of is the "Photo Book", this allows for you to print your pics into a professional looking book, I haven't actually tried any of these yet, although the products do look good and are reasonably priced, so probably will do so in the future.
I'd recommend iPhoto to anyone on a Mac, the best bit is that it comes free with the iLife suite of apps, so every Mac owner should have it installed (if not check your installation disk)!