The kids and I have been watching an old Bill Cosby routine lately — chocolate cake for breakfast. Of course, my favorite part is after Bill has given his kids cake for breakfast and they start singing: “Dad is great, gave us chocolate cake.” I found myself humming the tune after I downloaded and installed Zenfolio’s new iPhone app. It’s a great mobile front-end to one of the best web site services around for photographers. I only wish they had issued it sooner!
As you can see from the main screen below, the app has three basic functions. You can access your previously saved photos from the site. You can access your iPhone camera to take a picture. And you can upload pictures you’ve taken on your iPhone to Zenfolio. Each of those functions seems basic and obvious but each is enhanced with connections to Zenfolio’s existing web services with a few clever extras.
Accessing your existing photos is pretty straightforward. You can navigate through your galleries and collections in typical iPhone fashion. When you open a gallery, all the thumbnails download, which can take a minute or two depending on the number of photos. But the app saves a cache of previously downloaded thumbnails, speeding up the process after you download them once. Individual pictures can viewed with the usual pinch to zoom or emailed or downloaded to the iPhone to use as background wallpaper.
From within this section, you can also access some of the Zenfolio web site’s features, like sending out email invitations to view a gallery, adding or deleting photos from a particular collection and editing metadata like a caption or keywords.
The uploading module lets you chose a previously taken photo from the iPhone’s camera roll or take a new picture. You can add a title, keywords, a caption and apply your existing category tags from the web. You can also set access controls (to prevent an uploaded photo from being viewed by everybody), pick a gallery to upload to and select whether to upload full size or a smaller versions of each photo.
Even better, there’s a button marked “save and upload later” which lets you assemble a queue of photos you want to upload all together. That’s very convenient if, for example, you want to wait until you’re within range of wifi.
The third button, to access your camera, is handy if you want to be able to add photos to your Zenfolio upload queue right after taking them (which means you can also add all your metadata right then, too).
As a final note, I’d just add that while there are many photo sharing sites, including Google’s darn good Picassaweb, Zenfolio is where many serious photographers go to post their work. It has many, many options for displaying and selling photos that make everything look great. Prints come from a great source, Mpix Labs, that provides much higher quality than the average CVS store. There’s a good selection of other printing options, too, from tee shirts to mugs to giant posters. You can easily set up password-protected galleries. You can even use Google Analytics to track visitors to your galleries.
And now that finally we’ve got a great iPhone app, too, Zenfolio is better than ever.