Even with its (weak) rear lens and dozens of image editing apps, the iPad isn’t the best work tool for a photographer. The device itself makes poor photos, even the biggest version will quickly fill up with high res images and a workflow that doesn’t include a decent filing system is always going to be a bit poor. But the device, with its big screen and bold colors, is great for looking at photos. It’s great for looking at your own select images and its great, too, for looking at the images of some of the best photographers in the world. It’s no wonder then that the App Store’s Photo and Video category contains apps that allow users to browse the archives of Life Magazine or gawp at the images created by National Geographic photographers. There’s no reason though that you can’t join those top image-makers and put your photos on other people’s iPads.
That wouldn’t just be very cool. It could also bring real benefits. Put your work in front of photography lovers who might include buyers, and you could find that you’re picking up some new commissions and additional photo sales. There are a number of ways you can spread your photos across Apple’s tablets.
Create a Photo Book with Book Creator
Book Creator from Red Jumper isn’t a specific photography app but it might just prove to be an extremely helpful tool for photographers who want others to see their photo collections — and who might even be willing to pay for them.
The app is a simple book creator that turns files into ePub-formatted documents ready to be submitted to the iBookstore. It’s remarkably simple to use: paste images from the iPad onto a page and add text. There’s some design flexibility but it’s mostly restricted to sizing, positioning, font and text colors, although it’s also possible to spread a single image over two pages, while still placing text in a corner.
In short, it’s a very quick and easy way to turn a collection of pre-curated photos into a photography book that can be sold or distributed for free through the iBookstore.
Place Your Travel Images in Fotopedia Heritage
The challenge with a photography book created by Book Creator will be to tell people it’s around, and persuade them to buy it. The advantage of submitting your images to Fotopedia Heritage is that you can be confident it will be downloaded anyway. The app was created by Jean-Marie Huillot, the former CTO at tech firm NeXT and a close associate of Steve Jobs. He calls it the biggest coffee table book in the world.
The app is a growing collection of 25,000 crowdsourced and crowd-curated images of World Heritage sites. Information about each site is drawn from both UNESCO and Wikipedia, while links to TripAdvisor and Maps make it a valuable travel planning tool.
For travel photographers though, the app can also function as a powerful marketing tool. Credit is provided at the bottom of the image which can link to a Flickr page or a profile page that shows more images.
Submitting your images is straightforward and open to anyone but there’s no guarantee that your image will be accepted. Eligibility for placement in the app depends on several stages of curation that include winning votes from the community.
It’s also worth noting that members can submit images that don’t belong to them, provided they carry creative commons licenses. Place a high quality image in your Flickr stream with a creative commons license and there’s a chance that it will reach Fotopedia Heritage, where it will be automatically tagged and placed alongside explanatory text. (Although only about one image in 50 submitted in this way is accepted.) You might not make any money from the app directly — it’s free — but it might help to spread your work to people who appreciate images and might want to see more of your work from far flung places.
Create Your Own Photo App
Fotopedia Heritage has already become a hugely popular place to look at images from around the world but it’s not a reliable way to spread your photos. The most reliable method is to create your own photo app. A number of photographers have done that, offering collections of their photos both as free apps and as products that carry a price tag. Andre Francois’s Caring, for example, is a photo-documentary about medical care in Brazil that includes interviews with the creator and behind-the-scenes shots. The motivation for giving away the app is likely to be the desire to tell people about the good work done by local doctors but there’s little doubt that the photographer comes across as a serious documentary maker with an important piece of work in his portfolio.
Other photographers use the app as a marketing tool in a way that’s a little more obvious. Photographer Simon Stock’s app is also free and intended both to share his images and to show off his work.
Creating apps like these usually requires some form of investment, and the chances of a real return is likely to be pretty small. If you are thinking of making your own photo app though, you could try using the services of MagBooks. They’ll do all the hard work for you, turning up to 200 pages of text and/or photographs, delivered in PDF format, into an iOS app. The photographer gets to set the download price and MagBooks take a 20 percent cut of any sales. With Apple taking another 30 percent, that leaves 50 percent for the photographer.
It’s an easy form of publishing that might work for books with popular themes such as Grischa Shmitz’s Westbank, a travelogue of her journey from Jerusalem to the flashpoint West Bank village of Bilin, but again it will require some marketing for any of those sales to come in.
Alternatively, you can always code your own iPad photo book from scratch yourself. Blurb offers an explanation of how to do that which isn’t too difficult to follow. Or you could always put your pictures on your flash-free website and let leads use their browsers.