Choosing Image Management Software for Food Photography - dummies

Choosing Image Management Software for Food Photography

By Alison Parks-Whitfield

In food photography, you need image management software to help you identify and organize your best photos. When choosing an application to manage your photos, you want to look at a few important features — ease of use, pricing, off-site image access, and integration.

The two main software choices are Adobe Lightroom and Apple Aperture, but you can also choose from several other options to handle your photos. Make sure whatever program you choose is comfortable, fits in with your work style, and manages the image-handling basics well.

Ease of use

One of the first criteria to look at when deciding what photo management program to use is whether it’s easy to navigate. Before purchasing new software, first try it out to make sure you’re comfortable with its user interface (or UI) and its look and feel.

Many photographers are keen on the Apple Aperture UI. Word on the street is that Aperture is a little more intuitive than other choices, and photographers love the iCloud backup scheme, among other features.

But many others are more comfortable working in the Adobe Lightroom software environment because they like the way the tools and viewer are organized. Lightroom’s simple export-to-sharing-sites feature is also a big plus.

The software you decide on is a personal choice based on how well the software fits with your work style and your image management needs.


Both Apple Aperture and Adobe Lightroom, the two main photo management programs, run about $150 or so. You can find several other photo management programs that are a bit slimmer on features — okay a lot slimmer on features — but they’re either free or pretty cheap.

If you decide not to use Lightroom or Aperture to manage your photos, other free or inexpensive software options include the following:

  • On the Mac side, you can use iPhoto to organize your images, which you can purchase separately for only $14.99. You won’t get many of the bells and whistles of the more popular programs, but it may be a good starter program for some folks.

  • On the PC side, you can use the Windows Photo Gallery, which is similar to iPhoto. Again, this software is very limited, but some folks are more comfortable with how it works for them. Windows Photo Gallery is a free download for Windows users.

  • Picasa software, available from Google, is another great option for organizing, editing, and sharing your photos. It’s free and works for both Macs and PCs.

Off-site image access

One advantage that Aperture has over Lightroom is that it allows you to store and access your images from an external drive. This feature can be a huge benefit if you have thousands and thousands of photos and limited disk space on your computer.


Because Adobe Photoshop is the main application of choice for photographers, making sure your image management software works well with Photoshop is another important feature to consider when choosing a program. This integration should be pretty seamless to help with your workflow.

Apple Aperture and Adobe Lightroom both work well with Photoshop, although Lightroom gets the higher marks, which makes sense because it’s also an Adobe product and is seamlessly integrated with Photoshop.