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The Future of ApertureExpert.com—The Question

PhotoJoseph's picture
July 3, 2014 - 12:00pm

Greetings faithful readers,

As you of course know by now, Aperture will see no further development, clearing the way for Apple's next big thing, the universal Photos app. If you've been following along here, you know I'm very optimistic about what's coming. Unfortunately, that's at best 9 months away.

Unsurprisingly, sales dropped to near zero on this site the moment the announcement was made. I've even had requests for refunds. That's bad news :-)

As you have probably noticed, this site has NO outside advertising. Every “ad” is a house-ad, promoting content either on this site, or on lynda.com where I have additional training. Personally, I hate non-relevant ads popping up on sites I visit regularly. (Especially since they are usually advertising something I already bought!) Since I have designed this site to be one that I personally want to use, I made the decision long ago to fund the site solely by sales of content. It's a good model that's proven very effective…

  1. Give away lots of free information — very specific, very targeted information on Aperture and it's supporting systems.
  2. Provide a free platform for users to seek support from one another.
  3. Provide advanced training (and presets, add-ons, etc.) for sale to fund one and two.

I have no intention of changing this model.

However, given that Aperture will be developed no longer, needless to say we can't just talk about Aperture anymore. We will continue to discuss Aperture for as long as Apple is supporting it, which means at minimum through the end of Mac OS X Yosemite's lifespan, but with no new features coming, and with third party development for Aperture add-ons undoubtedly also coming to a halt, what we do have to say is minimal.

So, I need a new topic

The obvious choice is to start supporting Photos.app. That is a given. However Photos won't be shipping until “early 2015”, which is at least nine months away. This site can't survive for nine months with no sales. Plus, if Photos is a really simple product when it comes out of the gate, there may not be much training needed. 

Another option is to start discussing other related products and topics. However I'm not a Lightroom expert, Capture One expert, or an expert on any other keystone app. And frankly, competing with Kelby and the likes for Adobe training market share doesn't seem like a clever idea. I know I could do well enough in it, as alternate perspectives and training styles are always appreciated, however I wouldn't be entering the market with guns blazing.

Two Paths

I see two viable paths. Neither one is easy, and this is where you come in. I'm not saying I'll go with popular consensus here, but I definitely would appreciate your opinions and input in guiding me towards the right decision.

Option 1: ThePhotosExpert.com

This is the more obvious choice. I don't need to change much in the site other than the name (eventually), and once Photos is shipping, I can pick up essentially where I left off. There are of course advantages and disadvantages of this model.

Advantages

  • The site maintains focus on a single product/ecosystem. I believe that focus is important on a website where revenue is driven by product sales. (If revenue was driven by ads, then all that would matter is page views). People buy from ApertureExpert.com because they trust that the information provided is of high quality, and they trust this because they see plenty of free high quality content on the exact same topic.
  • As the Photos.app user base grows, this site stands to be the #1 site on the web for Photos users, as it currently is the #1 site on the web for Aperture users. And the user base will grow, because every iPhoto user will become a Photos user. That's potentially a lot of new people.

Disadvantages

  • It'll be nine months minimum before we see Photos.app. That's a long time to sit idly waiting for a new product to talk about. And there's no guarantee that we'll see it in nine months, either.
  • We already know that Photos.app version 1.0 will have fewer features than Aperture does today. So that's fewer things to talk about and make sellable training for.
  • The ramp-up of third party apps that tie into Photos (i.e. plug-ins) could be slow as well. We have no idea when we'll see all the additional Photos.app-connected software that I could also provide training and support on.
  • Photos could be so easy to use that no one feels they need paid training.

Option 2: ThePhotographersExpert.com

This is a much, much bigger option. Instead of focusing on a single product/ecosystem, I take the site in the other direction and open it to all photo-related software. Not just Lightroom, but every other solution out there. Everything a photographer needs. The site could at first focus on the main alternate apps, grow into covering all supporting actors, and eventually even expand to anything photo related. Cameras. Bags. Photography training. Workshops. 

Advantages

  • The sky is the limit. I can immediately jump into Lightroom training, and rapidly add other topics, including Photos.app when it ships.
  • There's no waiting period. The market is there today. And it's a huge, growing market.
  • I could “bring along” the current Aperture users who decide to make the move to Lightroom. Teach them as I learn the app myself. 

Disadvantages

  • I'm not an expert on Lightroom or any other keystone app. So, I need to get up to speed, and hire people who already are.
  • The site would be competing with folks like Kelby, who have direct relationships with Adobe and a massive built-in audience, undoubtedly much larger than mine.
  • The market is over saturated with Lightroom and Photoshop training (not sure about the other apps, but there's at least one easy reason that ApertureExpert is #1 — virtually no competition). I'd be the little fish, at least to start.
  • I can't imagine quality staying as high as it is today. The site would have to become an information factory. That isn't inherently a bad thing, but finding quality trainers isn't trivial. And I'd need a lot of them.

What am I personally going to do?

As you all know I'm a working professional photographer as well. I shoot mostly commercial and portrait work in my studio in Ashland, Oregon, and use Aperture every day. I need a professional solution, too. So what am I going to do?

My intention is to continue using Aperture, and eventually migrate to Photos.app when the time is right. I seriously doubt that'll be 1.0, but I also expect that I'll start a second library, perhaps for personal or casual work, in Photos, and keep all my client work in Aperture until ready.

I will however be learning Lightroom in the interim. Why? See below…

The interim

One thing is for certain — a lot of Aperture users are going to transition to Lightroom. And for many that will be the right choice to make. I'm not going to try to convince people to stay or to switch, but instead will provide information and assistance in the quality and style that you've come to know from this site to help people decide, and then potentially make the transition.

I expect to have a solid announcement and plan to share by next week. It is my intention to develop a complete and very detailed “Aperture to Lightroom Transition Guide” for those who want to take that route. I will not be creating this in a vacuum, and I am already making business alignments to ensure it's the best guide it can possibly be. I will sell it, because it will be robust and complete and expensive to produce. And I will not promise that it'll be easy, or fun, to do. This is going to be a pain in the ass. 

Support the site today

What can you do in the interim? Firstly, let me know your thoughts on options one and two above (or offer a third and fourth!). I do want to hear from you, and again I don't promise I'll go with the majority decision, but all views are helpful and valid. I feel like I need to spend a weekend in the dessert staring at lizards or something to clear my head and make the right choice. :-)

Second, if you have gained from this site, and want to see it still online a year from now, you can make a financial contribution. With sales approaching $zero the site won't even pay for itself soon. And I'd like to make a buck or two myself, ya'know? So if you're feeling inclined, feeling generous, or just want to say thanks with the hope that we'll stay online, I would certainly appreciate it.

Sparks Lake, Oregon—because at times like this, you need something pretty to look at
Author:
PhotoJoseph

I agree with Jim Van Cura,

I think it is the best way to go. ThePhotosExpert.com is exactly what you need,

Photos will be new name of the app and you can also go with other software like Capture One, Pixelmator etc.

I personally don’t like robust Adobe product (Photoshop and Lightroom), there are not very easy, clean and “fun” to use.

Also the courses for Lightroom are not for entusiastic photographers. It is like Windows, to complicated, not fun:-)

 

Stanislav

I agree with Jim Van Cura,

I think it is the best way to go. ThePhotosExpert.com is exactly what you need,

Photos will be new name of the app and you can also go with other software like Capture One, Pixelmator etc.

I personally don’t like robust Adobe product (Photoshop and Lightroom), there are not very easy, clean and “fun” to use.

Also the courses for Lightroom are not for entusiastic photographers. It is like Windows, to complicated, not fun:-)

 

Stanislav

One last comment from me - I notice that the Pixelmator blog site is talking about creating a new piece of software as an Aperture-like companion to their great existing stuff. They are even asking for suggestions for the kinds of tools it should include.

My point? I think we will not only have Photos to look at but several exciting new alternatives - some from the usual suspects and some from new developers excited about the tools built into the OS and the simplicity of accessing them.

Exciting times indeed!

Yes, I saw that as well on the Pixelmator site. Very cool … I think 2015 is going to be a very interesting year!

I have used and enjoyed your site for the past several years. My only suggestion is to take a serious look at Capture One. Thanks for every thing so far and I wish you best in whatever you choose to do.

My 2 cents: option 1 definitely. So many reasons already covered so won’t repeat them. I do have the opinion that trying to run 2 sites even for short term will not benefit you in time, cost and, potentially, quality especially as you are already a busy working photographer.

I do like the ideas presented by Sanders, Decker and Rowe to branch out into the IOS, 3rd party plug-ins and so on. Seems to tie in with what we initially know about the coming Photos.

A little tongue in cheek but how about JoesPhotosExpert? It is your research and quality insights (with supporting columns) at the forefront…

Steve Hadeen

…or JosephsPhotosExpert if Joe is an unmentionable-heh heh

Steve Hadeen

I would like to echo so many of the previous commenters.  I have loved your site for a long time and learned so much and also look at it every few days for some new tidbit (even the ones that I already know or don’t really apply to me!)    I personally would like to see it stay within the Apple ecosystem as this has become a trusted site for me to learn and expand as a more advanced user (now).  What I like about the Apple ecosystem the most is the ability for all things to talk together with relative ease, and mobility has always been a top priority for me.  The discussion on Photos has had me cautiously optimistic about the ability now to switch between macbook and iMac with even greater ease, utilize more advanced plug-ins more effectively, and if iPad and iPhone are easier now too with an easier method with Raw photos, etc. , then I am all for learning that too.  But what would keep me coming back to your site, is you helping with those tips and tricks of this new apple future.  If it doesn’t pan out like we all hope, then reevaluate at that point.  Of course that’s easier for all of us to say, in the meantime I will be making a donation.  Maybe a few slightly off topic tidbits in the meantime will help without hurting your brand.  Perhaps topics like Nik plug ins or other plug In’s, but more from the perspective of the background of an aperture user.  Some info, and your take, could be helpful to our general knowledge, and theoretical help when Photo’s does come out even if the sliders or process are not the exact same.    It’s also early yet, and given the timing of the WWDC to the announcement Aperture is no longer supported, perhaps in another week or month more things will become clear.   We can wish :)

 

AArmstrong

You do such a great job with AE that you will land on your feet.

I use Aperture, Lightroom, DxO, and Capture One. IMHO, AP and LR end up with about the same results- a bit mushy at times, especially after brushes are applied. Ap has such a great library system and forgiveness (idiot proof), that I go to it most of the time. I have been trying to create a workflow that let’s me use all 4 apps with referenced files, but it’s not easy. You could spend a LARGE amount of time on the ways the LR library can go south. Not because of LR itself, but because of the level of user understanding required. It’s REAL easy to hose / lose the originals, especially going between laptops and desktops. And keeping custom presets consistent between machines requires keeping your head screwed on right.

That said, I suppose LR, DxO and CapOne need to be cross platform, so that inherently craps up the library structure. All hail Aperture…

DxO does a great job on many images “out of the box”; when they are good, they are REALLY good! Easy auto optimization tools. But gradients and brushes require a trip to something else; ditto with printing (it’s pretty weak).

Capture One produces stunning results, especially with skin tones. Steep learning curve, but if you get it, it’s great.

If I had to pick one (or two), I’d do Photos (given) and Capture One. Both ends of the spectrum. Maybe a layover at moving AP to one of the other three? To me, LR is saturated, and Adobe has every desire to keep it that way. In addition, they are trying to sell PS, so that mucks up the water. I use NIK, PS and the rest, but round trip time is a drag.

Best…

-Bob

Yeah, DxO is kind of a one-trick pony. But it’s a REALLY great trick! I certainly wouldn’t choose DxO for anything other than RAW development and lens-correction. But, I’ve wrung more “quality” out of my Nikon 12MP D3s files and older Nikkor glass using DxO than I had ever imagined possible–the difference obtained using a DxO-profiled lens vs. a non-profiled lens is dramatic.

I use Aperture for 99% of my stuff out of sheer convenience, but for special images, I’ll turn to DxO. My poor, neglected AF Nikkor 14mm f/2.8D ultra-wide prime finally received its own DxO profile just a few months ago (DxO only had a profile for the 14-24mm previously), and my old D3s-shot, 14mm f/2.8D files improved significantly when using the new correction profile:

Nikon D3s + AF Nikkor 14mm f/2.8D DxO profile using DxO default RAW settings.

Hi Joseph,

Here are my thoughts and recommendations for you to consider.  I am new to your lectures, as i just discovered them about a month ago.  I have purchased and downloaded your Life Training Complete (Sessions 001 - 025), and have just started going through them.  I happen to be a former college professor in geophysics.  Because of this I very much appreciate your in-depth teaching style in which you present lots of details so that people gain a good understanding of the subject matter.  That style of teaching is the same as mine, and is common in the sciences.  In photography I pretty much work at the professional level, with an emphasis on travel photography.  I would like to make the following points for you to consider:

(1)  It seems to me that Apple has too much to lose by abandoning advanced amateur or professional photographers.  Choosing to use Aperture, or its replacement, is a very good reason for needing to buy a Mac computer.  With your connections with Apple I think that you would have learned if they planned to only develop a consumer photographic editing program in the future.  Further, I see no hard evidence that this is going to happen.  I expect a professional image editing program to replace Aperture.

(2)  Aperture is a great program that will likely be supported by Apple for another 2 years or longer.  So why would I want to switch to a different program now?  That makes no sense to me.  When the first version of Photos is released I would likely continue to use Aperture and switch to the newer program when I am ready.

(3)  Aperture should not be your main focus in the future.  From a teaching perspective I think that your emphasis should be on the science of photo editing.  The important subjects should include histograms, white balance, exposure, highlights and shadows, curves, color, and the rest of the “bricks” needed to produce great images.  You should use Aperture to illustrate the editing techniques.  But Aperture is just one program that ties all of these concepts together in a particular workflow.

(4)  In addition to teaching the science of photo editing I recommend that you also teach us how to use the important plugins that work in Aperture.  In the case of the NIK suite of programs there are Google videos.  But I am sure that you can present the plugins from your perspective in the way that you use them.  Further, in addition to teaching us how to use the particular programs, like Color Efex Pro, you can teach us how to combine the different suite of Google plugins in editing images.  In what order should they be used?  What is the best workflow?  These are questions that you can answer.  What other plugins can you teach us to use?

(5)  I personally do not recommend that you present a plan for moving from Aperture to Lightroom.  Adobe doe not need any help.

(6)  I clearly am recommending your Option 1.  I hope that you will stay the course in what you have been doing.  It does not matter what the name of the program is.  Continue to teach us the basics of photo editing.

J Ernest “Sunny” Breeding Jr

I agree that many AE visitors would benefit (I know that certainly would), from tutorials on future Yosemite/Photos-compatible plug-ins. That could be a very useful addition to the future AE, and perhaps also a good niche-market to cater to (although, since Photos will ubiquitous to every new Mac, it won’t be so niche anymore).

Joseph, Thank you so much for keeping us up to date on Aperture. I also use BackBlaze as a result of your newsletters.

I will contribute to all of your efforts, but your knowledge far exceeds mine, so I’ll contribute financially.

Britain

Britain

Joseph, Thank you so much for keeping us up to date on Aperture. I also use BackBlaze as a result of your newsletters.

I will contribute to all of your efforts, but your knowledge far exceeds mine, so I’ll contribute financially.

Britain

Britain

The range and depth of expertise and knowledge shown in the recent discussions should be noticed by Apple in their steps forward in this expanding marketplace.   We cannot know what is in store for us, and our needs vary widely, but Joseph and his followers represent a large group that should not be ignored.

 I feel that I represent a portion of Aperture users that are happier using our cameras in a non (or part time)  professional way and not toiling over a computer.    We are happy to delegate a portion of the computer tasks involved and  appreciate the service that Joseph offers to help us with that.  

We can help to support this awesome site by utilizing the services offered,  tutorials, one to one assistance,  and as libraries grow,   engage him to do some of our library clean-up and maintenance.

I am happy to hook my wagon to Joseph’s plan, however that may evolve,  and having a super clean library will definitely help.

 

Keith Merrick

I’m just a Baby Boomer enthusiast, using mostly my iPhone right now. I started with Macs in 2007, got into iPhoto, and finally made the move to Aperture about 3-4 years ago. I’m very happy with it and have over 100,000 photos in 2 managed libraries (many are older scanned photos from the film days). I rarely have problems, but when I do I find the answers here. It’s your training, Joseph, that got me up and running quickly. Thank you very much! I have no desire to move to a non-Apple photo management app like Lightroom even though I do use Photoshop for Digital Scrapbooking, so I will hang in there with Aperture and give Photos a try when it’s released. I feel more excited now after reading the positive posts about the new Photos app than I felt when I first heard about Aperture no longer being supported. I enjoy change most of the time, but am grateful for the experts like you who help me understand new apps/software. I do understand how much more difficult this change is for the professional photographers here, and sympathize with all of you. Personally though, I’d like to see you, Joseph, continue to focus on Apple photo products mainly (ThePhotosExpert.com) and other products secondarily. I’m going to think positive thoughts while we wait it out. Good luck to everyone! :)

~Debbie

I come down on the side of the ApplePhotographer, or alternatively Photos+

The rationale is that I doubt you have the bandwidth to do two sites of the quality that you’d like, and although Photos will probably be a sufficiently capable by 2016 or 2017, it’s unlikely  that it will fully replace Aperture in the first release.

Photos+ would give you a way to give in depth information on Photos and one or two specific use cases that it doesn’t cover. You get to pick the use cases from what you personally need or find interesting – likely you won’t be the only one with those needs, but you won’t be compelled to hit 100% of the use cases either.

So if Photos and Lightroom is your best solution for 2015, you can share it while still being able to drop Lightroom if that makes sense for 2017.

Thanks for all your detailed information over the years, it’s been a tremendous help.

 

I vote for going with “thephotosexpert.com” and I don’t think you have to wait as long as you think to start posting articles. “Photos” is coming to IOS and IOS is getting more powerful and more relevant for photographers every year. There will be plenty of stuff to write about and plenty of people who will be looking for information that go beyond the basics and allow us to use iPads and such as serious photography tools.

short & sweet from rishio

Joseph,

It would seem that Apple has put you in a bad position. By announcing the impending demise of Aperture, they have killed your current business, but by not providing enough information about Photos.app, it is impossible to know with any certainty if it will be robust enough to meet the needs of professional photographers.

On the other hand, Apple may have put you in a fantastic position. If you go down the ThePhotosExpert.com road, you stand to gain a customer base unimaginable when you were catering pretty much exclusively to professional photographers. Yeah, you might not want to condescend to dealing with the unwashed masses, but the retail potential for you here is enormous.

When I Google search for “iPhoto tutorial” or “iPhoto training” I get a lot of generic website hits, such as Lynda.com. Some of the responses are OSX specific or photography-related, but none of the top responses are really iPhoto experts or specialists. However, when you search “Aperture tutorial” ApertureExpert.com is the 10th organic response and it is the 5th and 6th organic response for “Aperture training.”

I really think you could leverage your existing customer base, community and traffic into the Internet’s most visible Photos.app expert information site. Don’t abandon your pro base, of course, but the influx of casual photographers could keep the lights on for a long, long time and might even provide the revenue for you to develop even more pro resources than you have been able to do up to now.

You may have to tighten your belt and limp along for a few months, but I think your future is very bright with ThePhotosExpert.com.

I hope to see ThePhotosExpert.com come alive. There are plenty of sites out there for general photography information, and certainly for Adobe products, but I cherish sites like yours that focus on my Apple platform and software. I also expect to continue to use Aperture as long as possible and eventually transition to Photos if necessary, avoiding Adobe products along the way.

Michael L. Roberts
InFocus Photography
Merritt Island, FL 32952
InFocus@cfl.rr.com

I hope to see ThePhotosExpert.com come alive. There are plenty of sites out there for general photography information, and certainly for Adobe products, but I cherish sites like yours that focus on my Apple platform and software. I also expect to continue to use Aperture as long as possible and eventually transition to Photos if necessary, avoiding Adobe products along the way.

Michael L. Roberts
InFocus Photography
Merritt Island, FL 32952
InFocus@cfl.rr.com

Joseph,

I have just bought Capture One Pro 8 (for Sony) and they have a youTube video on the process of converting from Aperture. This can be expensive if the full application is considered, but I also have your application that aids in the conversion to Lightroom, which is a less expensive option. As an older man, I am having more difficulty digging into the documentation than I did when I was  younger. I find your videos both complete and  helpful. Can you continue to do this in some limited way to help me and others begin to understand this new documentation and overcome the initial barrier to deciding which is better?

Thank you

Chuck

Chuck Olive

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