Mylio for Professional and Serious Enthusiast Photographers

Photography  /  Productivity

Just a few of the many covers from over my long career

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Organization is a Business Advantage

I’ve been working as a professional photographer for over forty years. Being able to catalog and keep track of my images has been a major business advantage that’s allowed me to succeed. Although the business of producing pictures has changed, it’s never been more important to know what you have, how to find it, and how to get it to the client.

Some of Daniel J. Cox's many published covers

Just a few of the many covers from over my long career

Let’s face it, photography has always been considered a labor of love. An occupation where buyers think we enjoy our job so much, we don’t need to get paid. For all of us who produce quality work, nothing could be further from the truth. But changing that perception’s not easy. So rather than fight that uphill battle, I organize. With organization comes speed, agility, and the ability to outperform the competition. Organization in my office has always included powerful software.

Keeping Tabs on my Pictures

In 1981, my first year as an official business, I bought a newly developed program called Phototrack. It was an amazing piece of software that allowed me to number, caption and barcode my 35mm transparencies. Anytime I sent photos to an editor or client of any kind, Phototrack was responsible for outputting a contract that kept everybody on the same page. It not only listed which numbered images I had sent but also provided language that put everyone on notice when it came to using, protecting, and purchasing rights to valuable film originals.

Outdoor Photographer Cover

Phototrack helped me keep track of pictures like this

Unfortunately, Phototrack was a DOS program. When Windows came along, Phototrack decided not to join the Windows world and was eventually replaced by a similar but more visual program called Agave. Not long after Agave, the internet was born, and the need to physically send images faded. Which brings me to where I am today: using another piece of software that’s more powerful than all the rest, a program with the funny little name known as Mylio.

Finding a Needle in a Haystack

From 1976 until today I estimate I’ve shot over three million images. Half film. Half digital. Most of my film library is still not digitized, but the approximate 50,000 images that are reside on my Drobo 8D along with the 1.2 million digital files I’ve collected since the demise of film. Having access to those pictures is essential to keeping them alive.

Like most photographers I was once using Lightroom. And even though it was hosted on a Mac Pro 2013 that had 6 cores and 32 gigs of RAM, Lightroom just couldn’t keep up. Scrolling through thumbnails was an exercise in extreme frustration. I knew I had to find something faster, and that’s when Mylio came along.

Depositing your pictures on a hard drive is the film day equivalent of sticking them in a little yellow box and stashing them in a closet. For those who have never shot film, the little yellow box was what our transparencies were delivered in from Kodak. Ok… the next question you probably have is, who’s Kodak? Unlike throwing pictures in a box, Mylio keeps my work from being buried in the past and most importantly ready for the future.

Mylio’s Strength is Speed

Without a doubt, Mylio’s main advantage is speed. Scrolling through 1.2 million pictures is an absolute breeze with the thumbnails popping up instantaneously. I’m never left waiting trying to see the images I’m looking for. Reviewing your pictures at 100% is virtually instantaneous as well. Auto advance and a sticky zoom also contribute to getting things done fast.

Mylio Organizes Everything

Access across Devices

Mylio’s second advantage is the fact you can sync numerous devices – in my case ten – so I can access my originals at anytime, anywhere. Mylio syncs all these devices, not by keeping the originals on the cloud, but by simply using the cloud to access all devices. This is probably the biggest misconception about Mylio. Photographers think it’s a cloud-based archive system. Nothing could be further from the truth. Mylio stores nothing in the cloud. It only uses the cloud to transfer images from device to device. If you do want a cloud option Mylio can sync your pictures to Google Photos, Amazon or other cloud-based storage tools. But for me… I like having control. I accomplish having my own personal cloud by saving my originals on two Drobo 8D’s. Simple, safe and no monthly fees for the nearly 40TBs of data that would choke a horse if I had to pay.

And across the Planet

Another Mylio trick that will absolutely blow your mind is syncing across the world. Not long ago I was in Romania where I shot around 5000 images. Each day I would upload the pictures to Mylio on my laptop. We had very quick Internet service in the hotels. Through the Internet Mylio connected to my Mac Pro in my Montana office some 5400+ miles away. When I got back those same 5000 images were already safely on my Drobos.

Copper-making specialists captured by Dan Cox

A gypsy family that specializes in making copper products

Real World Sales Example

Just imagine you have a client who emails you during the Christmas Holidays while you’re visiting family. That client informs you they’re interested in purchasing image rights if you can just get the picture to them by the next day. Your office is closed. All your help is taking well deserved time off. There is no one in the office or even in town that can help solve this dilemma. Amazingly, this exact scenario happened to me during Christmas of 2018. Not only was I out of the town for three days, but I had left my laptop behind. My plan was to spend time with family and take a break. Thankfully I had my 256 GB iPhone 7 with me that has my entire 1.2 million Mylio photo library on it. I simply connected to my family’s WiFi, selected the image on my phone and asked Mylio to download the original. Within minutes I had the original, and I was able to forward it to the client. I made the deadline and the sale. Anytime, anywhere is the power of Mylio.

All Devices Have this Capability

In our office we have ten devices running Mylio. They include iPhones, iMacs, an iPad and Mac Pro, all of them with access to the same 1.2 million image database. My wife Tanya, who regularly needs photos for promoting our Invitational Photo Tours, can get what she needs at her leisure. Jill, our office manager who deals with editors, agents, and other clients can do the same. Gone are the days where Jill and Tanya would regularly message me asking for a particular image for whatever project they were working on. Our office happens to be using all Apple products, but Mylio works just as well with Windows and Android.

Mylio UI showing synced devices

When I was running Aperture and eventually Lightroom, having to stop what I was doing to go search for an image was a necessary evil. The ability for others to access my photo library has been an absolute game changer. I can’t tell you how much time this saves, but I can assure you it’s massive. I’ve always thought the Aperture and Lightroom model of one person access at a time was a huge, huge time sink. If it’s just you working your library then it’s no big deal. But if you have a partner who’s giving you a hand, you have no idea how much you’ll love Mylio’s multiple access capabilities. Once again, Mylio is anytime, anywhere, to anyone you give access to.

Mylio Supports External Editors

Like everything in life, nothing’s perfect. Hardcore editing of an image is not Mylio’s strong suit. It wasn’t built to replace Photoshop or even the editing tools in Lightroom. That said, I still produce 80% of my edits within Mylio. Pictures that go out to Facebook, Instagram, my blog, or other Social Media. If I have a photo in need of advanced editing tools, I use DXO PhotoLab. External editors are easily accessed via Mylio. I’ve also used Luminar, Photoshop, Pixelmator and others.

Mylio lets you export to other editors

To take an image from Mylio to an external editor, you simply highlight the image, go to the top menu bar, click on Photo and Open With. You can then select the image editor of choice. As mentioned above, I use DXO PhotoLab. If I have numerous pictures, needing extra help from DXO, I first add them to a Mylio Album. Then I go to DXO and create New Project. Next I switch back to Mylio, highlight them all and do an Open With DXO. DXO sees them as a group, adds them to the new project, and you’re ready to batch edit.

A Simplified Mylio Workflow

Admittedly this sounds like a bit of a pain, but I can promise you it took me much longer to write that out than it does to actually do it. When all the images are tweaked to perfection, I then have DXO save the image as a Tiff to Original Folder right next to the original. Save to Original Folder is a key component to working with an external editor. It’s one of the main reasons I work with DXO. Many external editors do not have a Save to Original Folder option. Photoshop does as well as Lightroom. With Save to Original Folder the image goes right back to the spot the original RAW resides. No more having a separate folder for tweaked images that you have forgotten you’ve fixed. Mylio picks it up from DXO Tiff and adds it to the Mylio database. Simple, painless and organized. Without Save to Original Folder you have the added work of finding the saved Tiff, digging around for the original folder and dropping it in. That’s painful!

Mylio showing Original RAW and Tiff

Other Tools You Already Know

Keeping track of your pictures also requires Keywords, Captions, Star Ratings and Flagging. Thankfully most of these things have been standardized, and Mylio is no different.

Star Rating

Like Lightroom and Photoshop, Mylio allows star ratings. In my workflow a 1 star is destined for the Trash Can. 2 stars is a way I mark all our people photos. 3 Stars and up are images with enough quality to make our online searchable database. 4 Stars is special, and 5 Stars is absolutely amazing.

5 star snowy owl

This is a 5 Star image. Female snowy in in flight with spectacled eider. Alaska

Flags

Flags are simply that. Either On or Off. I wished we had a flag option like Lightroom where we could Flag images as a Reject. One star is my work around, but some folks might like to have the 1 Star for other things.

Color Labels

Another common tool that Mylio has adopted is color labels. I don’t use them a great deal, but they’re another way to organize your pictures.

Captioning

Adding who, what, why and where to your images is an essential tool for any database-driven system, and Mylio does this well. All you do is highlight a group of images, type out the caption, click on one of the images and they all get the same caption. I use an external cut and paste tool outside of Mylio called “Copy’em Paste”. This is a great option for keeping a list of captions in category form that saves everything you might want to use later.

Key Wording

Unfortunately, key wording your photos in Mylio is extremely rudimentary. This is one of the biggest needs we have in Mylio. However, Mylio does allow for keywords, and once again I use “Copy’em Paste” to keep a list of consistent, common words I want to recall.

GPS and Mapping

Another Mylio tool that’s become very helpful is the GPS mapping technology. Since much of my work is done working with scientists and wildlife biologists, having a GPS location on the photos can be very helpful. Many scientists appreciate this attention to detail. It’s easiest if your cameras have GPS capabilities built in like the Olympus E-M1X I shoot. If you don’t, there are apps that can connect GPS data to your camera. I’ve also been known to shoot an image with my iPhone to get the location that I can then add to my normal camera’s photos using Mylio. GPS location has been a real asset for my science work.

GPS mapping technology in Mylio

Auto Write to XMP Gives You an Exit Strategy

When I moved from Aperture to Lightroom and eventually to Mylio, one of my biggest headaches was getting all my Metadata from Aperture to the new library. Mylio actually has tools for direct Importing from Aperture, but going forward I’ll never use any program that doesn’t write to XMP sidecar files. XMP files keep track of many things including the captions, keywords, some edits and other tools. Mylio sees the captions and keywords and some Lightroom edits. But the most important feature is the ability to see captions and keywords. I’m not a big stickler about Mylio not recognizing all edits from other programs since I typically Export that image as a tiff. An exported image had all the edits baked in, and Mylio sees them just fine.

I do however feel differently about keywords and captions. Anyone who’s taken the time to produce captions and keywords knows full well the difficulty of this laborious task. I definitely do not want to lose captions and keywords, and thankfully Mylio picks them up perfectly, automatically writing them to an XMP side car file.

Writing all these things to an XMP sidecar file was a major contributor to me giving Mylio a chance. Writing this data to XMP files that other programs can read gave me an exit strategy. I was happy to give Mylio a try knowing I could move on if need be. That was five years ago, maybe more actually, and I’m loving Mylio more every day.

Video

Thankfully, in today’s world of moving pictures, Mylio works relatively well with video. I import and access all my video files, which I’m shooting lots more of these days, with Mylio. Unfortunately, we cannot edit video within Mylio. But double clicking a video takes it out to QuickTime where I can review, trim and export if needed. Although Mylio is not as powerful with video as I would like, it still catalogs my video files as efficiently as my still pictures and gives me access to them for working in Final Cut Pro.

Final Thoughts: Precious Memories & Quality of Life

Having access to my pictures has never been easier thanks to Mylio. All of the examples I’ve given above were based on my needs for making a living. But equally important is the need to keep track of precious memories. Family is important to most of us, and that becomes more obvious the older we get.

Because this blog post was dedicated to the way Mylio helps me in business, I didn’t even mention Mylio’s tools that stop the clock and make me reflect. Facial recognition in Mylio is absolutely mind-boggling. You’ll be stunned at how accurate this tool is. Life events and other organizational tools for personal memories are equally impressive. I use Mylio mostly for business, but it’s the family pictures that frequently draw me in. I call them Mylio Memories. Regularly, while searching for an image I need for business, family photos appear in my million plus library. It’s often impossible to stay on track. Family pictures have a mesmerizing way of making you stop dead in your tracks and dream backwards. When my days in business are done, it’s the family pictures I’ll cherish the most.

Just One More Thing

After writing all of this, I can’t help but wonder why more professionals have not found Mylio. Having access to your pictures is the difference between sales or no sales. As anyone self-employed knows, time is money. The amount of time it took to find pictures the old way was a terrible bottleneck. Mylio has changed all that.

Unfortunately in the world I work in, Natural History, the prices paid for pictures has dropped to almost negligible levels. But there’s still specialities where quick access can be a business advantage. Specialities like events, weddings, commercial, real estate and others. I predict it’s only a matter of time before more professionals finally see the Mylio light and escape their Adobe tunnel vision.