Fotonauts: A Smooth Piece Of The Photography Puzzle

As the creator of my own personal photography and blog website for over ten years that publishes new photographs on a weekly basis, I have experimented with many tools, none of which serve my purpose with ease.

Roughly 50 million semipro camera users (including DSLR and semipro hybrids, growing at a rapid pace) are just like me and cherish no less than 25 Billion photographs per year that they seek to publish and share. A nice big opportunity of which Fotonauts (now Fotopedia) aims to capture a piece.

Complicated independent workflows
As one of those semipro users, I keep my photographs in my file-system (where no vendor can lock my thousands of photographs in), use LightZone to edit, Rapidweaver for web authoring with embedded HTML photo libraries created by JetPhoto Studio. That whole process takes quite a few steps and is not for the faint at heart. Rapidweaver is not great at managing lots of photographs and JetPhoto lacks the web authoring capabilities to become more than a companion to a photographic workflow. That seems to be indicative of many of the technology solutions in the digital photography arena, that is littered with hundreds of fragmented software and services tools in which none provide full support for the complete photography workflow.

Smooth operator
Fotonauts is an improvement in terms of its ability to create an instant (while you work) and good-looking web site with some powerful social media capabilities that promise to increase traffic to your photographs. It blends offline and online capabilities (in which it cleverly avoids recreating the strategically flawed asset management repositories of both Apple, Adobe, and others) and live-to-the-web authoring with superb smoothness, even in this beta version.

Web pages created by fotonauts can incorporate photographs from offline repositories such as the file-system and proprietary iPhoto, Aperture and Lightroom photo databases, and fotonauts can also tap directly into online photo libraries at Yahoo! Flickr, Facebook and Google’s Picasa. The technology promise is sound, as can be expected from former Apple developers.

More fragmentation
But Fotonauts does not erase the complicated digital photography puzzle that aims to reduce complexity for the semipros or professionals, nor does it seem to target amateurs that care less about optimizing traffic through viral capabilities. For semipros, it does not contain any white-labeling options nor a way to make images available for sale. The uniform layout applied to all albums is slick but off-putting to photographers who want to create their own brand and separate themselves from the pack.

The fragmented state of the current photography technology reminds me of the state of MP3 music before Apple introduced a better player (mobile and desktop), a store, and the availability of premium content all wrapped in a single compelling user experience. In photography that is an opportunity too large and too complicated for VCs to understand and can only be captured by an established company with the vision and the financial wherewithal to wrap its arms around the complete photography experience. It is time for the photography puzzle to become whole.

Until then, Fotonauts is a smooth and beautiful new piece.

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