3 Reasons Why an iPad is a Smart Investment for Photographers

Custom SLR Contributor

Guest post by Eric Kim


I was always skeptical of apple products. I was a PC user my entire life, and apple products seemed to be overpriced and over hyped pieces of technology. They were only for hipsters or people with way too much money to burn. However recently I purchased an iPad (I spend a lot of time at airports and 15+ hour flights) to kill my boredom but I have found it to be the best thing since sliced bread for my street photography. Sure they don’t come cheap, but here are some reasons how photographers can benefit from investing in an iPad.

1. There Are Great Photo Books Available For It (For Cheap)

Photo books are generally expensive, and shipping can be even more expensive (based on where you live). I love photo books, and hate the weight associated with them. With the new iPad, the retina display is phenomenal. It is sharper than my computer monitor, and makes for looking at photos lovely. It is like looking at a photo with a back-lit illumination at a fancy gallery or exhibition. At the end of the day, I prefer the physicalness of a book and flipping the pages, as well as print quality, but the new iPad is about 80% as good as the “real thing.” For myself in the end, having access to the images and studying the composition and content sits the most important to me. Some recommendations:

  1. Christopher Anderson: Capitolio
  2. Elliott Erwitt: Personal Best
  3. Geoff Dyer: The Ongoing Moment
  4. Carl De Keyzer: Zona

There are still many more photo books that aren’t available yet - but expect many more to be there!

2. It Is Great For Editing

When I say editing, I don’t mean post-processing. I personally don’t do any post-processing on my iPad, I reserve that for my laptop. What I do like the iPad for is choosing my best images (editing down), and sequencing them. In the default “photos” you can choose images from several different folders, and make a new “set” of your images. Based on that, you can remove which images are your weakest shots, and keep your strongest. Then you can change the sequence of the shots in a very organic way (similar to arranging prints on a table). What I do then if working on a project is the following: 1. Dump a load of Jpegs in a single folder on my iPad titled: “project x, v1” 2. I then do my first round of editing by selecting the best shots, then creating a new virtual folder into a set called “project x, v2” 3. I then continue this process several times, until I can edit down a series to my best 15-20 images (usually get down to “version 6” 4. I carry my iPad everywhere I go, and ask people I respect and trust to help critique my versions, and help me further edit down to the final set (as well as help sequencing). 5. I compile my final set on my computer, using my iPad as a reference tool. By editing this way, you always have your photos on-hand to look at. You can edit when bored on the bus, waiting in line, or at the cafe. By looking at your images enough, the photos that aren’t so good you will begin to hate. The photos that are good will raise to the top like oil in water.

3. It Is A Great Way Of Sharing Your Work

As mentioned in the previous point, carrying around an iPad is the most efficient way of carrying around your portfolio. Sure I still prefer looking at prints in the end, but once again, the iPad is about 80% good - and a lot easier, lighter, and more efficient to carry around. The retina display allows maximum clarity of your shots (it is actually sharper than most laptop monitors) and makes it very easy for the viewer to look at the details by easily “zooming in” by pinching the screen. Also by flicking through your albums with a swipe of a finger allows a experience that is much more tactile and hands-on, similar to flipping pages of a book.


Sure, the iPad isn’t cheap. Starting at around $500 US, it is about the same price as most mid-ranged laptops nowadays. And there are also other tablets out there. However if you have the cash to spare, I would highly recommend investing in one. And no need to get the most expensive model, just go for the cheapest wifi-only 16GB if you are on a budget. But if you can, try to get the 32GB model if you like watching movies, listening to music, and playing games as well. What about other tablets out there? They are good for work-related tasks, but the android interface doesn’t even come close to the iOS interface when it comes to sharing and presenting photos. And this isn’t the apple fanboy in me - I own an android smartphone (which is great for work, but sucks for photo and art-related things).


Don’t have $500 to spare? Here are some other ideas: 1. Constantly Look At Free Images Online (Of Good Photography) As a starting point, I recommend checking out all the great work on the Magnum website or on Invisible Photographer Asia. 2. Invest in cheap books There are lots of cheap photo books out there (for around $10 US that you can pick up). Some recommendations are the “Photo File” series. Check out these cheap books below: - Henri Cartier Bresson - Sebastiao Salgado - Magnum Photos - Bill Brandt - Robert Capa - Eilliott Erwitt - Berenice Abbott - W. Eugene Smith Check out my post on “75 Books You Gotta Own” here! 3. Print Out Your Photos To Edit And Carry Them Around With You In A Folder You don’t have to make expensive prints of your photos to edit, just print out cheap 4x6’s (I prefer matte because they don’t smudge with fingerprints) and whenever you have time, constantly flip through them. Start ditching the ones you don’t like. Also have fun editing and sequencing them on a table, and ask your friends to participate as well. Any other tips for photographers with iPads? Share your thoughts and advice in the comments below!

3Reasons Erickim investment iPad photo Photographer photography

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