The Mac is a good tool for processing, storing, and displaying pictures.
For pictures I take on my iPhone, I send photos to my Mac using AirDrop. Clicking lets me copy some or all to the Imports album. I used to attach the phone to my Mac with a USB cable, and them use the Photos to import the ones I wanted.
Some people just email their photos to themselves from their camera and save them on the computer using Mail.app, and then import them into whatever photo processing software they use.
I have a Sony Alpha camera that used to send its pictures to my Mac via Wi-Fi, but Sony stopped supporting the software that does this. Now I have to use a Sony to USB cable to mount the camera as a storage device on the Mac, and then launch the Mac Image Capture application (I have a link to it in the Finder sidebar) and then Import photos to the Mac's Pictures folder. From there I can import the files I want into Photos.
For photos from digital cameras, I can plug a camera's CF or SD card into a USB reader and use the Finder to drag the photos to the Pictures folder.
No matter how I move the pictures, I check the photo files on the Mac using Quick Look to make sure they got stored correctly on my Mac's disk, before I delete them from the device.
I have scanned old pictures, both slides and flats, using an Epson 4490 scanner, and had good results. I use the wonderful program VueScan to drive the scanner. It takes time though -- between 5 and 10 minutes per picture. There are many settings and adjustments possible with a scanner, and it takes time to learn how to do a good job.
In the 90s I sent hundreds of slides to Kodak (remember them?) to be scanned onto PhotoCD.
In the 00's, I sent hundreds of slides to ScanCafe.com, who scanned them to disc in India at a low price. That was very satisfactory. ScanCafe now does its scanning in the USA, which should provide faster turnaround. I have also sent many snapshot pictures from my old albums to ScanCafe for scanning to CD.
For all these cases, I then copied the photos from picture disc to my Mac.
Never have only one copy of a file you care about: back it up. Best to have several backup copies in different places.
I have a directory which contains all the original picture files from the camera, in subdirectories named things like Nikon28, Nikon29, etc. When a directory gets near to 650MB, I burn it to CD-R and start a new one, in addition to all other backups I do. If I take a trip and have a lot of pictures that go together, sometimes I will burn a DVD+R or even a DL disc. I save these discs in a box; they should last for a long time. My idea is to have a read-only backup copy before I start changing things. (I took a really great picture in 2001, and while trying out filters in Photoshop, accidentally hit SAVE, and destroyed the original.)
I make original files read-only just after I copy them to my Mac. The idea is that my original should never be changed.. always work on a copy, so if I screw up or change my mind, I can recover.
When you get your pictures onto your Mac, you will want to do a few things.
(If you are displaying pictures on a Web site, you may discover that images look blurry on high DPI displays unless you use more pixels; the linked article describes how to do this.)
Adobe Photoshop is the most powerful tool for working on photo images, but it's expensive. I bought Affinity Photo 2 as an alternative to Adobe Photoshop, and Affinity Designer 2 as an alternative to Illustrator. These products work well for me, and are less expensive than an Adobe subscription.
I wrote a cookbook for preparing photos for the Web using Affinity Photo. I am still learning how to do this well.
The Photos app on Mac or iPhone is an alternative way to prepare pictures for display. Here are the steps I take on almost every photo. (Look at the picture as you go, and undo anything that makes it worse.)
Here is a good article by Adam Engst on photo sharing services. Thoughts on Sharing Vacation Photos.
There are many web services that allow you to share pictures on the World Wide Web. Here are some choices you have to make:
Web photo services come and go. I know people who put their photos on a "free" service that later started charging for storage, or shut down completely.
Here are a couple of sites: search the web for more.
When I started keeping online photo galleries in the 90s, there were few choices, so I built my own gallery generator. I have a private area on my website that needs a password to enter. (Strangers, and Google, can't look at my pictures, so my friends don't need to worry that their picture will end up on a billboard advertising something.)
My site has over 80 galleries containing over 7000 pictures. For each picture I add, I make an entry in a text file with a caption and the filename, and copy the photo to a web directory. Then I run programs to generate web index files and thumbnails on my personal computer, and check them before I push the web index files and the photos to the private site. This setup means that I have to update my tools when browser or web technology changes. On the other hand, I control the privacy of the pictures and can improve the site whenever I want.
I set up our living room computer, a Mac Mini, to show photos at random in the screensaver from a large collection. I use Photos to manage the picture library. I copy images into the Apple Photos app for display on the Mac.
On the living room computer, I have thousands of pictures in the Photos application. For each picture I add, I edit and straighten and crop it if necessary. Since the display is an HD TV, I try cropping landscape photos to 16:9 if the picture can stand that: doing so will eliminate black space at the sides or top of the screen. Then I follow the steps described above to improve what I can.
I add pictures to a Photos album called "screen" if they should be in the random screensaver.
(I have set up a $200 Raspberry Pi computer to do the same thing: random photos, random music tracks. I think you could do all of this with a Windows machine, haven't tried.)
Photos continues to improve with each macOS release, but still does some functions in idiosyncratic and undocumented ways.
Here are a few bugs that bother me.
Photos appears to try to do face recognition and geolocation assignment to my photos in the background when the app is not running. I have seen processes in Activity Monitor that seem to be doing this, but never found any explanation of how it works or when. I don't know if they are sending my data to Apple. The face recognition is often wrong, and the interface to it is comically bad:
In Photos, there are two ways to display a slide show of a group of pictures: you can right-click on a folder name and select "Play Slideshow", or you can selectwhich will create a "Project". Folder slideshows play music during the slide show, and there is no button to turn the music off or control inter-slide timing. You can turn the music off for a project slideshow, by clicking a music-note icon on the project, and hovering the mouse over the selected music until an invisible button with an X becomes visible, and clicking it.
Photos 8.0 in Ventura is unable to generate slideshows. It says I don't have an Internet connection. I do though. My theory is that some photo file is damaged, and Photos crashes trying to open it, and prints a mistaken error message.
Photos taken with a phone are sometimes tagged with a geographic location: Photos uses GPS data if a photo has it. Some photos that were taken way before the invention of GPS have locations assigned also: I can't find any explanation of how it does this. It appears that the locations were obtained from other people's photos of the same subject. Also, there are many different names given to the same place: for example, 14 photos taken the same day were labeled "E 9th St" (no city indicated) when they were taken at many different streets, none at 9th St. Why be so specific with wrong data?
For operations in Photos that take a while to complete, such as usingto export pictures, there is a very tiny progress indicator, different from the progress indicators of all other Mac apps.
Photos has exhibited picture corruption issues on my Mac Mini: sometimes a rectangular selection of an edited picture is replaced by garbage or a black box. The original is undamaged. I have seen this in Sierra, High Sierra, and Mojave. (Cannot run Ventura on my Mini.) Re-editing the photo and re-saving it fixes it. It may be because of a hardware problem with the graphics chip on my 2012 Mac Mini. Others have seen this problem but there has been no resolution, and no acknowledgement from Apple.
In OS X El Capitan, the ability to add "extensions" to Photos was provided, and there are some available in the App Store. A few things I would really like:
Apple has a product called iCloud Photos. Here is how I employ it.
Things I don't know about yet.
A sad story in MacInTouch by a user who created a new empty library and then marked it "Use As System Library." They thought this would download all their photos from iCloud. Instead, it deleted all the photos from their iCloud library and then synced the empty library to all their other Macs. They lost over 5000 pictures and had no backup. They had no local copies because they had turned on "Optimize Storage."
In the old days, I took a lot of pictures, and put them in albums that sat on a shelf, and very rarely looked at them again. Now I set the living room TV to show pictures at random, from thousands of travel and family photos, by connecting the TV to a computer. (I think an AppleTV could do the same sort of thing.)
Currently I view my Mac photos via the photo Screen Saver. I use the "classic" saver on the Mac. I set it to display pictures from the Photos folder "screen", and drag screensaver-worthy pictures into that folder in Photos. Since my Mini is so old that it cannot run Mojave or later versions of macOS, if I want to go back to review a picture, the left and right arrow keys on the keyboard will sequence through the Screen Saver display. (I also changed /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/Slideshows.framework/Versions/A/Resources/Content/EffectDescriptions.plist in macOS to make the pictures stay up more than 5 seconds.)
If I ever get a new Mini that can run a post-High-Sierra version of the OS, the arrow keys will no longer work, and the Screen Saver duration patch will be different if it is possible at all.
I experimented with a third party screen saver, "ArtSaver" by Gabriel Zachmann. I tried it out on the Mini running High Sierra. It has some nice features:
ArtSaver can display the geolocation for pictures, but many of my old photos don't have that data, and the photos that do have it often say just "United States" or have crazy mixed languages, like "Venezia, Italy"/ I think I will copy the files for screensaver display to a new directory, strip out the GPS data entirely (using exiftool), and add captions that actually say what I know about the photo. Gabriel was very helpful in teaching me how to use his program. ArtSaver can run as an official screen saver, so it can lock the screen, but using it this way means it cannot obey the arrow keys or hot corners.
Sometimes you want to actually print a photo and hang it on the wall. This is a vast subject and I have just begun to learn how to do it well. I have been satisfied by prints I had made at FedEx Kinkos and Bay Photo.
I have been very pleased with prints on metal made at bayphoto.com https://www.bayphoto.com/. Just go their website and you can upload your pictures and place an order. I have made them sizes like 16x24 inches, and chose "MetalPrint" with "Performance EXT metal - high gloss." I asked for rounded corners and float mount hangers. These photos stand up to outdoor use, sun and rain. I take them inside in the winter.
For indoor use, I have prepared photo files for printing, copied them onto a flash drive, and taken them to Kinko's and make "poster prints." Here are the preparation steps I take:
Pretty big pictures are not too expensive.
One thing I have not gotten into is shooting in RAW format. This makes bigger disk files but would mean I could adjust a lot of things like white balance later. The real experts, who spend a lot of time making their pictures perfect, shoot RAW. It is especially important for photos that will be printed on paper.