I used to be a pen and paper kind of photographer. That means that a lot of my thoughts, ideas, location picks, designs and whatnot were scattered across countless notebooks. I used to have one dedicated “photo notebook” but it was just never where I wanted it. When I needed to write something down, I reached for the first notebook that I saw and scribbled something down. The problem was that when I needed to see what I wrote, especially out in the field I a) didn’t/never had the same notebook or b) didn’t bring one at all.
So I must admit that it was a long process to adopt and accept Evernote as my medium for holding my photo ideas and whatnot. I will also state that it did take a bit of training to force myself not to revert back to the my notebooks as I do love a good pen and some fine paper. However, the usefulness of Evernote is growing on me and the more that I learn about how to use it, the more that it has become apart of my photography planning and educational workflow.
What is Evernote?
This is the basic question and I am not going to give the same rundown that everyone else has but I will say that it is basically an app that lets you store and organize information across all platforms from your computer to your device. It is how this information is gathered, stored, presented, and organized that makes evernote so great. Not to mention that it is primarily free.
That is the big question here right? Why use this over any of the hundreds of similar apps out there and especially for photography. My personal feeling on this is that there is a reason that we right this stuff down and that is to remember it and to have access to it at a later time. Evernote is a cross platform app that runs on any computer, from any browser, has a chrome app as well as a mac app etc. You get the idea and that is the beauty of it. It is there when you need it and want it. It also take up no more space then your phone, in many cases. Thus having your ideas and the information that you have saved with you at all times is a real plus.
However, there is also the organization of the app which makes it extremely useful. You separate your notes into notebooks which can be further into bundles which help keep your notebooks from getting too general. For example when I first started I had a notebook called “Photography” but I rarely used it. When I researched a little more and found Matt Kloskowski’s post, I further broke down the term and made it 100% more useful. So now I have grouped a series of notebooks called “Photography” These notebooks could be on any topic ranging from locations to ideas.
Pre-shoot prep and ideas are a great way to make sure that you are ready. A lot of the ideas that I have for a shoot get put into a notebook called “photo tips and ideas”. Any information that I need gets clipped into that as well. I find the app “pocket” to works better for clipping web articles but evernote does a better job of organizing but only clips a screen at a time.
Location scouting comes up a lot in these kinds of articles but it really is a useful thing to have. Whether you see the location from the web or are out and about with only your phone, this is a handy tool. Combining images and the gps data from your phone you can get an exact location and it is tagged to the note.
Another thing that I use it for is that if I am shooting a subject that requires me to remember specific details then this is real handy. Think about shooting a series of dishes at a local restaurant and trying to remember all the names, prices, details, etc. Putting the details along with a picture in a note and putting all of that into one notebook for that shoot will help keep all of your information well organized and correct.
This also works well for shooting historical landscapes as well. Take a shot of the sign that gives you the information for that site and add in information found on the net and then you will have all the information for needed that location. I can’t tell you how many times I have shot a location and forgot what the name was or what was so special about it. This definitely helps keep you information and locations somewhat correct.
Both the desktop and app forms of the app are well laid out and easy to get around and use. Creating shortcuts, you can get to frequently used notes a lot faster. There is also “premium” content and whatnot but the free app works quite well and I am not entire sold on the premium content. For a great rundown of both features check here.
There are a ton a apps out there that do the same functions and may have more interesting features but for me evernote works well. While note directly promoted as a photography tool this is certainly a more organized approach to shooting. Having more information at your fingertips without out having to sift through google when you should be shooting anyway is a great asset. Also for those oldtimers like myself who still keep things in notebooks, this sort of bridges the gap in a way. It is also free.
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