Collections: Photo Albums for the Perfectionist in You

While I’m extremely grateful that Apple has slowly but surely been improving their album features in the photo app, I’m definitely not yet satisfied.

As a scenic and production designer, the first part of my job inevitably consists of a lot of visual research. When I first got my iPad, I knew that I had a great new way to present this research, but the photos app just never seemed like a good, professional way in which to showcase pictures.

I embarked on a several month long journey to find a stellar album app, and Collections for iPad was definitely the best that I found. This feature-rich app allows a user to create a fully customizable album for any purpose, and creates a great final product.

Read on to find out whether this could be the solution you’ve been searching for!

Home

When the app first opens up, you’re greeted by all of the albums you’ve created, easily accessible with just a simple touch. You can also view folders, create a new album, delete albums, and even view albums as slideshows. The entire screen is customizable, with options to change the log, title, color, and images.

The Home Screen.

After tweaking the home screen, be sure to move into edit mode, and then it’s time for the most important part – creating your first album!

Be sure the app is in “view mode” not “edit” when passing this device to someone else. This helps prevent those who happen to be a little less technology friendly, from accidentally deleting an album.

Album Basics

First things first, title your album, pick the orientation and get started. There are lots of options for picture sources. Individual photos can be added from the photos collection, but more important are the mass imports. Photos can be uploaded from:

  • Photo Library
  • Your Computer
  • Dropbox
  • Facebook
  • Flickr

A great array of Import options.

Mass imports automatically select a page layout. This can be problematic, but more on that later on. I prefer to import individual photos, so that I have greater control over the look of the page. The first step of this method is to choose a page layout.

The various layouts.

Insert the page of choice. Then, click on the square and add a picture (or video) into the page of blank picture spaces. Once the page of pictures is full, it’s time to start tweaking.

A page pre-edit.

Editing

First thing you must consider is, does the layout work for you? If not, you can always change it. Once the layout is set, here come the editing options. It has the basic image settings, like rotating. If the image doesn’t quite fit in its space you can re-size it using one of the options.

The basic editing page for individual photos.

If you’re like me, photos often need more info. Fortunately, you can add a caption to any picture. Style the text to your choosing with a variety of options.

Text editing options for photo captions.

The pictures sometimes need just a little bit more. If that’s the case, try adding a frame. Again, the frames are very customizable.

Frame options for individual photos.

In addition to changing photos on an individual basis, album settings can also be tweaked. The first step is saving the individual page.

In this app, keeping track of what you can and can’t edit at a certain time can be difficult. Just remember, if in doubt, save. New settings will usually be available after that.

Again, there are a huge variety of options available. The title, folder, background and more can be changed in the general settings. Layouts can be completely changed, and photos can easily be rearranged using the swap button. If it doesn’t look quite right, use layout settings. Batch tools can be used to add text, frames and more. I find the frames option to be my most useful batch setting.

A polished page.

Export

Once the album is perfect, what do you do? Check out the export options.

Export and share menu.

It’s a fairly straight-forward menu. I like the ability to export all of the photos in an album to Flickr, although that’s definitely an option I use more frequently on my iPhone app. I find myself using the save as a PDF/PNG option most frequently, so that I can distribute the album after a design meeting, or to share with family and friends if it’s a personal album.

Thoughts

This app is definitely not flawless. One of the biggest issues is that it can extremely difficult at times to re-size photos to your satisfaction. Often, photos are either cropped unnecessarily in album view, or there are strange open spaces. Another issue, although fairly easily remedied, is that mass imports aren’t very smart. They dump onto a random page layout and often don’t fit.

The flaws - faulty image resizing and mass import problems.

However, I’ve found this app to be extremely helpful. I have used it in many different settings, and it hasn’t let me down. Captions have been extremely helpful, and I love the ability to exert such control over the detail of every look. I love this app, I can be as anal as I want, and I always have something great to show for it.

A page I'm proud to show off.


Summary

An app for creating albums, but not just any old album. This app encompasses a huge array of highly customizable features, allowing for the creation of photo albums that meet any number of advanced specifications.

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