How I Use Evernote For Photography

About a year ago I started using a program called Evernote. One year later, I’m hooked. It’s infused into every device in my life, and so much of the content that I work on everyday touches Evernote in some way or another. Although, I use it for many things relating to work, I do have some photograph-specific things I do with it that I thought I’d share.

What Is Evernote?
Evernote is simple. It’s a place where you capture everything. I mean everything. Links, articles, pictures, to-do’s, reminders, lists… you name it. It’s got an easy search function, so you’re really just a few clicks away from the info that you need. It’s available on just about any device you can think of. Plus, it syncs between all of them so everything is always up to date.

How’s It Work?
It’s really simple. You create things called Notes. A note is exactly what you think it is. It’s like a post-it note, but digital. You organize Notes in Notebooks. So you could have a Notebook called “Photo Locations”. Inside that Notebook would be Notes like, “San Francisco”, “Chicago”, “Moab”, “Yellowstone” etc… Each of these notes would have locations in those areas that you’d like to photograph. Pretty simple eh?

How Can Photographers Use It?
Aside from the work/business uses, Evernote has for managing lists, to-do’s, projects, and all that, I’ve found a few ways to use it for photography.

1. Photo Locations or Photo Shoot Wish Lists: The example I mentioned above is definitely my favorite. This is by far my biggest Notebook in Evernote. As an outdoor and landscape photographer, much of what I like to shoot is location based. I constantly come across killer locations and, before Evernote, I had them floating all over the place on my computer or pieces of paper. Now, I’ve created a Notebook called Photography Locations. In it, I keep a Note for just about every state. And sometimes, if there’s lots of places to shoot in a certain state (like California), I go even deeper to Notes like LA, San Diego, San Francisco and so on. It’s perfect. Not only is it well organized, but I can even save images to the Note as references. Plus, it syncs to all of my devices so I have those locations with me everywhere.

But it goes one level deeper. As photographers we’re familiar with keywords. Well, Evernote has something called Tags (just another name for keyword). As you create notes you add tags. So let’s take my example from above with photography locations. As I type in locations, I make sure I add tags. Maybe one of those tags (for certain locations) is “beach”. Well, now when I decide I want to shoot at a beach or find out which locations are beaches, I just do a search on “beach”.

2. The Web Clipper: Evernote has a web clipper. So, as I’m browsing the web and I find a cool piece of gear that I want to look into more, or perhaps purchase one day, I clip it and eventually store it in a Gear note.

3. Tutorials and Training: I find tutorials and training that I like all over the web. Rather than saving bookmarks in my browser, I save them to a Tutorials Notebook. In that Notebook are Notes called Photography, Lighting, Photoshop, Lightroom, Design, Illustrator, etc… I put each link into the Notes and even add keywords. Now they’re completely searchable and available with me no matter where I am because I can get to them on any device.

4. Shot Lists: Evernote let’s you add little checkboxes to your notes (as well other lots of other formatting). So I can create a shot list on my laptop, and then see it on my phone as I’m doing the shoot. As I finish a shot, I can check it off the list.

5. Blogging and Social Media: Lots of photographers are blogging and using social media. I have a Blog notebook and a Social Media notebook. Here, I store notes of all ideas I have for the blog or to post on Facebook, Google+ or Twitter.

6. Expense Reports: I keep all the info for my expense reports in there as well. Now, this really isn’t just a “photography” thing, but anyone who has an expense report can use it this way.

7. Writing: I actually write all of my articles and tutorials in Evernote. Again, this one is really specific to my job as a writer but I’m hoping that you can glean something from it. Basically, I write my tutorials and articles in it for a couple of reasons: 1) They’re automatically backed up to the Evernote server. 2) They’re available to me anywhere. So if I have my iPad with me and I’m, say, getting a haircut, I can pull up my current article and keep working on it. So if you write anything for your job or personal life, this can really come in handy.

There’s probably a ton of things I’m forgetting. And honestly, I find new ways to use it every day. But I figured I’d at least share what works for me, in hopes that maybe you’re able to use some of it.

How Much Does It Cost?
That’s the best thing about it. Evernote is free. They do have a Premium membership but I haven’t purchased it yet. Truth be told, even though the premium features aren’t necessarily things I feel I need, I’ll probably go premium soon just because I feel they’ve given me $45 worth of value over the last year.

Thanks for stopping by today. Have a good one!

  • Glyn Dewis

    Totally with you here Matt.
    I’m late to the party here discovering Evernote but holy c**p it’s superb!

    I’ve since scrapped my note pads where I write down tips, techniques, tutorials I and now write them in Evernote; makes them a heck of a lot easier to find just by searching for a word.

    Superb utility and like you say…free so I guess there really is such a thing as a ‘free lunch’ :)


  • Girish

    Very true. Recently I have been on Evernote for sometime. I am learning slowly how to use it to the fullest. I don’t travel other than on shoots, but am getting in the habit of writing everything in Evernote, so whenever I travel I have all the data available. A few good ideas mentioned above as well. Thanks.

  • Jonathon Rose

    I stumbled upon this app a few months ago and have been using it almost daily since. I mostly use it for keeping up with the medications I take, but I’m also using it for Christmas ideas and other things.

  • Catherine Martin

    I love what you shared here about Evernote. I’ve been using it for a few years and sync it across all devices. I organize books I’m writing on it, brainstorm book ideas, project ideas etc etc, meeting notes, just about everything I do goes into Evernote somehow. I also recently started using it for photography post-processing notes so I don’t forget what I did on a photo. I’m going to apply everything you shared here right away. Thanks again!

  • Jan Hill

    Just what I need. Thank you so much for this information.

  • Diane Landrum

    Thank you so much for the helpful hints on the evernote app. I recently got a Ipad and am currently learning how to to use it with my photography. keep these helpful tips coming. I am like a sponge. I can’t get enough hints when it comes to photography! Thanks again!

  • MD Photography

    Download Evernote – check! Thanks.

  • George Hendrix

    I use it almost exactly the same way, and sync the notes across my iMac, iPad and iPhone. Except for expenses. That’s a good idea. Can you build templates in Evernote? That would allow me to dispose of my cumbersome Excel template.

    I also keep my my camera, flash and other photo-gear manuals as PDFs on ibooks, and I use Triggertrap as my remote. And since I don’t have GPS for the Nikons, I sometimes use the iPhone to snap a location to map it so I can find my way back [although it's not particularly precise out in the boonies]. All of which has made my iPhone a critical piece of photography gear.

    Oh yea, I also use Evernote to keep my daily “to do” list so that I have a constant cross-platform reminder of just how little of the list ever actually gets done.

  • JD

    I use an app on my iphone called track atlas, which records the gps coordinates as i hike, or ride to a particular location where i want to shoot.

    the nice feature of track atlas is that it saves the track into a gpx file, in an evernote.notebook. when i get home, the gpx file is waiting for me to import into lightroom maps module, a long with the photos. then lightroom applies the gps locations to each photo :-)

    i also have a record of all of my trips

  • Mike Rodriguez

    Nice overview of Evernote, Matt. I’m with you and Glyn (Glyn, saw a brief note from you on this topic not too long ago as well, on G+, I think…). I was introduced to EN about a year ago by a friend, and now it’s a daily part of what I do with just about everything, from Photography, to teaching ideas, my To Do lists for work, home, etc.

    I really enjoy it. As one who has to work at being organized, it’s a big help!

  • Patti

    I too use EN and also have fallen in love with Great addition.

  • Remy

    I have Evernote on my iPad and iPhone for at least three years now. I looked at it a few times but never got to really use it. Many of the things you mention in the post I do in orher applications but was always thinking that there should be a tool around that would combine all of it. Reading your post fially opens my eyes and I realize I was carrying the right tool around with me all along ;-) thanks for your “eye-opener”

  • Toni

    Matt- thanks for this post. I have had Evernote on my computer and iphone for a few years but never really used it much. I recently got back to using it and I love the way you use Evernote. You have inspired me to use it more… Thanks again

  • Brian

    Matt – thanks a ton. I’m always up for new apps that improve my productivity and help me remember things. This appears to be a good one. If you own stock in Post-it’s I’d sell because I won’t be using those anymore.

    • Matt Kloskowski

      Dammit! And I was thinking of buying more in 2013! :)
      See you in a few weeks!

  • Richard

    I use it all the time for all kinds of things. Until recently, I had also only been a free member. Then I started organizing this year’s Help Portrait event and I wanted to share a notebook with notes related to the event, minutes from meetings, gear checklists, workflow plans, etc. in a way that others could edit. That required that I go Premium. And it was a good reason. Used as a collaboration tool, it really made the effort go more smoothly this year.

    Plus, I use it for many of the same things you do.

    Oh, one other use I love. I have an “inspirations” notebook. Any images I run across that really resonate with me, I send them there. Frequently, that comes as I’m browsing 500px on my iPad. No Evernote clipper in the 500px app? No problems. It DOES share via email. So I email to my evernote address and add “@inspriations” to the end of the subject line and it goes right into that notebook.

  • Doug Churchill

    First I heard of Evernote, seems to be similar to Microsoft Office OneNote. Will be checking it out.


  • Stephen Kennedy

    I started using it in the Beta phase years ago. I bought the premium edition even though I never really needed them but it was a product that I couldn’t do without and felt I had to support them. Looking through your list I have almost the same notebooks and content. Another great use. Hotel, Airline, Rental Car confirmations all go into a notebook for every trip. I also use to take all meeting notes on whatever device I have with me.

  • Tyke

    Longtime user of Evernote (just checked — since 3/2008 for cloud based iteration, it was a standalone app prior to that) and two years of that as a premium subscriber. I use it in many of the same ways as most other folks who have commented. One of my main reasons for going premium was the ability to upload larger files (and a large 1GB monthly upload limit).

    In addition to keeping copies of all my gear manuals, I also upload many of the photography ebooks I purchase. This allows me to reference them from anywhere and since they are mostly PDFs Evernote indexes the whole document and makes it easy to search for specific information inside the books.

    I also capture a multitude of training information, photography insight and inspiration, gear and tech data.

    Another fantastic capability is the fact you can encrypt small or large chunks of data, this allows me to keep a listing of user IDs and passwords available without concern for security. I use it to track copies of all of the software keys and licenses I own in case of issues while on the road.

    All in all, a fantastic tool with a plethora of possibilities.

  • Turner Luttrell

    Thanks Matt, great article about an app all of us can use. I saw it some time last year but never thought of using it in the manner discussed in your post. Looks like a new tool to begin using in 2013,

  • paulciura

    I’ll have to give it a try again. Tried it a few weeks back, but I guess I didn’t give it enough time to hook me in.

  • Ed O’Keeffe

    Great post Matt. I have been using Evernote for about four years now. It touches almost every aspect of my work. I also write all my blog posts and store research on photo locations and travel information.

    This past year I went for a premium membership because it means that the iPhone and iPad app can store all the notes locally. When travelling or away for Wi-Fi or 3G access it means that as long as I synced up my notes before I left, I have all my research, maps, inspiration photos and notes at my finger tips. If that’s not worth $45 a year I don’t know what is!

    • Matt Kloskowski

      You’re absolutely right Ed. I never thought of that. I’m going to spend my $45 right now! You sold me!

      • Mike Rodriguez

        So, I’m curious about this…is there a difference between the iOS side of the app & Android? I’ve only got the free version right now, too, but I have the Android app on my Kindle Fire and have had (mostly) no problem accessing my notes off-line, except one, which, for some reason, is only available when I’m connected to wi-fi…haven’t figured that one out yet. But all my others are all accessible…

        One thing I have noticed, though…the app on my KF isn’t updating correctly. I get update notices daily, but there’s a little “!” on the update icon, and it won’t download or install. So, not sure what’s up with that…have tried logging out, unintstalling/reinstalling…so far, no change.

  • Mark

    Thanks Matt I will certainly look at this. I have one question – how long does it take to get your hair cut? I have a picture of you sitting in the barber’s chair writing with piles of hair falling onto the iPad as you write. Whatever happened to conversation at the barber?

    • Matt Kloskowski

      Waiting to get my hair cut :)

  • Brian Rodgers Jr.

    Too funny that I asked you about Evernote via twitter, and you literally had a blog post planned for it the next day! I got your tweet response and I had to check out what you had to say about it.

    I’m glad you touched base on this app. It’s definitely the one app, I can’t live without! It’s changed my life. It really helps me stay on track in my personal life as well as professional. I also have a photography gear notebook, and use it frequently for shot lists! It’s super helpful when you are on location. I’ve also noticed that if you put in the address to a location you are shooting at, the mobile version will actually pull up navigation when you click on the address. I use to for navigation, expenses, mileage, shot lists even tutorial links and blog posts. You can even have separate notebooks for each client, inside of the client notebook will be notes about each job.

    So far, I have never gone over the 60mb free data limit. So I’ve never had a need to pay for it yet. I typically take screen caps which create small png files that hardly take up any space in Evernote. And I use Evernote daily!

    It’s a really great way for creatives to stay organized. Being creative and being organized are two completely different things. Evernote bridges the gap between the two. It’s a real game changer for me. Very inspiring to see you using it in similar ways Matt. Thanks for posting :)

  • CE Jones

    Evernote is good for multiple platforms. I’ve been using Microsoft’s One Note for a couple of years now. It will do everything One Note will do. I also have a One Note app on my phone so I can access my notes, etc.

  • Jason Ballard

    Thanks for the post. Evernote 5 re-captured my interest in Evernote and I’ve been using it much more over the last few weeks. Another interesting feature is the Atlas which is tagging your GPS location so you can actually review past notes based on where you were when you created them. As a photopgraher, I see the extra benefit in having that part of the workflow.

  • Stephen Kennedy

    One thing I forgot to add in my earlier comment is that if you add their Skitch app to your device you can add drawings (lighting diagrams), mark up photos etc to your evernote notebooks. Great addition from the Evernote Team

    • Matt Kloskowski

      Yep. Very cool and I’ve seen it before. Sadly, I don’t ever do any drawings so it’s not something I’ve ever used.

  • Jim Ault

    A cool feature that Matt did not cover is the LINKING within a note to an excel workbook, psd, folders, and to other note pages in your Evernote world. (read my WHOLE comment before trying this)

    Just dragDrop a file onto a note page, and now you have a link that can open it using the right-click menu. On OSX, you can choose Quick Look to view the spreadsheet or jpg without opening it. Yep, take a quick look at a spreadsheet without launching Excel.. all the worksheets, all the content.

    If you right-click on a thumbnail of an Evernote, choose ‘copy link’, then paste into another note. This let’s you aggregate your content without copy-paste-content, and even become a bit of an outliner for longer articles or presentations. To do lists can be links to other notes that have the details.

    If you dragDrop a folder, Evernote creates a zip attachment that is stored in its archive, and then, of course, automatically sync’d to the cloud.

    (CAUTION: when you do this, Evernote creates a copy as note-attachment in its own support folder, then syncs it to the cloud. This will count against your monthly limits. So, to try this,
    1. Safe method create a new notebook and specify local, and get creative.
    2. or turn off auto-sync, see if you like it. If not, then delete the links and turn sync back on.

    If you delete the link in your note, the copy of the file/zip is immediately deleted from the hard drive in the support folder and not uploaded.

    A good reason to go pro is to link files and folders between Evernote note-attachments on different computers. Of course, the 1 Gb limit may be an issue for photographers.

    Also, I don’t know if the iPhone app will try to sync & download attachments.

    And one last LINKING power user technique. Your Browser has lots of links that are bookmarked but not well annotated =so> open the bookmark manager, select a folder, dragDrop into Evernote and all the links are pasted in hierarchical outline, including subfolders. So now you have a reason to reorganize your bookmarks into good folder collections, then purge them if you want, since they will be tucked away and searchable in Evernote. Want to know the actual URL, right click and choose ‘copy link’

    Bonus, the history folders work the same way. Now your history can be stored off-app and you won’t get ads displaying due your browsing patterns.

    Hope this helps trigger the New Year’s resolution vortex to include your hard drives and information overload.

  • Greg

    Been using EN for about three tears, and now rely on it for tracking everything. Have several photography related notebooks -just would strongly encourage to tag when you enter – that way, three years later you can find things super quick!

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  • Hubert Kay

    Here is one thing I use Evernote for: whenever I receive a new toy (like that Canon GPS tracker I got for Christmas), I upload a pdf version of the user manual into an Evernote notebook called “Manuals”. This way, whenever I’m in the field, I have a pdf version of user manuals for camera, flash, etc. with me.

  • Katherine Mann

    Thanks for this. I’ve used Evernote since version 2.2 and didn’t know that there was a way to import your old database into the new version. There is! Evernote is one of my all time favourite applications.

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  • Göran Elmertoft

    This was a great selling article. I will definitely start using it now.

  • Michael N Sutton

    I have been using my notepad on my iPhone to do many of the things you mention in this blog, no more, I am as of today moving all my note taking and planning over to #Evernote after reading this excellent article. Thanks Matt.

  • Mike Fetterer

    Don’t know if anyone else has mentioned this but it is fantastic for storing receipts. Using the mobile app (I use iphone) you take a photo of any given receipt, that receipt becomes searchable after a quick sync! Best thing about it is once you take the photo, you can also add notes…right there! So you know what the expense was for, who you had dinner with, etc. Invaluable record keeping capabilities.

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  • Matt Cawley

    I use Evernote in a similar way. I frequently clip images from the web for inspiration, as well as keeping handy guides, camera manuals, etc. all in there.

  • ccostan

    I know this post is over a year old but I’m curious if by now, any of the Photographers have transitioned to using Evernote for ACTUAL photo storage?

    • Matt Kloskowski

      I haven’t heard of any that are doing it.

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