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Making photo organization a snap

With digital photography comes the need to organize those scads of photos you took on that trip to see Aunt Joyce. It’s a snap, says Atlantic Highlands-based Preclick, if you use the right software. Co-founder Brian Smiga chats about photography, organization, and combining art with technology.

How did the company get started?

We started Preclick in 2001 because our spouses and friends all had the same hassles with digital photography: how to find, organize, e-mail, preserve and order prints. Our mission is to create photos that are searchable for lifetime photo management. The result, called SmartPhotos, makes Preclick unique. In the long run, if you show customers and partners you care for their digital assets, you will make loyal friends and allies. We have been making software for a dozen years each, so we get a lot of enjoyment out of being first and best in the market.

Why do you feel there’s a need for your services?

Ninety percent of the consumers we surveyed were very unhappy with the software that came with their cameras. The camera companies and the photo-finishing industry have both failed in satisfying new camera owners’ needs to find, organize, print, preserve, and share their photos. Preclick’s mission is to make digital photography fun by enabling more people to find, sort, organize, and order prints. We do it by adding keywords and data to photos to make SmartPhotos. Therefore, they’ll be searchable for years after the fact. In addition, we are working on ways to auto-share and auto-backup photos.

Do you find that digital photography and image manipulation is getting more widespread adoption lately, and if so, how is that affecting the company?

Everyone’s getting a digital camera, so it’s a great time to grow Preclick. Fifty percent of U.S. homes will have digital cameras in two years. That’s over 50 million camera owners. Plus, people take and keep twice as many shots as they did with film. So it’s a great time to be in this industry. We also have the only product that’s free and broadly licensed, so we expect to quickly build a large community of users. The more people that use Preclick, the better it gets, so everyone wins: the camera owners, the industry, photo-finishers, and us. As a result of this rapid market growth, we have started an employee-owned, customer-centered company without the need for much outside capital.

What do you think are the main difficulties that people have in being able to take digital pictures and organize their digital photo collections?

Most of the camera owners we surveyed said their number one pain was finding their photos. Since digital camera owners soon take twice as many photos as they did with film, they soon have thousands of photos on their hard-drives to search. We make SmartPhotos that people can search and sort by things like subject, place, time, date, and so on.

What got you personally interested in doing this work?

We all love photography. I personally am trained in art, theatre, cinema, poetry, and software. Everyone on the team is a photographer, a musician, a filmmaker, or a writer. So Preclick enables us to combine art, emotion, and technology, an unbeatable combination. We also see an opportunity to help lots of people. It’s satisfying to make the fastest and easiest photo software in the world. It’s even more rewarding to have millions of satisfied customers. I cannot imagine anything more satisfying than trying to design the best photo software in the world.

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