Automate your creative life with IFTTT Actions

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We all love automation throughout our daily lives. Like, we LOVE automation…in everything. The less we have to actually do, the happier we tell ourselves we’ll be. (While I would love to digress into an ongoing monologue about human psychology, this is neither the time nor the place…) In the busy world of photographers, artists, and creative professionals, automation can, indeed, be a huge asset in allowing us to better manage our time, get more accomplished, and geek out a little along the way.

IFTTT.com (standing for “IF This, Then That”) is the perfect (and FREE) solution for a variety of facets in our lives, whether it’s just managing our day-to-day activities, streamlining our creative process, or super-charging our social media effectiveness. As the name suggests, IFTTT is a cause-and-effect, trigger-based platform for accomplishing more with less effort.

How it works

Each online service (Google Drive, Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) is a “channel,” a specific inlet/outlet for data. To activate a channel, simply log in to your account through IFTTT. Then, after activating your channels, you can create “recipes,” which are karma-defying mixtures of triggers and actions, and, with 84 different channels currently available, the combinations are theoretically endless. Automatically upload Instagram photos to Flickr, instantly upload images from a Dropbox folder on your desktop to 500px and/or Flickr, text ideas to yourself and keep them organized in a master spreadsheet, and the list goes on and on! (I’m dancing like the Keebler elf by this point. Video not available.)

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So, let’s get started!

    1. Create an IFTTT account. Visit https://ifttt.com/join and sign up. As mentioned earlier, the service is free, so it’s really not going to kill you, even if you never use it (although I guarantee that you will*).ifttt-photographers-02

      *This guarantee is backed by nothing but my good faith in my own word. Then again, I also say things like, “Did you see that unicorn?” or, “In a past life, I think I may have been your pet hamster”, so take it for what it’s worth.

    2. Activate a channel. Or two. Or twenty. The more you activate, the more options you have!

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  1. Create a recipe from scratch or browse through thousands of existing recipes. It’s fun. Honestly.ifttt-photographers-04
  2. Create more recipes.
  3. Enjoy the awesomeness. Enjoy the freedom!
  4. Repeat as necessary.

How does IFTTT benefit photographers?

In my best Count von Count impersonation: Let me count the ways! (…or not…it’s late, so let’s just get to it.) These are just a few ideas to help get you started.

The best way to get the most out of IFTTT is to create multiple recipes for the same channels. This enables you to create multiple actions from the same trigger.

Social Media

Image Sharing

Admit it: 1) We’re photographers. 2) Our lives revolve around images. 3) Sharing those images causes other people to revolve around us. 4) We are not narcissistic.

Getting our images out there is an important part of our lives, so why not make it easier?

Streamline Creativity

One of the hardest things for me is reigning in all of the thoughts and ideas that constantly flow through my head. Have an idea on the go? Text it to yourself and have it added to an ongoing “ideas spreadsheet” or saved for future reference on Evernote!

Let’s say you’re browsing Instagram and come across some bits of inspiration you want to save for latter. Why not save them to the same ideas spreadsheet?

Working with a team of collaborators? Share your spreadsheet with the rest!

Finding Work

Looking for extra gigs or a full time job? Heck, looking for an apartment, even? Get an email update every time a new listing matching your search terms is posted, and even save it to a spreadsheet for future reference!


Photogs Gone Wild

So, let’s say you love IFTTT and want to go crazy, here’s an example of just how automated you can be.

Hypothetical Scenario

Perhaps you’re on the road location scouting, or maybe you’re in the middle of a fast-paced shoot. You want to keep your followers updated with some behind-the-scenes images, but you have precious little time to do it. You snap a photo on your phone, upload it to Instagram with the tag #bts, and:

  1. Your photo is added to your Facebook page for your fans to see.
  2. It is uploaded to Twitter as a native image instead of the typical Instagram link.
  3. A new post is created with the image and published on your blog.
  4. Your image goes directly to Flickr to be added to all of your other behind-the-scenes photos that other photographers love to comment on.
  5. However, you’ve been trying to get the attention of some potential commercial clients who prefer stodgy LinkedIn over tweets and Facebook updates, so you make sure a link to the image is shared on there so they can see how cutting-edge you can be.
  6. You may want to quickly grab the image later, so you want it sent to Evernote.
  7. But, you also would like to have a solid archive of the image as well as quick access from your desktop, so it automatically gets added to Dropbox which syncs with your PC.
  8. Hell, let’s just save the image to a folder in Google Drive while we’re at it!
  9. And, to be an ass to your mother, you installed a WeMo switch on her bedroom lamp that will turn the light on and off, reminding her (at whatever ungodly hour you’re on the go) just how awesome her offspring truly is.

ALL OF THAT from the simple action of quickly sharing a single image one time! And, the same concept can be applied to various channels, triggers, and actions. Build it right into your post production workflow, exporting web-ready images to Dropbox and automating the rest, from image sharing sites to social media to online backup and tracking! Wizardly, I know…


Share with us!

Do you use IFTTT? Are there other products or services that help you streamline your daily or photographic life? Tell us about it in the comments below, and maybe your story is the next we’ll share!