Keep it Clean
I start a new Aperture library every year. I have several reasons for this. If I just kept adding work to one library, that library would become massive and while Aperture can handle it, it’s no fun when it’s time to rebuild, repair, or move that library. It takes a long time to do these things to a massive library. It can tie up a large library for hours or even days.
My library organization is based on date. Every project is dated and organized in a folder by month. Starting every year makes a lot of sense. Plus, the work I do revolves on dates. For instance, I shoot a lot of sports and every season is revolves on the year. The contests I enter are annual.
The only time I think a photographer should think about organizing a library on a system other than date is if they don’t archive a high volume of images and they are stock photographers that shoot categories of subjects. For instance, they may want to organize their library with Projects inside of folders named things like, Flowers, Beach, Forest, Insects, etc. They may also want to keep a career library. Of course, this can easily become a big mess. What if you have a photo of an insect on the beach next to a tree and a flower? Keywording would very important in a library like this.
The other consideration is to create multiple libraries to handle various aspects of photography. For instance, I decided last year to create a “Wedding” library to keep that separate from all my other work. I found that I needed to see all my weddings in one place when it came time to build a new wedding website and portfolio albums.
I’ve also created special libraries for big projects. For instance, I shot a long term story on affordable housing and created a separate library for only that project and ran it off my laptop. When I was done, I imported the selects into my big 2012 library.
I’ve been using Aperture since 2005 and since that time I’ve fine-tuned my library structure. My main three photographic activities are my newspaper, freelance, and personal work. Therefore, I created three Folders named exactly that. At the end of the year, I create a fourth folder named Contests. This is where I organize and prepare images for the three big contests I enter.
- Have a “Standard Project” at your disposal. Read this post to understand what I’m talking about.
- Use all the containers Aperture provides as they are intended. I once read where a user advised starting one Project per year and using Albums for every shoot. This is a bad idea because you are abandoning the power of Folders. Use Folders to organize projects. Put Smart Folders and Album inside Projects as a general rule.
- Don’t be afraid to add to your initial library structure. Sometimes new avenues of business and photography present themselves and your library needs to adapt. Don’t be afraid to start an entirely new library. You can always merge them later.
- I know quite a few photographers that create a new library for every assignment. There’s nothing wrong with that except you’ll have to merge libraries and if you want to build a book or other project from multiple libraries. You can also export the images you need and create a new library for that project. My point is there’s more than one way to use Aperture. Do what works for you.
- Whatever you do, keep up with keywords and captions. You’ll be glad later when you need to find something.