Today Mark Jaquith shares some tips on developing a workflow in Aperture.
Aperture, Apple’s excellent image processing and organizational tool, can really help take your workflow to the next level. I’ve been using it for over two years (to the tune of over 10,000 images), and I couldn’t imagine going back. That said, it is a complicated application with a fairly steep learning curve. And even if you learn all the screens and all the keyboard shortcuts, Aperture doesn’t hold your hand. It is a tool, not a workflow. It is up to you to craft a workflow that fits your needs. In the many months I’ve been using Aperture, I’ve tweaked and refined my workflow. What follows is the system I use.
Step 1: Importing
My number one rule for using Aperture and not losing your sanity is to never ever babysit an import. Don’t try to sort your photos. Don’t try to view your photos. Start the import and walk away. I put Aperture on a dedicated “space” in OS X Leopard to reduce the temptation. Aperture does a lot of hard work when importing, and performance is unbearably slow. Don’t torture yourself.
Because importing is such a bear, I recommend you do it all at once. Even if a card has photos from more than one project, import them into one project and sort them out later.
Speaking of projects, it might be a good time to settle on a method of sorting your photographs. I use a project for each distinct “event,” and store them in folders by year. I have smart folders for each month of the year. Remember that smart folders give you a lot of flexibility, so don’t make your organizational structure more complex than it needs to be.
I have a “To be processed” folder which is where new projects go on import. My projects stay there until I’m completely done processing them.
Step 2: Prepare for sorting and processing
Before sorting, you should turn on Preview Mode. It makes sorting a lot faster. Next, reduce the size of your thumbnails so that you can see more at a time.