Projects - Aperture's Slide Sleeve

by Scott Bourne


Derrick Story and I just had a blast teaching a two-day class in Aperture at Macworld. We had about 60 students, and they all appeared to enjoy the class.

But during the breaks, I kept getting one question over and over from the Aperture newbies in the room. "What's a project?"

The entire Aperture approach to image organization hinges on the photographer's ability to understand the project concept.


2007-01-16 11:31:53
It can be confusing coming from iPhoto. To me projects feel more like what are Albums from iPhoto. Sadly only a few of us understand the slide page metaphor :-)
2007-01-16 11:41:48
I know of slides from family slide shows... We bring out the carousel, dim the lights, and "enjoy" many hours of reminiscing. Other than that, the "Master" or "original" concept works for me. I live in a digital world, and I personally keep "master" copies of any files (non-photo or photo) in a specified heirarchy on my PC (Mac coming soon). Those masters are not edited lightly, and any working copies are saved to temporary folders outside my sacred master area.
2007-01-16 16:59:08
I understand the concept of a single master, and that a master can only live in one project at a time. What I am still struggling with is working out the best organisational structure for my projects. I used to arrange my files using the 'buckets' approach, sorted by Year-Month-Day. Now with Aperture, I can't decide how to do it. I'm a hobbyist, so don't really work specific 'projects' or assignments. So do I organise my Aperture library by subject, date, or something else?

2007-01-16 19:34:06
Andrew -
I am a hobbyist also. Last weekend I re-organized 60 gig of masters that were in a highly disorganized (and lengthy) list of projects that were imported from a file system into an aperture structure that uses the blue folders to represent a given year. Inside those I have 12 projects that represent months of the year:
1. JAN
2. FEB ... and so on.
I used search filtering on the main library to pull out the photos taken on a specific month of a given year. Drag and drop the results into the corresponding project. Much better.
I got this as advice from this excellent Aperture resource:
2007-01-16 20:06:39
I was just looking at your comment and was thinking... there really is no good answer. Your organizational approach is entirely up to you. Personally, I have top-level (blue) folders which correspond to the various types of work I do: Commercial, Editorial, etc.. For the home user, it might make sense to go with something more in tune with your personal life: Holidays, Family, Vacations, etc.

The truth is, it almost doesn't matter. You can always do a search, create a Smart Album, or even create Albums of images in another project. Of course, the master will still reside in the original project file that you have chose, but you will be able to "see" the images in any Albums you make, anywhere in your Project hierarchy. Make sense?

2007-01-16 20:32:12
I migrated my photos from iPhoto into Aperture a couple months ago. From the beginning, I was also frastrated with how best to organize photos in Aperture. I created structures of projects to match the album structure that I had in iPhoto. However, in iPhoto pictures can stay in different albums at the same time. But in Aperture, a photo can only exist in one Project.

So right now I ended up creating projects based on time of import. I created blue folders to represent the months in a year. Then under each month, I just create projects at the time of import, giving it names of the day or the event name. The project name actually doesn't matter. It's the metadata for those photos at the time of import that's important.

Then, I also created an album structure using blue folders. So the top blue folder will be "Albums". And under that, I'd have "Friends","Events","Vacations", etc. Since one photo can exist in multiple albums, I can for example, put a photo in the Friends album and at the same time in the "XXX's wedding" album under "Events" folder.

2007-01-17 01:52:33
What actually interests me more is a possible performance difference by organising images differently. At the moment I have one library with roughly 6000 pictures, organised into 3 different (yearly) projects. Within these projects I have single folders for each event (I am also a hobbyist) I took pictures.

Does Aperture load all pictures because they are in one library, or does it only load the pictures of the "active" project? Or would I make Aperture more speedy by deviding the library into several smaller ones?

Hope I expressed my confused mind clearly enough ;-)

2007-01-17 05:10:14
I went around and around too as I had my photos organized in the Finder via yyyy/mm/dd, ie 2006/02/23. I had also been using the Lightroom beta for several months and used that programs image import option to maintain the above file structure. I downloaded the Aperture trial when it became available and I too was challenged to get my arms around how it managed the files.

What I came to realize is it doesn't matter. If you take the time and properly keyword your images on import or very soon thereafter. What I've done is created Project folders naming them by year. So all photos taken in 2007 are imported into the "2007" Project. Inside each "year" project folders I've created "Albums" to designate specific subjects to easily find photo events I've done. I've also created some Smart Folders that I use the keyword searchs on to automatically collect certain photos I've taken of specific interests I want to keep in one place that year doesn't matter. Like all the photos of each of my children, etc.

I think the most important thing you can do is KEYWORD your images on import (take the time to come up with your own wording system) and then let Aperture handle the rest! Its very easy using the Smart folder option or selecting a group of images to keep together and while highlighted select creat new "Album" with selection. Piece of cake.

2007-01-17 06:13:20
HI there,
Just a little advice (and this is personal preference) but I would shy away from creating Projects based on the year/month/day structure. That sort of organizing of things can make it really dificult to find things quickly by searching through projects. I would also refrain from making giant Projects based on the year pictures were taken.

To me a Project is a shoot. I go out and shoot somehting and then whatever is shot becomes that project. On occasion a shoot will last several days, and I split things up into albums within that shoot, but for the most part, a Project is a shoot.

I then place my Projects into top-level "blue" folders based on what type of shoot it was, Editorial, Friends and Family, Snapshots, etc..

As one commenter pointed out below you can easily make as man Albums as you want and place them wherever you want to help further organize things. You can do this with both Smart Albums and regular Albums.

2007-01-17 19:42:41
Projects do two things. They represent the acquisition of images and they allow other things (albums etc.) to be stored in association with that acquisition.

Where the confusion starts (and the opinions diverge) is just what constitutes "acquisition" and "association". To a pro, each acquisition is a paying job, or a day at a location, or a model. To someone like me who has none of those, acquisition is simply reasonable chunks of time or major events: trips, vacations, weeks, months.

Association for a pro can be the web pages that she posted for that client for that shoot, ablums and light tables of selections made by the bride and groom, images for later adjustment and submission to National Geographic, etc. For me and my vacation pictures, it's just albums of images that I want to send to people, albums of versions that I want to put on my blog, albums that reflect where the images came from on my old hard drive.

The main thing to remember is that while projects represent image acquisition and association, *finding and browsing images* is supported by a totally different mechanism: metadata, smart filters, albums. Physical image *storage* is supported by a third mechanism: referenced masters.

These three systems are totally separate. What is confusing to many people is that they are trying to fit a previous organizational system which was a huge compromise created around the computer's disk filing system into these three, but typically only using *one* and finding it lacking. They need to separate their thinking about acquisition, finding, and storage and then apply what they learn to the tools available in Aperture. It's unlearning that is so hard.

2007-01-17 21:22:26
Some great comments have been made in this thread, and I certainly appreciate everybody's thoughts and advice. It's given me a good lauching pad to reconsider how I am doing things within Aperture.
2007-10-02 23:38:09
The concept is alfa omega, finally a simple conceptual analogy and all makes sense, they tried to make the project icon look like slide sleeves aha, thanks again visual artists, at least myself need this extra help, I think its the dyslexia, now I can rearrange my yearly projects with photo shoots listed chronologically below in albums, to blue yearly folders with photo-shoot projects inside those and use the albums brown folders etc as they were supposed to be used. It took awhile but thanks to your analogy I now at long last get it.
2007-12-15 02:44:29
very interesting, but I don't agree with you