The portable Aperture

by Dominique James

I am in Chicago this week, doing a photo shoot for the campaign of Fusion. Fusion is a new yoga school partly owned and operated by my good friend, a yoga master and instructor, Juanita Monaghan. The past two months, I've been traveling and I've been getting valuable first-hand education on what it actually feels like to be mostly doing on-location pictorials.

Before this constant traveling, and for the past 15 years, I've been shooting almost exclusively inside the comfortably controlled confines of a photo studio. Sure I've done quite a number of location shoots in the past, but not on a very regular basis (meaning, not all the time). Shooting on location almost all of the time is therefore a somewhat new experience for me and I'm in the process of getting used to it. I am a fish out of the water, so to speak, but hopefully, not for long.

I am guessing that many if not most photographers who are using Aperture are shooters whose work and passion takes them to interesting locations both far and near. These are photographers who may be shooting in some of the most exciting places but maybe under unpredictable conditions. They may be constantly traveling, alone or with assistants, from one place to another, lugging lots of stuff and moving about, while at the same time, keeping in mind the process of consistently producing required output on-the-go and certainly keeping deadlines.

While veteran location shooters may have the on-the-go Aperture workflow down pat, I'm figuring out how it can work for me. Here's how I'm doing it:

1. All my equipment are stashed in a single backpack: a D2Xs camera body with 6 Nikkor lenses and a Lensbaby 3G , and, an overly accessorized 17? MacBook Pro with an Epson P-5000, and a few other stuff, including an iPhone.

2. After the shoot, or even while shooting, I load all RAW image files into the Epson P-5000. It seems easier and more convenient to load the photos to a handy and compact portable storage device than into a laptop while on the go.

3. Meanwhile, on my MacBook Pro, I have Aperture installed and waiting with an empty Library.

4. The soonest that I am able, I connect the Epson P-5000 to the MacBook Pro, and reference all the shots in Aperture. I keep lots of other stuff on my laptop so I may not have enough space to create a managed Library in Aperture. Also, it seems that referencing the images stored in an external drive attached to the laptop seems faster.

5. First thing I do once the images are referenced in Aperture is that I export the masters out of Aperture, or and burn them into DVDS, and stash these away as a backup.

6. And then I just go ahead and start working on the new shots inside Aperture (with the P-5000 hooked up when necessary).

7. At whatever stage I may be in the workflow in my laptop's Aperture, when I reach my home studio, I export the Project (with Consolidate Images checked) out of my laptop, and then import it into my MacPro's Aperture, where I then continue working. I also do a little housekeeping at this stage, with all unnecessary and secondary backups and copies are judiciously deleted to conserve space and to avoid confusion.

8. The DVDs I burned as a backup on location undergoes a quick check and then filed and referenced away.

9. Once I'm done with the Project, I export the final Project, burn in Toast spanning multiple discs, label, reference and stash away.

This simple workflow seems to work for me, and I'm enjoying the location-to-studio workflow in Aperture. Being new to "being always on-the-go," I am meeting photography challenges that others may have already solved ahead of me. The straightforward workflow I outlined above, although I might need to refine it a bit more, helps me concentrate on the images and meet my deadlines. I'm just glad to be able to do this with Aperture as one of my main workflow tools, on the road and in the studio.