Using Keywords and Smart Albums Instead of Labels

by Ellen Anon

Last week Josh introduced us both and gave three great tips. This week I'm going to be describing some of the ways I use Aperture in my everyday workflow. I thought I'd describe one way that I use Smart Albums and keywords. One of the features that I like about Adobe Bridge is that it allows you to both rate and/or label your pictures. The utility of ratings is obvious - I think picture A is better than picture B, which is better than C, but all are worth keeping. Aperture allows you to rate images too. But labels are equally useful in that they allow you to designate which pictures to use for specific purposes. For instance, I might look at a group of five star images and decide that I want to enter some in a contest or submit certain ones to a stock agency or make prints of some for a gallery show, etc. Unfortunately Aperture doesn't have a labeling feature.

When working in Aperture, I substitute keywords and Smart Albums for labels. For example, last week I was preparing a submission to Nature's Best magazine. The images needed to come from a number of different projects. So I created a new keyword "Natures Best." Then as I went through my projects I applied the keyword to all the images that had potential

After applying the keywords, I created a new Smart Album based on the keyword "Natures Best." With all the potential images in one place, it was easy to compare and quickly choose the images to send.

Of course you can apply this same basic concept to finding images for any submission, assuming that you regularly apply keywords to your images. For example, if someone needs pictures of trees, if you've keyworded your images reasonably, you can create a Smart Album using the keyword "trees." Within seconds you'll be looking at all the images you might submit. That speed means you can submit your pictures quickly and sometimes makes the difference in getting the sale.


2007-04-04 07:54:58
Keywords get used for lots of information. What about using another metadata field that allows multiple entries? Or maybe there aren't any.
2007-04-04 11:10:14
I use the same workflow with the smart albums. But I put this extra information (like web, bog, print ...) what to do with the pictures into the IPTC tag "special instructions". This are not keywords and I prefer to handle them separatly.
2007-04-04 13:10:20
Just as a side comment, even though I use Aperture similarly to the way you describe, I do create custom metadata fields that work similarly to the way lables would work. So for example I have created a field to mark with a 'Yes' the images that to have a release, or the images that have been sold for example.

If you have not explored this, it's a great and flexible way to work, and can also be combined with Smart Albums, providing the best of both worlds. A side aeffect is that allows my keywords to remain very clean and slim.

Enjoy and thanks for your article. Martin.

Ellen Anon
2007-04-04 13:10:55
You are allcorrect that you could opt to use the IPTC tag "special instructions" or other metadata fields. But the advantage for me of using keywords is being able to apply the quasi label to a group of images at once, or just drag it on - or use a button set and click rather than typing it in repeatedly. Checking metadata fields is OK, but has to be done individually. One of the beauties of Aperture is that there is a lot of flexibility in ways to do things that work the best - and make the most sense- for your individual needs.
2007-04-05 03:52:53
I really appreciate your attention to workflow!

This is one area that seems to be fastidiously avoided by many Aperture advisers (who say that "workflow is a highly personal thing and we can't presume to guess at how yours should be."

2007-04-05 03:59:40
Coincidentally, I was just looking at iview and captureone pro software and it appears they take the opposite approach.

2007-04-05 05:43:01
Yes, keywords are being abused here - they should be used to describe the object and not for "internal" workflow annotations. You wouldn't really want export versions of these files to contain Nature's Best in their keywords, not when you subsequently send them to NG. Instead it would be better to create versions, and track those in a smart album.

iView allows you to set up custom fields and catalog sets, again reserving keywords for their proper "external" role.

2007-04-05 08:02:40
Ok. To be honest I use a transitional approach.
First I tag the images with -web- -print- .. etc as keywords. Because of the shortcuts with the alt key and the numer.
Then, when I have rated all and think the images are ready, I use the metadata replacement and erase this tags from the keywords and add them to the "special instructions".

I have used iView before Aperture. I do not like that they do not have the stacking feature and also each change you make, you make it on the original file itself (or a copy of it) ... also no "non dictructive" approach.

2007-04-05 18:36:33
Love this kind of tip! Thanks. And I have your book, which has been a godsend for me as I navigate Aperture (as a totally new Mac user too).

Question for Martin: How does one create a metadata field quickly and then access all photos with a certain metadata field? Smart album? (sorry for the "how to" question)

Thanks in advance.

2007-04-06 18:05:27
'Keywords are being abused???" Hmmm - that seens like an overstatement. I wasn't aware there were Keyword Police and rules ... Keywords are used to make searching for particular images easier.

Seriously, the point is that in Aperture we don't have labels and so we have to be a little creative with a work around. I certainly hope that labels will be included in future versions of Aperture, but for now we have to figure out some other way of getting the job done. I agree that in the example I gave of using "Natures Best" as a keyword, it might be prudent to remove that keyword before sending the image elsewhere. But for my workflow, this was the most expedient solution. I'm glad to see others chimed in with some other approaches such as using metadata fields.

To create a custom metadata field open the Metadata panel and then click Other.In roughly the middle of the panel, grayed out you will see the word "Custom." Click on it and type in the name for your field. Then enter a value such as "yes" and click "OK." Now to apply it to an image simply click the checkbox by the metadata field.

And Marieboyer, I'm glad you're enjoying our book - thanks!