Aperture 3 Workflow Advice

Part of the Aperture 3 SuperSimpleStuff™ series. Every once in a while I look at my site statistics and usually scratch my head in wonder regarding posts that get traffic all of a sudden that I haven't seen in a year or more. I usually read them to see how off I was, how my thinking has changed, how many typos there are, etc. One consistent fact is that I am not a good proof-reader. Occasionally I find something that I forgot about entirely that still has some degree of relevance. If it makes sense I even bring it up again like now.

Yesterday this post on workflow seemed to be pretty popular - yes there are minute differences between this and Aperture 3 but nothing earth shattering. Mostly details regarding how the import window works. There are a couple of things in here that I want to bring up a level and talk about when using Aperture 3 as your primary workflow tool. All of these general guidelines are true no matter what you use to organize your process with an important singular theme. Consistency is of critical importance when it comes to work-flow.

A lot of work-flow advice covers things very broadly like import fix backup. Here are a couple of things that are Aperture 3 specific that I find very useful.

  • If you use stacks to contain multiple versions ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS make a new album that will have the album picks be those new alternate versions name the album for it's purpose. Black and White, Cropped, Sharpened, Whatever. If you create new stacked versions willy nilly I will assure you that your stacks will be more of a hinderance than a help.
  • Metadata first. Do this early and do it for all your images. I am serious here. This is strongly associated with the chaos that can happen if you create new versions using "duplicate version" and then add metadata later that really applies to ALL versions of that particular image. Inconsistent image metadata between variations is a killer. Obviously if this is on purpose and is version specific then that is okay but in general most keywords, copyright, location, faces, etc are things you want to do first.
  • Make color labels globally meaningful for every project.
  • Fix any time zone or time skew issues immediately after or during import - doing time math a year down the road really sucks. Trust me you will not remember especially if you use two or more cameras on the same project that are different from each other.
  • Trust me when I say naming your versions differently than the actual master file names leads to hell and will bite you in the ass when you absolutely do not have the time to figure it out.
  • Make your overall stack pick mean something across all projects. I know this sounds a little draconian but it helps a lot. For me all stack picks are pretty much the un-digitally-molested version with maybe a few corrections that apply across all possible "variations".  In general they are NOT images with all the "final" images that went out for printing or whatever - those are versions with their own album. Doing this makes a lot of sense when combined with WHY you actually go after old images in a search - usually it has NOTHING to do with what you were doing 5 years ago. It also suddenly makes that "show stack picks only" checkbox in the search HUD much more useful. If you want to see all your variations use "show image in project" and take a look at your albums in that project.
  • If you are not sure about an added ajustment - make a new version and album to contain it. Far easier to just get rid of these versions than it is to back out adjustments you do not want from your one "pristine" unmolested version that happens to be your stack pick. See a theme here? Want to try a preset? If you take this advice at any time on any project you are about 3 keyboard shortcuts away from doing just that for any number of images in any project you worked on at any point in your Aperture life because all your projects have the "original" "pristine" as the stack pick at the top level of all projects. Get it now?
  • Don't treat Aperture features as "static" set it and forget it type things. Use them for the task at hand. Example - keyword "button sets". If you don't have one that applies to the project at hand, make one. It takes about 5 seconds and will save you tons of time in the very fist project. You will also find that very quickly you will already have a keyword button set that makes sense for almost any project you do. You don't have to have some sort of "let me make a button set for all the things I can think of" outside the task of actually keywording images. Use these kinds of things "on the fly" now.

I will leave you with that food for thought - pretty much some clarifications of the post referenced at the top. If you have no idea what any of this means take a look at my Organization eBook or at least my Stacks and Albums screencast.

RB

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