Projects, they're not just for breakfast anymore. The project ecosystem in Aperture 3 is what provides a home for imported images. A place where images live. Those images can show up anywhere but one way or another they have a place that is officially their home for lack of a better term. Images can be moved from one project to another - even copied if you really want to but that's not really advisable nor is it necessary because you can cause any image to show up in any project via albums or album like things. More on that some other day. Today I'll attempt to rid the more structured thinking lot of you out there of what we'll call – "what is a project anxiety".
This is a dreaded disease of trying to figure out what the term project means to you prior to actually doing anything. Another symptom is the horrible condition of "well what if I shoot things that belong in two different projects", or "what if…" – you get it all the nonsensical meaning of life type things that will violate your carefully constructed theoretical photo project life.
Forget it. Don't bother. Well bother with it to the extent that you do something soemwhat organized but don't get too wrapped up in it. Here's your salvation. I'm not the most administratively oriented person by a wide margin. I tend to upload/import whatever images are on cards I shot into one project. Whatever crosses my mind that happens to be the major reason of why I was shooting in the first place. Doesn't matter really. Here's why…
I've been working on a personal project for about a year. I shoot a lot of sessions in the attempt to get images that might work for what I envision as a final result. Each of these sessions are imported into their own project – just makes sense. It's convenient. I don't have to think about it. In a lot of cases the context which I make those images has multiple intents – portrait oriented, fashion oriented, sometimes just doing stuff as part of some experiment, a favor for a friend. Whatever. That tends to define the session as a whole rather than my long term project. The images shot during that session live and will always live in that initial project I created during import.
Each of those projects lives under one or more folders in Aperture 3 - they vary. Some of them even live under my "crap" folder with a bunch of other projects. Yes, I have a folder called "crap". Well shouldn't they all live under a folder called "Personal projects" that has another folder called "Mirror Mirror"? Sure – they could but they are also projects that fall more under some other kind of thing so that's where those projects are stashed. I also am not going to use nearly as much as I shot, not even every session, for that Mirror Mirror Project.
Here's what I do… I have a project within Aperture that's actually called Mirror-Mirror. It contains no images. In the sense that no master RAW files live in that project. They all live somewhere else, in whatever project they were imported into. So what's in this project that is home to no images. Well… about 7,000,000 albums that contain images from lots of projects, a few dozen light tables, 92 books, and a partridge in a pair tree. The stuff that is that project defined by output rather than defined by all or one of the reasons I may have shot a particular session on a particular day. The work product required to think about and edit that project. Every single cull session I've ever done for the purpose of that mirror-mirror project. Every one I've rethought. It even contains versions with different processing treatments done to the whole of the current candidates just for that project.
How does that work… well the magic of albums, versions, and versions picks is how that works. The point is that I have projects that are only work-product that have slideshows, presentations, albums, edits, specific treatments that house collections of images from all over the place. They contain no images themselves. Yet another reason I love aperture. All of this is pretty much free since it's just database linkage, not duplication of files all over the place. The really cool thing about keeping all this stuff is similar things are super easy to pull together but more on that some other day…