How do I import my pre-organized photos into Aperture?
September 15, 2012 9:03 AM   Subscribe

What is the best way to import my 10+ years of photos into Aperture without screwing up the existing on-disk organization?

I have over ten years' worth of digital photos, summing up to about 400GB. I have them archived in folders as Year/Month/Day/YYYY-MM-DD-. So, for example, 2012/09/15/2012-09-15-IMG_1234.JPG. I like this organization for a few reasons:

1. It keeps each folder to a reasonable size (instead of having one folder per month or year or something).
2. It makes it easy to find things if I know what date they were taken.
3. All of the photos from a given day/session are together.
4. The file name keeps the photos unambiguous, even if they're copied out of the archive folder (so if I'm making an album, I don't end up with two IMG_1234.JPGs; as long as they were taken on different days, they'll have different names. And my import system deals with name collisions on the same day, in the very rare case that they occur).

I have gone through a few phases of how to catalog the images, which I won't bore you with here. I'm considering trying Aperture as a new solution (I already own Aperture, but I just use it for processing RAWs and making books), and I'm wondering what the best import strategy is.

The biggest problem I've encountered so far is that if I do "Folders As Projects," which seems the most logical, it ends up creating projects with just the name of the base folder (which is the day of month). So I end up with a bunch of projects called "23" for the 23rd of every month of every year. Not very useful.

Now, I could go in and rename all the folders so the bottom level folder has the full date in it. It wouldn't be very hard to write a script to do that. But I'd like to hear about other solutions first. I like the elegant simplicity of the year/month/day paths, so I'd rather not soil it by changing it to year/month/year-month-day. Also, I'd have to update a bunch of scripts and such that assume the current organization. I'm hesitant to invest that much effort when I'm not even 100% sure I'm going to stick with Aperture for this.

So, what am I missing? What strategies did you use if you imported a huge existing archive of photos into Aperture?
posted by primethyme to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It is superfluous to even think about how your photos are stored in the actual file system after you import them to Aperture, so don't. Import them and access them entirely through Aperture.
posted by kindall at 9:24 AM on September 15, 2012

Response by poster: Sorry, I should have explained more.

I have several custom scripts that are important parts of my workflow, which I need to keep using even if I switch to Aperture for most of the work. Those scripts care about how the files are organized on the filesystem. No matter how great Aperture is, I'm not going to be able to use it as the one and only interface to the files.
posted by primethyme at 9:33 AM on September 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

What do these custom scripts do?
posted by conrad53 at 11:05 AM on September 15, 2012

Response by poster: Among other things:

1. Make backups to multiple locations (a NAS on my local network, two cloud locations, and an external hard drive [the working copy]).
2. Add IPTC data.
3. Upload galleries to a couple of different places.
4. Resize, convert and upload images for my blog.
5. Keep track of original RAW files vs. FPO JPGs used in rough designs.

I'm not saying that any of these things are impossible to change. But it would be a fair amount of work, and until I've used Aperture for a while with my entire archive (a lot of programs work well with small catalogs but fall over with scale), I'm not willing to commit to making a bunch of hard to reverse changes to my system. If I use Aperture for a month or two, see that it's working great, and THEN need to make some changes to make things work together a little more harmoniously, I will absolutely do that. But for now I need to be able to import my images and work with them effectively without making a bunch of changes to everything else (which would need to happen if I change the format of the file paths, for example).
posted by primethyme at 11:30 AM on September 15, 2012

I think to be happy with Aperture, you would have to be willing to adjust your workflow to how it wants to work and to use it instead of your scripts. I don't think the the renaming of folders is the big issue - that's just a one-time import problem. I think you have your own system already and Aperture doesn't fit it. Sure you could make a hybrid situation where you use your scripts. I could be wrong here, but that seems like a lot of trouble; you wouldn't be taking advantage of how Aperture is designed to do things and you would likely end up fighting it as you evolved your own system.
posted by conrad53 at 12:35 PM on September 15, 2012

+1 for Conrad's response. I went through this when beginning with Aperture AND iTunes. In each case, I avoided it, then fought it before finally succumbing, only to later realize my old way was more work than I realized and the new way opened up possibilities that improved my workflow. The biggest change came when I stopped thinking of images or mp3s as files and began thinking of them as photos or songs. Also, I had to stop thinking about some of my custom scripts and think instead about what I wanted to accomplish. In both cases (iTunes and Aperture), I hated the change. HAAAATED. And in both cases, now, I wouldn't go back to my old ways if I could.

Like yourself, I have my Mac set up to do all sorts of automatic tricks (specific cloned backups, sharing, etc). My filing system was once a very big deal to me. Now, I wouldn't go back to that way if you paid me to.

It's true that Aperture might not be the app for you. But make sure you're not holding yourself back for the sake of a workflow that might (note the word might) be outdated.

I'm not saying this is the most brilliant example of automated workflow, but everything on my site HERE is automated straight out of Aperture (Aperture to flickr plus scripts pulling images from various categories specified by tags). I had a different way of accomplishing something similar before switching over to Aperture. I thought my old way was brilliant at the time, but looking back, it was a giant PITA!!!
posted by 2oh1 at 1:49 PM on September 15, 2012

I don't know if using Lightroom is an option for you, but LR does offer native folder hierarchy support. My images are orgd YYYY/YYYY-MM-DD-session/* on disk and in LR. It will happily move folders around on disk and to/from archive drives.

posted by seanmpuckett at 6:52 PM on September 15, 2012

Aperture is scriptable. Instead of working with folders, change your scripts to work with Aperture objects such as events, and ask it where the files are.
posted by kindall at 8:16 AM on September 16, 2012

« Older What is "The One", how do I know if I've found him...   |   I'm looking for a cobbler in Dallas, Texas Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.