Advanced Photo Sorting

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by whatisthe, Aug 4, 2008.

  1. whatisthe macrumors member

    Apr 10, 2008
    Greetings fellow MacRumors members :). I come to you with a problem in hopes that you will provide me with a solution. I have pondered for months trying to come up with a solution but have given up and need to utilize some other peoples knowledge.

    I have thousands of photos that I would like to sort into folders. I need them organised by categories. There will probably be about 100 categories. I would drag them into these categories by hand but the problem gets a little more complicated than that...

    Each photo could be in multiple categories and I would like it to be in each categories folder. There will be duplicate photos all over the place, but this is how I need to organize them right now. My ideal solution was to somehow go through each photo, type in tags for categories in the metadata, and have a program move each photo into folders named with the category I tagged them with.

    I realize this is probably not possible, but I would like a solution that is easier than going through each photo and dragging it into applicable folders. I would be willing to buy a professional program if it allowed me to sort these photos more reasonably than by hand.

    Thanks for your brainpower! :D
  2. swiftaw macrumors 603


    Jan 31, 2005
    Omaha, NE, USA
    I would suggest forgetting about the physical file location and use some kind of photo management software (iPhoto, Aperture, Lightroom) to tag your photos with appropriate key words.
  3. 66217 Guest

    Jan 30, 2006
    Yep, forget about the Finder. Nothing except disaster can come from that path.

    For your needs, Aperture seems the best option. Its photo organization power is above from any other program made for the Mac.

    You can add metadata, put a single photo in many folder (without having to duplicate the photo), it has the Smart Folder option. For example, if you want to create a folder with all the photos that have the tag of "Sports" and that were taken in the year 2007, you can make this in barely 10 seconds with Aperture.

    Give it a try. It has a 30-day free trial.:)
  4. whatisthe thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 10, 2008
    I've thought long and hard about that and it doesn't seem to have the flexibility of viewing the photos on other operating systems or in other applications. I would like to be able to open the category of photos and view them all in preview or any image viewer on windows or mac.
  5. whatisthe thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 10, 2008
    There's a feature where you can create a folder with all the photos with a specific tag for export to an external drive or disk? That sounds almost too good to be true. I think I'd be able to manage this in Aperture and only export categories as I need them if this works.

    I'll definitely look into Aperture now, Thanks :).
  6. 66217 Guest

    Jan 30, 2006
    Once you create the folder, just select all the photos (Apple+A) and click export. A dialog box would appear, were you can ask Aperture to change the names of the files to be exported (either put the date of the photo, or a custom name with index, etc). In this dialog box you can also select were to export (external drive, desktop, a folder in Finder to later on burn it to a DVD or CD, etc).

    In your previous post you stated you'll like to see all your photos in Windows. But, could you further specify what you want?

    Using Aperture you can see your photos in any iLife or iWork application. If you want to share it with someone with Windows you'll have to export it to an external drive or to the Finder and then pass him/her the photos. Or you could also use the MobileMe Web Gallery.
  7. whatisthe thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 10, 2008
    Thanks for the tips Roco. I realize Aperture is great for organizing on just one mac, but I have multiple computers and multiple OS's and I would like to be able to access the photos from all of them easily. Right now they are completely disorganized in a folder.

    One way to explain what I want is to use this simple example.
    Say I had a folder with lots of pictures, all of family members. I would like to be able to tag each picture with the family members name and export folders that contain all the pictures of each person.

    While organizing in finder is far from the simplest and best way to organize, it will work with all applications on any operating system as it's the only universal way to organize photos.

    I downloaded Aperture and have been messing around in it trying to figure out ways to organize pictures. It's fairly complicated but intuitive so I'm learning quickly. The Smart Albums feature looks promising. Also the autofill feature for metadata is nice but I would want a way to lock it to a set number of responses to limit the amount of categories.

    I also briefly looked at Lightroom to see if it would have any advantages over Aperture but I haven't seen any.
  8. 66217 Guest

    Jan 30, 2006
    As far as I know that won't be something easy to do. You could have all your photos in a shared external drive, but adding tags to the photos would be a time consuming thing without Aperture or Lightroom.

    That can be made within Aperture. You export the photos (by doing this you create a new file, so watch out for space) and then put those photos wherever you want. Windows and Mac users would be able to see them without problem.

    Granted, but I couldn't imagine keeping my sanity organizing thousand of photos in Finder.:)

    I personally prefer Aperture. Tho Lightroom also has some things I really like, the first one being it is much less processor intensive. Also that it has some different editing tools that I find nice to use. But in the organizational side, for me Aperture is just much more flexible.

    One last question: why do you want to be able to access your photos from many computers and only have them in one central place? If you only want to have them in your laptop and in your desktop (and if they are both Macs, then Aperture would be ideal, tho since I haven't done it myself, I can't offer help in arranging a shared library). But if you just want to share them with your family, then giving them a copy of the original for them to store them in their computers would be the best solution.

    My solution has been to upload all the family photos to the .Mac Gallery, and from there any member of my family can download the photo. Or if they ever want the full-resolution photo, I'll just burn a DVD and give them to them.

    Hope this helps.:) If not, keep asking, and someone would surely come up with a solution.:)
  9. MaddMacs macrumors 6502

    Jan 16, 2008
    Flagstaff, Az

    It looks like a Flickr account might fit the bill. Once you upload the photos you can tag them, organize them and drag and drop them into sets or collections. You can duplicate the images from set to set, you can enable family members or friends to have access to, even download the file, and it works cross platform in any web browser, anywhere in the world (with an internet conn.).
  10. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    What you need to do is NOT sort the photos but TAG the photos.

    Think about a public library. You can find a book by title, author or subject but they only have one physical copy of the book that is filed by Library of Congress catalog number. You need to set up something like this. But you are in luck because even iPhoto can do this. Aperture can do it better but I'd suggest starting with iPhoto. If you need more Apple makes it easy to import the iPhoto library into Aperture so you do not loose any work and you do not have to re-entry you tags.

    The other thing is ease of use. It may take you hundreds of hours to tag and catalog the photos. If your time is worth anything you will want to use software that has a good and productive user interface. Try both Apple's Aperture (or iPhoto) and Adobe's "Lightroom" both alow you to download the software and try it free for 30 days. But be warned both of these have a learning curve and will take the full 30 days to learn. iPhoto is much easier and my work for you.

    You need to plan out a system of meta data. In my system I use "keywords" to tag the kind of photo like "group shot", landscape, macro, vacation, underwater and so on. I have a fixed set of keywords and each photo might be asigned from one to eight keywords. for example it might be an underwater macro shot of a fish (three keywords, at least for that shot) then I use "comments" to asign a given name or location ("Alice and Bob in San Fransisco") and then I rate the image with one to five stars. I wrote down my rating criteria 5=publishable, 3=snapshot, ....

    Now that I have all this data I can make "smart albums" I photo can exist in any number of these but takes up only one place on the hard drive. I can est smart albums inside folders. So I can "now sort by location by creating a smart album and telling it to match all the photos with "San Fransisco" in the comment and I can make another smart album call "Alice, four or more stars" to hold all the best shots of Alice regardless of location.

    But I can create any number of smart albums and change thesetup at will with little effort but you have to pay trhe big price up front by entring all that meta data. I currently have a project to scan old film and prints. I've done about 3,000 and have 12,000+ more to go. The slow part is entring meta data for all those images. It's all going into Aperture

    Before using Flcker be ABSOLUTELY SURE (and do a test) that Flicker stores the meta data tags in a standard format that other software can read. That way years from now when you move your images the meta data tags can move with the images and be read by the new system. Apertur and Adobe's "lightroom" both can use industry standards for data.
  11. ZballZ macrumors regular

    Nov 11, 2006
    PHOTO MECHANIC might do the trick!

    I have had similar issues, and found a GREAT app for applying and editing metadata, fast and easy in hundreds of photos.

    The app is PHOTO MECHANIC.

    You can add metadata directly in the image-file and thus be independent of app or OS.

    You can easily search for keywords, and then export those particular photos to a new folder as well.

    The keywords added ALSO works in spot-light. So when all your photos are tagged, you can simply use spotlight to find whatever you need. (And thus you can search your tagged photos from several computers)

    downside; a little expensive :) - but WORTH IT.
  12. ProwlingTiger macrumors 65816


    Jan 15, 2008
    I use Lightroom, and I don't know where I'd be without it. Aperture is great too.
  13. whatisthe thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 10, 2008
    Wow thanks for all your replies!

    I don't think a Flickr account would be most flexible solution possible. Also, I'd prefer to keep everything within my network. Uploading that many photos and then havign to download them again when I need them would nto be fun.

    I think ChrisA has the right idea about a library. I guess I've been to stubborn to accept this as a solution but I'll probably end up doing this. It just seems a bit complicated to set up but once I do that it should go smoothly.

    Thanks for the suggestion of Photo Mechanic ZballZ. It looks very good and it's easier to use than Aperture even if it is less featured and costs more (if I bought Aperture with an academic license).

    The only thing I don't like about it is it doesn't autofill fields like Aperture which could save a lot of time. Is there any way to add this feature? Having a hundred keywords and having to click that list to use the master keyword list to tag every photo seems like it would take longer than Aperture.

    Lightroom looks good but it seems very similar to Aperture. Keeping my software in the mac family seems more natural, so unless Lightroom offers a better way of adding and sorting metadata than Aperture or Photo Mechanic I'll do without it.
  14. ProwlingTiger macrumors 65816


    Jan 15, 2008
    Lightroom has a few different ways of sorting than Aperture, but they're all fairly equivalent. I have both, but I got stuck on Lightroom for some reason.
  15. ZballZ macrumors regular

    Nov 11, 2006
    Excuse me for repeating myself, but I feel the need to point something out again:

    MOST (I believe Aperture as well) image-sorting-tagging-software creates a database, that link all your tagging and info to the photo. The photo-file it-self remains the same. Now, copy these photos to a usb stick, bring them to another computer, tagging is lost! Send a few by email - tagging is lost! Open them with a different app than originally used to tag - tagging is lost!!

    What is so UNIQUE about PHOTO MECHANIC is that it adds all these info INTO THE IMAGE-FILE ITSELF. In the area of the file that allows metadata (Exif and IPTC). This means it will stay with the image FOREVER. No matter what happens.

    I say this because I have had a couple of harddisk-crashes, where I lost my image-libraries. Fortunately I had backup. But only of the image-files, and not the iphoto-database-files. All my tagging was lost!

    I consider this the MAIN FEATURE of photo mechanic. And aperture, iphoto and whatever DONT HAVE THAT.

    I relalize I am preaching a bit, please excuse, but I was so thrilled when i FINALLY found the software that did this thing!
  16. 66217 Guest

    Jan 30, 2006
    When you export photos from Aperture the metadata is embedded to the photo. For example, if you add this photo to Lightroom, your photo would have the metadata (including tags), and Lightroom recognizes it.

    If you are exporting the RAW file, then you are out of luck, since basically what Aperture is keep the master as it is and don't change anything in it. But having a HD failure doesn't means you loose the tags. When you make a back-up of Aperture it backups all of the metadata (ratings, tags, etc).
  17. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    No. That's not "unique".

    It is the standard way everyone does it. "Everyone" uses IPTC meta data standards now. Look here for more info. "

    In addition Aperture will export "Adobe Standard side car files". These are not IPTC standards but seeing as Adobe does this it is a common industry standard.

    As I wrote above, be sure and test your ability to export meta data in some standard way before you invest hundreds of hours entering data. Keywords hear "your ability" this means not just the software but your knowledge of how to use it.
  18. ZballZ macrumors regular

    Nov 11, 2006
    You're right in what you say - but so am I. I suggest you download the Trial Version of Photo Mechanic and have a look at it. It is unique!

    When adding metadata to a JPG, which is a LOSSY format, 9 out of 10 image-apps, will save the JPG again. THUS recompressing the file. Example; open a jpg in photoshop, add some metadata, save the file => recompressing = loss of quality.

    Same with Aperture. Export your files, and they are recompressed. Thus loss of quality.

    Photo Mechanic DOES NOT TOUCH the image part of the file, so you cant add contrast or remove red-eyes and all that stuff. BUT you can add and remove and re-add as much meta-data DIRECTLY INTO THE FILE as you want, your original image-quality remains the same!! That is unique.

    This way I can label and tag my whole library, with the metadata added to the original image, without making copies or exporting and without losing any quality. That's is the feature, I am addicted to. No other app I have come across can do this, thus making it UNIQUE!

    (of course if the feature is of no importance to your needs, then useless...:))
  19. whatisthe thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 10, 2008
    Sorry for taking so long to respond to this thread, I just got back from a great vacation and didn't have internets.

    I downloaded Photo Mechanic and it is an excellent piece of software. While it does not autofill keywords, it does have a nice drop down menu of all available ones.

    I have a few questions still before I start going through all my pictures and tagging them.:)

    Adding metadata using Photo Mechanic changes the date modified data of a picture. This is not in the standard photo metadata but the file metadata the operating system reads and uses to sort in finder. Is there any way to avoid changing the date modified metadata while adding keywords in Photo Mechanic?

    Is there any way to see a list of all keywords used in all the photos in a given folder? This would be useful to see if I misspelled any keywords in any of the pictures or used a keyword only a couple times and would like to change it to something more general.

    Is there a way to see if a picture has no metadata, or specifically no keywords filled in for it? I would like to be able to select a folder and see if any pictures in it have no metadata without going through each picture. Going through thousands of pictures to make sure I tagged them all is not an efficient solution and it seems there must be a quicker way of ensuring all photos have keywords tagged to them.

    and finally...

    Are structured keywords useful for organizing many keywords or just applying many keywords to a picture for a given category? i.e. having an animals category and then animals listed under it such as elephants, monkeys, etc. or is it best for having an animals category and applying that to a picture so it has the tags animals, creatures, living things etc.

    Thanks for all your help so far! I would be in the clouds still trying to find the best solution to my dilemna without you! :D
  20. tinamac macrumors newbie

    Oct 1, 2008
    sorting is easy since I got Imagemapper

    I bought ImageMapper from - I don't know if it works on mac, I use it on OpenSuse.
    I can import photos and categorise them as I do - I can tag them with one or many categories,
    The software centralises my picture store I can (but I don't have to) keep stuff in directories, it makes it easy to backup and restore.
    I keep the images on a USB drive with the software running on it too, so I can take it with me from pc to pc, (I had it loaded on my hard drive first but this way seems better)
    Once imported, (or while importing) my images I can add descriptions and because I keep negatives that I have scanned as well as digital photos, I can use a "filling identifier" that keeps track of what negative album I have the hard copies in and which images are from my digital camera and which are from my old pentax!
    The software is great, it doesn't use the operating systems file viewers, which seems to sppeed everything up! - I have currently 3,656 pictures loaded (still got more negatives to scan and still taking digital photos) and its really fast to flick through them - hope this helps!
  21. krye macrumors 68000


    Aug 21, 2007
    As said before, using the Finder for photo management will be a disaster.

    Use something like iPhoto or Aperture. Tag everything with keywords and sort them into smart folders/photo albums. This way, you only have to keep 1 iteration of your photo and it will appear in multiple albums.

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