Family workflow with Aperture using merges?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by porkozone, Nov 18, 2013.

  1. porkozone macrumors newbie

    Jul 1, 2004
    The problem

    I have been banging my head against a wall for weeks now to see if there is any way to resonably manage our family's photos together, from our separate iPhones and laptops. It's well documented that Apple has not made this easy, but I'm trying to find if there is any sort of reasonable workflow that will allow the following:

    1. Give my wife and I immediate access to our own photos, on our own laptops (via iPhoto, Aperture, whatever)
    2. Give us both semi-immediate (or even relatively soon) access to each other's photos (we often take similar photos in the same room around the same time) on our own laptops
    3. Allow me (and preferrably both of us) the ability to keyword tag and mark rejects on our own time and laptops (or iOS devices) to our combined photos
    4. In the end have "one" version of our library, after keywording, etc has taken place (preferrably alongside the working version of new files)

    The "hopeful" semi-solution

    I've read a bit about Aperture having the ability for photographers to systematically export their library to their remote laptop, have them and an assistant work on the same library space (separately, on separate machines), and then re-merge the library when the photographer comes back to the studio. This sounds like it could be made to work for my needs, but I have a few questions about how this works (I don't have Aperture yet).

    If I understand the workflow correctly, I could do the following:

    1. My laptop would effectively house the master lbrary
    2. Take the current Aperture library on my machine and export it to my wife's machine, to give her a fresh "up-to-date" library
    3. We each make edits & maybe import new photos on our respective machines, add keyword tags, etc.
    4. Occasionally I merge her current year library into mine, merging our edits. Then I export my libary again for her latest "up-to-date"
    5. Rinse, repeat every so often

    If that is how it works, I have a few questions:

    1. If we make edits, version, etc to the same photo, what happens? I think I read that as long as it wasn't the same type of change (i.e. keywords) then they would merge, but if we both made the same change, one machine would be set to override the other's changes. Is that correct?
    2. How does this setup manage duplicates? If we separately import the same photo to our own machine while the library is separated, will it merge that photo (and edits/metadata) when we merge the library?
    3. Is this type of workflow reliable, or does it have a lot of gotchas?
  2. netslacker macrumors 6502

    Jan 21, 2008
    Apple's answer to shared photos is a Shared Photostream (iCloud) which doesn't quite give you the functionality you're looking for. Setting up shared Photostreams will almost do what you're asking, but not quite. You would each setup a Shared Photostream and share it with each other. Import/edit images on your own Mac and then share the edited images to the shared photo stream which then automagically is accessible by the other person. You can grant the other person permission to add to the stream as well.

    Using Aperture to export/merge libraries will only combine the libraries. So each time you do that you will create duplicates from the previous merge(s).

    IMO, the best way is for you to edit your pics on your machine and your wife to edit hers and then share them with each other using PhotoStream/iCloud. You can then import the ones you want from her stream into your library and vise-versa. There may be a better way but this is what comes to mind.

    You could also use DropBox to sync images but I wouldn't move my Aperture library there as it seems this is just asking for corruption.
  3. porkozone thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 1, 2004

    Tried that. While your main photo stream is full resolution images, shared streams are not.

    And yes, I've read enough to know trying to keep a "shared" library on dropbox, network storage, etc is not a good option.

    From my understanding, what I am asking is used by photographers when they go offsite as a workaround to this same issue. I've heard it mentioned, but am curious how well it actually works.
  4. flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Aug 9, 2009
    Portland, OR
    Personally, I would not recommend what you are trying... despite the fact that some of it might work.

    In my case, the value of my pictures is too great to try to have multiple people editing what is essentially a single database. Also, from experience, it is best to have a single person "owning" the database and to be responsible for the management of the database.

    I ABSOLUTELY would not put the database on a shared service, such as Dropbox. Nor would I use any two-way syncing capability between two computers. I do think it is fine to do one-way cloning of a library to a second machine.

    Having said that... Aperture merging is quite powerful. Yes, you can have multiple people edit the same collection of photos... and merge them both into a single master library. From what I understand... even if you were both to keyword the same project... then the keywords would merge. So for example, if you were key wording people, and she was key wording other data... it would all merge in.

    Still... doing this on a "mega level" seems to me to be a disaster in the making. I value my pictures too much to risk a library corruption, and the vast number of hours that I have invested in my library is too precious to want to screw up.

    We use a single iMac as our master machine. It is on 24/7, is double backed up (Time Machine locally & Crashplan to the cloud). I personally do not consider clones as "backup" per se... but they are valuable... so I do an automated local clone to an attached drive nightly using CCC, and I also rotate CCC clones to a set of external HDDs... one of which is always offsite.

    Then... I will occasionally do a one way clone of the entire library (about 400GB) to my wife's iMac... so that she has 100% of the pictures. She can do anything she wants with them... but she never edits the library... because next time I clone, her changes would be lost.

    During a trip... I will import pictures into my MacBook Air. I might start organization during the trip... and when I get home, I'll add the project(s) related to that trip into my master library.

    Proceed at your own risk... but for me, I would NOT recommend editing at a large scale across more than one user. For me... the benefit is superficial at best... and the risk is just way to large. Also... to be honest... I really do not want her mucking around with my organization... except in very limited situations. For example... if she was going to keyword people... I would let her sit at my iMac and do it on my machine.


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