How do you store your photos on your hard drive?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by rphiggins, Dec 12, 2010.

  1. rphiggins macrumors member

    May 4, 2010
    I moved to my mac five years ago but before that I simply stored my photos using windows explorer ie folder for each year and then folder for each project.

    On my mac I started using iphoto and quite liked it, but moved to aperture last year. To be honest I don't find aperture easy to use and often find my self unable to figure out how to even see all my photos.

    Any way I have just upgraded to a new 27" iMac and when it copied everything over from my backup it managed to create both an iphoto and an aperture library. I was using iphoto 2008 and now have 2011.

    Can't decide whether to go back to iphoto or keep trying aperture. Either way I am thinking I want to take control of where my photos physically sit ie go back to a folder structure.

    Are there any good articles or recommendations which cover this?

  2. carlgo macrumors 68000

    Dec 29, 2006
    Monterey CA
    I use iPhoto to store the photos. I download into that program and then drag the photos off to one of the fifteen or so folders I have created within iPhoto.

    One is California missions, for example, so I can easily locate all of my mission photographs there.

    I have a couple of others specifically for Apple TV slide shows so that they all don't get downloaded there (original ATV with hard disk).

    You end up with a huge pile of photos under iPhoto's "photos", and then the same ones can be accessed through the folders which makes them findable later.

    The key is to run them off to folders as soon as you download. Don't be lazy and put it off or you will lose track of which ones have folders and which ones don't. Use this time to get rid of the bad shots.

    You also have to decide on how far do you go in creating folders. You could have "flowers" or "roses", "daises", "geraniums", etc. You can end up with too many folders, but in any case it is easier to find a rose photo under "flowers" than sifting through "photos" and finding a rose amongst all of your relatives...

    I also try to do the processing at this time as well. I shoot RAW now, so the easy and less critical shots are just processed in iPhoto before filing away. The ones that need lots of work or for perspective control and such that is not possible in iPhoto are dragged off to Elements or PTLens.

    A professional might want to make a sale before doing any final work on the photo and that can be done anytime, even after it has been filed away.

    I believe you could use this basic workflow in Aperture or Lightroom, etc. And of course they have various tagging procedures that may make it easier than my cruder, but more understandable, method.
  3. emorydunn macrumors 6502


    Jun 5, 2006
    Austin Texas
    I let Aperture manage my photos in it's library and then from there I have a really overly-complex folder and project structure that needs to be cleaned up.

    What I'm going to have once it's cleaned up is three main folders: work, school, personal. Within those folders I'm going to have year and possibly month folders and then the projects will go inside.

    Each project usually has a couple of albums associated with it depending on what it's for. There's usually a selects album, an export album, and if order is important, sometimes an album for that.

    The most important thing to do is add metadata to your photos. If you use Aperture or iPhoto you can add location very easily. And tagging is also great.

    Now then, personally I'd use Aperture if you have it. It's a little tricky to get used to because it combines iPhoto's giant grid of projects and a hard folder structure. I'd also use a managed library because it means you don't have to worry about where the files are and you can organise them the way you want inside of Aperture.
  4. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    I moved from iPhoto to Lightroom (though I understand that LR an Aperture work on the same principle).

    First of all - it's really important to let the program manage the location of the photos - not Finder. If you decide to create a complex folder structure, do so using the program. iPhoto, Aperture, and LR use a database to manage things. If you use Finder to move photos around then the database can lose track of where the images are.

    Using a complex folder system misses the whole point of Aperture and LR (iPhoto is a bit different). My suggestion is to let Aperture and/or LR create their default folder structure which (for LR, at least) is Year-Month-Day.

    Then use the keywords to tag the photos into places/projects etc. Or use the Collections/Albums for projects/places. Then use keywords for content. Once you have figured out the fast way to tag and/or move into Collections/Albums you should find that it takes as much time to do it this way as moving images in specific folders. For instance, in LR, you can set the keywords on import, meaning that there is no extra steps after import to move the images into a folder. I assume Aperture is the same.

    The problem with using a complex folder structure is that you are relying on memory. If you have gone to several cities in Europe, taking photos of statues, fountains, and cars - and then set up a set of folders by country and city, and then sub-folders in each for statues, fountains, and cars how do you file an image of car in front of a statue? Or a statue in a fountain?

    And then, if you want to show someone of that cool Renault in front of the Tivoli fountain you need to remember in which city you were, and then where you decided to file it. Assuming you remember that it was a Renault and not a Saab.

    The advantage of keywords is that I could simply search on "Car" and "Fountain", and be presented with all images of both regardless of the city. Or if remembered the country, but not the city I could add that and narrow the search even further.

    In LR (and I assume Aperture) you can set up a smart collection that is essentially a saved search. So, as you tag your images the collection is updated as automatically. So, a collection can be set up for "Renault". And/or for "Renault", "Fountain", and "Europe". etc etc

    Where you save a lot of time is in several years when you only have a vague memory of an image. You just do some keyword searches until the image pops up. Or, failing that, you can just browse all of your images in a grid. Sometimes you need to see the images taken at the same time to find the image you want.

    If I recall, iPhoto is different because it actually hides the physical structure (at least by default) of the folders from you and presents the "virtual" folders. You can, iirc, drag a photo into as many albums as you want. I think it can be said that iPhoto actually uses 2 keywording systems. One is the actual words that is uses for what it calls "keywords", and the other set are the albums. Albums can be thought of as visual keywords.

    Hope this helps.
  5. AML225 macrumors regular

    Apr 11, 2010
    It sounds to me like you need to better learn how to use Aperture. I have used various different software products to manage my photo library and have come to the conlcusion that Aperture is the best for my needs.

    Apertures real benefits lie in its ability to deal with massive amounts of photos and its handling of RAW file formats (which I shoot in exclusively).

    I would recommend watching some of the video tutorials that come preloaded in aperture and play around with it as much as possible. Also, as others have said, let Aperture handle the file structure!
  6. rphiggins thread starter macrumors member

    May 4, 2010
    Thanks for the replies.

    I have decided to have another go with Aperture. I had tried the online videos etc but I find a number of simple features just difficult to get to work. But I have bought a book to work through........
  7. flosseR macrumors 6502a


    Jan 1, 2009
    the cold dark north
    Aperture 3:
    Referenced files for portability with a storage externally through time machine AND a Vault backup.. once setup its all automatically and you have it all backed up properly even against Aperture Library corruption :)

    In case you want a short version instead of a book :
    I am just writing all about White balance now (in Aperture)... enjoy and good luck :)
  8. neutrino23 macrumors 68000

    Feb 14, 2003
    SF Bay area
    You should also be looking at backing up your photos. I put an Aperture vault on an external mirrored pair of 1TB hard drives. The case is a Guardian Maximus from OWC. The Drobo is similar and very popular but more upscale and a little costlier. Other solutions are available. I keep this in addition to time machine backups.
  9. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Apr 14, 2001
    Sendai, Japan
    I don't recommend you moving back to manually stored photos. It sounds more as if you're overwhelmed by the complexity of Aperture. To me, going back to a manually managed folder structure is a step in the wrong direction.

    Do you shoot RAW? If the answer is yes, I'd either stick with Aperture or switch back to jpg and use iPhoto. IMHO shooting RAW and then use iPhoto (or some other entry-level solution) doesn't make sense to me.
  10. avro707 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 13, 2010
    I used to use Aperture, and just found it cumbersome. I used it merely for storing and sorting images rather than anything else (I prefer Photoshop for tweaking/editing images).

    So I have a semi-manual system that works well enough.

    I also tried Lightroom 3 in the beta stage, but didn't really like that much either.

    Mine are stored as Year / Month / Date / Project / with JPG, NEF and PSD versions of each image. The PSD is the one I work from, with the NEF embedded in it as a smart-object.
  11. stroked Suspended


    May 3, 2010
    Picasa 3

    Picasa 3 is free, and very easy to use.
  12. cosmokanga2 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 7, 2008
    Canada, where we live in igloos.
    Aperture 3 running on a i5 MBP.

    All my photos are stored on a separate internal hard drive, (swapped the optical bay) dedicated to Aperture in individual managed projects. Separated by specific assignments, personal photos and general work. All is then backed up with vaults on to an external FW800 1TB WD.
  13. rphiggins thread starter macrumors member

    May 4, 2010
    What do I want to do with aperture?

    Thanks for replies.

    I shoot jpeg most of the time. I want to use aperture to store and tag photos. I like the map and face functionality - my next dslr will have built in gps.

    I also regularly print books to have a nice bound version of each year or special project.

    I take about 3000 pictures each year.

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