Looking for advices on photos management

monsieurpaul

macrumors regular
Original poster
Oct 8, 2009
230
0
Hello all,

I’m hitting a wall regarding digital photos management.

We’ve started digital photography in 2004: a few hundreds of pictures taken with a 4 MP Canon Ixus, neatly ordered in folders under Windows. It was the good old time…

8 years later, we have tens of thousand of photos (and videos too!) coming from a T3i and 2 iPhones. The last 4 years of photos are on a huge iPhoto library on my wife’s MacBook Pro, previous years are in folders on external usb drives, videos are saved as iMovie collection on my MacBook Pro… It’s a mess.

What I want:

  • All our photos in one library shared by our 2 MacBooks, preferably on my NAS (Synology DS212j) from which I can do the backups.
  • Import videos and do some basic editing in the same application and/or library. By basic editing I mean removing the bad parts of a video, everything else will be done in iMovie.
  • A better way to tag and organize my photos than Events and Faces...
  • A local library on one of the Macbook (the one we take with us on holidays) that I could easily sync with the shared one when we come back home.

So I am looking for your advice on what could be the best solution. I know that what I want is not necessarily what I need, so I am open to all suggestions.

Thanks,
Paul
 

monsieurpaul

macrumors regular
Original poster
Oct 8, 2009
230
0
Aperture?
Thank you, I' m looking into it.

Is it possible to sync an Aperture library between 2 Mac (with Aperture itself or 3rd party app ?), or is it possible to use Aperture with a shared library on a NAS ?
 

acearchie

macrumors 68040
Jan 15, 2006
3,269
103
Thank you, I' m looking into it.

Is it possible to sync an Aperture library between 2 Mac (with Aperture itself or 3rd party app ?), or is it possible to use Aperture with a shared library on a NAS ?
I had the same sort of problem when I moved from one mac pro and added a macbook pro.

It turns out that it gave me a good opportunity to try lightroom and I now have lightroom on my laptop and aperture on the desktop. I like element of both which is annoying but I am tending to process more photo's on lightroom at the moment.

If there had been a way to have one program and one set of photo's I would have done it however, the laptop comes with me to uni during the week so it would be almost impossible to have them sync with out a lot of help on my part!
 

snberk103

macrumors 603
Oct 22, 2007
5,503
87
An Island in the Salish Sea
I can offer only limited info. I have no experience with video, so can't comment.

I believe you are looking at upgrading to either Lightroom or Aperture. {Each have} many more options to organizing than iPhoto. Both have free trials. In theory each should be able to deal with a catalogue/library on a NAS. In practice, in the past, things have not worked as designed. Check the forums that deal with specifically with LR3 and A3 for up-to-date info.

My experience is with Lightroom, which calls it's library a catalogue.

In LR it is relatively easy to make a selection of photos, and export them to new catalogue that can be moved onto the MB when you travel. When you come back you import this MB catalogue back into the main catalogue.

Hope this helps.
 
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rebby

macrumors 6502
Nov 19, 2008
306
1
MN
In Aperture keeping a single library sync'd between multiple devices doesn't work real well. You can easily corrupt your Aperture Library as it was not designed to be a simultaneous multi-user environment.

I get around this problem by keeping multiple Aperture Libraries (5, but in your situation I could see using as few as 3). FWIW, I like to keep my Libraries managed as opposed to referenced.

Here is a post on this very topic from another thread;

rebby said:
The short answer is, yes. You can accomplish this in a few different ways though. Personally, I like using multiple libraries. It's not that difficult to move files around from library to library and it allows me to use managed files throughout.

I'm managing this via the "export XYZ as Library" feature. I actually have 5 libraries at the moment.

  • Video Library - I just moved all of my video data into a dedicated library. I never did any consolidation work between my videos and images anyway. Moving videos to a dedicated library had made it much easier for me to catalog the few video files that I have. I'm not sure how this will work long term for me though, I may end up scrapping this library and merging the contents with the relevant library detailed below at some point in the future.
  • Archive Library - This is an archive of my digital images dating back to the late 90's (when I first got a digital camera) and as recent as 2005. I also have a few film scans from that date period in this library as well. This library is for archival purposes. I reference it when I need an older image for whatever reason. I'll also visit it from time to time to add image metadata (including locations and faces). This library is roughly 700GB in size.
  • Recent Library - This library contains images from the last 5 years (ie: my recent work). At the end of each year I'll export various projects/albums/etc that are 5+ years old to a new Library and merge that with my Archive Library. I will then delete this exported data from my Recent Library. For example; in January I exported all of my projects/albums from 2005 and earlier to a new library and merged that new library with my Archive Library. Once the merge was complete, all vaults were updated and all backups were complete, I went ahead and deleted those projects/albums from my Recent Library. My Recent Library is roughly 250GB in size and I like to keep at roughly this size (mainly for local storage on my MBP).
  • Working Library - This contains my most recent works and is a new library for me. I really only keep things in my working library for 3-6 months (depending on project). The primary goal of my Working Library is to keep things small and fast. I never let this library get any larger than about 20GB. Any larger than that and it really starts to eat into the SSD on my MBA (yes, I share this library between my MBP and my MBA). The size of this library will be even more beneficial in the short term future as I'm planning on migrating my MBP to a SSD/HDD configuration instead of the HDD RAID0 that I'm running on now. By keeping the majority of my active work in a small library like this, I can take full advantage of the speed provided by the SSD.
  • Export Library - Rather than keep my Working Library in full sync between my MBP and my MBA, I'll use an export library from time to time. This library contains a few smart albums (that I use as part of my workflow) and minimal projects/albums. The sole intent of this library is work on a few select images that will later be merged back into my Working Library. For example, if I go on a trip, I'll use this Export Library along the way (since I have no need for my full Working Library while on a hunting trip, for example). At the conclusion of my trip, I'll merge this entire Export Library back into my Working Library and, ultimately, scrap the Export Library at the end of the day. I also use one of these Export Libraries when visiting a client. This masks any other data that I may keep in my Working Library while still giving me full master/version/editing access to my client's images (which, once again, can be merged back into the Working Library).

I'd really love it if Aperture supported a "fragmented library" framework (by being able to open/work with all 5 libraries at once and drag/drop between them) but, alas, that's not the case. At least not today.

I've seen other solutions that work somewhat like mine using a single library and a mix of managed/referenced files. Personally, I like to keep my files managed (so I can treat the entire library as a single file and move it around at will), your mileage may vary. Using a mix of managed/referenced files (or all referenced files) is a fine solution as well. Unfortunately, I can't help you much with that solution...
For the most part, that post is still relevant. Currently my recent library is nearing the 300G mark and my working library grows to around 25G. I've also upgraded to an SSD/HDD model in my MBP since then. Those are just minor details however and doesn't change the relevancy of the post.

In your situation, I'd suggest a single master library for the bulk of your data. This would be most similar to my "Archive Library". Keep this on your NAS as a "vault" of your older images. This is a library that your wife and you can share BUT, HUGE BUT, make sure that access to this library is serial in nature. Parallel processing of a single Aperture library can cause MAJOR problems. You can do this in a number of ways, if it were me, and I had the disk space, I'd do this by keeping a master Archive Library on the NAS and copy of the Archive Library on each laptop. Work with the Archive Library on the laptop and, from time to time, sync each laptop library with the NAS master. If you're like me, access to older images is the exception rather than the rule so sharing a single Archive Library might not be a big deal. If you can control access to this library, that's certainly the easiest solution.

In addition to the Archive Library, you could have a Working Library for your more recent stuff. In a way, this is just a more frequently accessed Archive Library though so it's really up to you. How much collaboration do you and your wife need and how quickly is the big question. If you're constantly trading the same photos back and forth, I'd keep a Working Library of 30G or so for this collaboration and sync frequently. If you don't have the need to swap photos back and forth between devices on a frequent basis, using your Archive Library for this task would be sufficient. The big question is; how big of a library do you want to work with? Because I prefer managed files, keeping my libraries at a manageable size (in GB) is paramount.

I'd then keep an Export Library on each device. My Export Library fills this desire;

A local library on one of the Macbook (the one we take with us on holidays) that I could easily sync with the shared one when we come back home.
In fact, that's the exact intent for my Export Library. In practice, I'll have as many 4 or 5 Export Libraries at any time. When I'm using them, there is a motivation behind the segregation. I also keep one master "Export Library" around that I use as a "template" for new ones. This way, I never have to delete individual files from a Library, I just trash the entire thing once it's merged back into one of my masters (Working or Archive).

Once you get used to the whole export/merge process it's pretty quick and easy. I'm super anal about backups so I'm always sure to backup prior to doing any merge however and suggest that you do the same. Once you get the hang of it managing multiple Aperture Libraries isn't that difficult and will very likely fulfill your needs.
 

monsieurpaul

macrumors regular
Original poster
Oct 8, 2009
230
0
Thank you rebby for this extensive answer !

The way I understand it (for my recent photos) :

- A local managed library on each Mac
- A managed library on the NAS
- Local libraries are synced to/from the NAS library and not between them

Can the NAS library be a Vault ?
 

rebby

macrumors 6502
Nov 19, 2008
306
1
MN
Thank you rebby for this extensive answer !
No problem. Happy to help.

The way I understand it (for my recent photos) :

- A local managed library on each Mac
Correct. That's how I manage things. I've gotten to the point now where I have several, purpose driven, local libraries but the concept is the same.

- Local libraries are synced to/from the NAS library and not between them
You could sync these libraries among themselves if you wanted to. It could cause some confusion when syncing back to your NAS library though. Play with the Export/Merge process a bit and you'll get the hang of it. The more you play with it, the better you'll understand how it works and what you can do with it.

- A managed library on the NAS

Can the NAS library be a Vault ?
I think of my Archive Library as a Vault of sorts. It's where I put images for Archive purposes. I'm done editing them (for the most part) and just need a organized long term storage. In that sense, it's a "photo vault".

Be careful with the term Vault however since Aperture utilizes a "Vault" for backups. In your case, your Archive Library would serve the same purpose and (very likely) live on your NAS.

Read the Vault documentation, you can have multiple Vaults for each Library as well and it's a good idea to utilize these. I use at least 2 Vaults for all of my bigger Libraries (I have multiple USB drives connected to an Airport that I keep Vaults on, I keep one drive offsite and rotate them from time to time). My smaller libraries will always have at least 1 Vault, sometimes 4 or 5. I also keep backups via rsync for my local libraries.