Looking for advices on photos management

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by monsieurpaul, Jan 5, 2012.

  1. monsieurpaul macrumors regular

    Oct 8, 2009
    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.

  2. monsieurpaul thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 8, 2009
    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 ?
  3. acearchie macrumors 68040


    Jan 15, 2006
    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!
  4. snberk103, Jan 6, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2012

    snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    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.
  5. rebby macrumors 6502

    Nov 19, 2008
    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;

    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;

    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.
  6. monsieurpaul thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 8, 2009
    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 ?
  7. rebby macrumors 6502

    Nov 19, 2008
    No problem. Happy to help.

    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.

    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.

    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.

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