One of my favorite features of Aperture is its flexible organizational ability for both images and the byproducts of those images, such as photo books, and web sites. Lightroom simply cannot match these abilities — its literal folder structure and separate collections just can’t take you there.
To make my point more clear, I’ve assembled this mock Aperture library project as an example. All the pieces of the project (images, albums, books, web sites, etc.) are kept within the project; there’s no need to duplicate the folder structure as collections which Lightroom requires. Looking at the simple project to the left, you get the idea.
All the images from the shoot are imported into the library project “The Big Shoot.” Projects are the primary containers in Aperture for images. All images are grouped into projects which are simply abstract file collections. Abstract because, for a given project, the images can be anywhere on the disk — scattered among Finder folders as referenced files or stored by Aperture within its Library file.
Within the project can be any or all of Aperture’s other organizational tools. In this example you’ll see:
- An album named “A Subset:” albums are simply alternate groupings of images that are already in the project. Just drag the images into as many albums as make sense for your project as subdivisions and groupings. Images still live in the project, but can also be held in albums as pointers back to the images in the project. These pointers are tiny uses of disk space — there’s never a need to duplicate a file within Aperture.
- Two smart albums named “Keepers” and “Picks:” smart albums use search criteria to automatically group images and then behave like regular albums. In this example, I’ve set up the “Keepers” smart album to gather all images that I’ve flagged in the project and the “Picks” smart album to gather all the images that are rated four-star or above. There is no limit to the number of smart albums you might use or the complexity of the search criteria for each.
- A photo book named “The Book:” books are a great feature of Aperture that has no match in Lightroom. A book is just a specialized album in that you can drag images from the project, or another album, into it in order to collect the images to be included in the book. Aperture’s built-in book formatting tools are quite good and the ability to order the printed book right from within Aperture is wonderful.
- A web site named “Web Sharing:” another type of specialized album is the web page. Like a book, you gather images together and then create web pages containing them that can be exported straight to your MobileMe web site or to a folder to be uploaded to your own web server.
There are other organization tools in Aperture as well: Light Table, Slideshow, and Web Journal. Each is another specialized album with its own features and formatting tools. And then there are folders. Again, these are not literal Finder folders, but are abstract tools that can hold anything. Put them within your project to group together multiple books or put them at the top level of the library hierarchy to group other projects. There are endless examples and uses. Thankfully Aperture 3’s folders are all blue; the blue and yellow folders in Aperture 2 were nothing but confusing.
To dig deeper into Aperture’s organizational tools check out Robert Boyer’s excellent ebook The Definitive Guide To Organizing Your Image Library Using Aperture.