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Advice on building up a "photo library" #1
jemostrom's picture
by jemostrom
March 31, 2013 - 7:48pm

I'm just an amateur but I regularly get asked about if I have a photo from event X, of person Y, etc. Unfortunately I haven't really organized my photos for this but more for offloading photos from my laptop and keep them safe (described here

But I've started to plan for how to make it easier for me do find specific photos easily. My plan is to use keywords and keyword-search. But I'm unsure of how to do this.

I could for example use a service like flickr, smugmug which allows easily allow keyword search … but how permanent will such a solution be? Will flickr, smugmug, etc be around in 5 years, 10 years?

Or I could build up this locally, for example by storing jpegs (I don't know if it's necessary to save RAW files in a library like this, I will keep them in my Aperture libraries) and then use some software for searching. Possible programs are Aperture, Media Pro, Lyn, etc.

I'm a bit confused on how to handle this and if someone of you have advise on how to handle this I would really appreciate to hear your suggestions.

(a possible complication is that Swedish uses letters like åäö which Aperture encodes properly … but in a 'non-standard' way which sometimes makes it difficult to search, for example entering 'måne' in a search field doesn't find the keyword 'måne' since they have different encodings in utf-8)

- jem


Walter Rowe's picture
by Walter Rowe
April 2, 2013 - 2:31pm

(a) ALWAYS keep the raw files. These are your “originals”. Raw processing improves all the time. Processing old raw files in new raw engines can produce remarkably better results.

(b) What raw processor are you using today to generate your JPGs? If you intend to use Aperture as your DAM (digital asset management) tool .. your image database .. then you might as well use the raw processing engine built into it.

There is no bad time to apply keywords except for “never”. Ideally, as DBMoore states, you would want to apply keywords, descriptions, captions, contact info, etc, as soon as you ingest the images into the DAM tool and begin to process them. That said, I found myself very much in the same position as you some years ago.

I had thousands of images with no management tool and no metadata whatsoever. At that time I opted for what is now called PhaseOne Media Pro. It is purely an image management tool. It is not a raw processing engine. If you process all your raw files in Adobe Camera Raw via Bridge or Photoshop, then Media Pro might be the right solution for you. It is widely recognized as one of the premiere digital asset management tools on the market. They offer a free trial so it might be worth giving them a test drive before you commit to Aperture.

If you have an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription and are already using Adobe Camera Raw, you might consider Lightroom. It is included in the full Creative Cloud package.

Do you already have Aperture? Is that how you are processing your raw images? If so, I would just stick with using it for your DAM also. If you know there are issues with the international characters, you might consider encoding the problem characters in some other form as a work-around. I would also encourage you to use the “Feedback” link in the Aperture drop-down menu (Aperture > Provide Aperture Feedback) to tell Apple about this problem.

David  Moore's picture
by David Moore
April 1, 2013 - 3:45pm

The best time to keyword images is when off loading or ingesting into a database such as AP. Use Metadata Presets for ingesting they allow for tons of info searchable later!!! Then Star them right after the “ingest”, and then or later anything with four stars and better you can key word those with more details if you like. Ap has great search capabilities so I would explore the use of smart Albums. Cheers
Twitter= @davidbmoore
Scottsdale AZ

jemostrom's picture
by jemostrom
April 4, 2013 - 8:40am

I’ve been using Aperture for several years now, but haven’t really organized things to be found later. It’s more like ‘process, publish and archive’ :-/

I’ve more or less decided that I will have use a master archive like I do now (libraries exported either by event - where I have taken lots of photos - or by year-month). This is where the originals - mostly RAW files - will live. The change I need here is better keywording.

But what I’ve discovered in the last couple of years is that I regularly get asked for images from a specific event, a certain person, etc. And right now, it’s difficult for me to find those images unless I remember that I have these photos and when/where I took them - something that is becoming more and more difficult when the number of photos increase.

So I want to store “processed” images in a way that makes it easy for me to find the desired photos - I’m thinking keyword search. The only “editing” that will be done of these photos are resizing when exporting.

After playing around with demos, looking at prices, etc, I’m currently down to two alternatives: Aperture and Media Pro. Right now it looks like Aperture will be the one I use even for this.


Walter Rowe's picture
by Walter Rowe
April 4, 2013 - 1:32pm

I would apply all the metadata to the original raw files, merge them all into one master library (or several libraries by type .. concerts, travel, family, etc). I would also import the processed images into these same libraries. Once metadata is applied to the raw masters, I would copy/paste it to the processed images. Now I have metadata on all of the images and a search will find both raw and processed versions. I can even choose to stack the raws and processed images together. I can also include File Type in a search if I only want to find the raw files or only find the processed files.

Just a thought … and I agree with using Aperture vs Media Pro since you already own it.

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