Tutorial – Organizing a Photoshoot with Aperture

Aperture is a powerful tool, but sometimes it can seem a bit daunting. Here, I’m going to show you how to make the most of Apertures many tools to organize a single project, using a recent photoshoot as an example.

This job involved shooting a lot of Christmas trees, 6 colors in 2 different styles and 5 different styles. This made for a lot of variety, and I needed to keep track of it in an orderly way. Aperture enabled me to do this, and here’s how…


First of all, my library is organized by date. The folder structure is very simple:


I don’t bother creating folders for each month, as if you preface them with the month, it keeps them in order anyways.

Within that photoshoot folder, I break it down into idividual projects and smart albums.


Smart albums are one of the best things about Aperture. You can create an album based off almost any criteria possible, and Aperture will add the photos for you. All of the smart albums in this project were created using criteria that I will detail below: including flagged images, starred images, and color coded images. This is essential for project workflow.


Flagging is probably the most efficient tool in Aperture for separating images from the pack. My initial tree selections were made by flagging. Then I created smart albums which automatically added the flagged images. It’s a great way to select the best images in your shoot. The command is also very simple to apply – just hit the backslash key (/) which is the same as the ‘?’ key.


Star ratings can be used in a number of ways – obviously to rate the images on a scale of 0-5. But in this case, I used them in a different way. Since my images were already flagged, I used the star ratings to signify that I was finished editing my images. 5 stars and its done – no need to edit any further. This is extremely useful when you have hundreds of images and aren’t sure which ones have been edited yet.


Colors can be tricky. How could you possibly rate photos according to colors? Well, if your photos feature different colors! That’s how. This project was lucky enough to feature colors which are already preset in Aperture, so I labeled each flagged tree accordingly. Then I created smart albums based on those colors to get the final selections. 


If you’re not shooting in RAW by now for commercial projects, you should be. Aperture can edit RAW files easily, and the best part is the control you have over white balance. Considering that some trees where shot in one studio, and half the trees in another studio, I had some white balance issues, but that was pretty easy to solve with the white balance slider.


Aperture can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. With a wide variety of tools at your disposal, you can make sense of the most complex projects. I highly recommend making use of the flag tool, smart albums, star ratings, color coding, and library structure options. It’ll make your photo organization much much easier, faster, and more efficient.



Click for a larger image to see what’s going on inside…

Single Project View

Flagged Photos within a Single Project

Creating a Smart Album based on Flagged Photos

Editing in RAW

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