Recently I started to test Apple’s Aperture vs Adobe’s Lightroom 4 as tools for my photo workflow. This is a question right up my alley. I work in Operations and have a Master’s Degree in Operations so the workflow side of managing a large volume of photos efficiently to reduce cost and stress and to maximize revenue or at least personal satisfaction is a sweet spot convergence of my interests and skills.
At work, we would call this exercise “creating the business architecture for scalability.” It basically means getting your working foundation set right so you can grow in volume and revenue. The tools I’ve tried before simply are not scalable.
Folder structure architectures are too many levels deep. The access paths are vertical with many
clicks when horizontals would be faster. iPhoto has tagging functionality but somehow still doesn’t help me find my photos. When I have asked other photographers how they organize their photos to find them I get a variety of responses; a shoulder shrug, a sideways glance as if I were asking about trade secrets, and the occasional “I use Lightroom Catalogue” or “Aperture”. Adobe’s profiles of Nevada Weir whom I wrote about earlier and Ryan Heffernan are fairly high level in this area. I think I’m going to have to dig down and drill deep.
I decided to compare Aperture vs Lightroom 4 to see if these tools would help me handle the volume of photos. I could easily picture a table with 3 columns: Feature, Aperture and Lightroom 4. For example, in terms of platforms Aperture is only available on Apple. Lightroom is available for both MAC and PC. Aperture costs $79 and is available through the app store. Lightroom costs….well, I haven’t warmed to Adobe’s new business model pricing schemes yet.
However, before I could make such a table, I needed to understand what miracles I expected this tool to do for me. What are the criteria? What problem am I trying to solve? What is the shape of it? What is it and what is it not? So I got started.
Do I need it to edit? No. Would it be nice to have editing features in it? Yes.
Do I need it to find photos? Yes, with over 7,000 photos in the last 16 months from my iPhone 4 alone and many before that spread across multiple analog and digital devices from Canon to Holga, and more to come, emphatically, Yes!
How will I find photos? By tag, but what tags? Which tags are important? Stage (Do, Doing, Done), Size (print, web) and Signed (yes, no) are important attributes, editing tool provenance would be nice, a sort of editing tool history and it would also be nice to know if this photo was posted to Instagram, used in a book or sent as a Postcard so usage is also important. Here’s a swag at what I think I need:
- Stage (Do, Doing, Done)
- Size (Print, Web)
- Signed (yes, no)
- Social Media Usage: Promoted in which Social Media channel (which blog, FB, Instagram, Google+,etc. )
- Product Offerings: Books, prints, licensed, etc
- Product Offering Channel: SmugMug, Red Bubble, Blurb, App Store etc
- Audience: which groups of people specifically would be interested in this image
- Editing Tool History: Which apps did I use and in what order
- Sales History (buyer, channel, price, notes for follow-up, reason for buying)
- Edition History (x/y)
Wow! That’s a lot and I haven’t even started looking at the tools. Clearly there’s more to learn here and an example to follow or workflow template to leverage would help a lot.
Who has a workflow model that’s working for you? What tools do you use?