Aperture 3 Flag Tool

Earlier today I posted to Twitter that I'd share something I discovered using Aperture 3's Flag feature. Maybe not everyone can work this into their workflow, but perhaps my example will spur some ideas of your own. So, here you go.

If you read my Keyword blog post some month's back, you may recall my rant about the importance of using Keywords and the importance of managing your Keyword List.

To refresh; as most of you know, my primary shooting is in the field of motorsports. This requires me to tag images based on team, car, car number, driver(s), sponsors etc. I have my Keywords grouped and readily accessible.

We just finished the 58th running of the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring. This is a long race and a long week. In fact, by the numbers, it's five days of shooting and equates to about 7000 frames and at least 5000 "keepers." Now, to be fair, let me qualify "keepers." Any image I'm not going to keep gets rejected with the Aperture "X" (control key + 9). If an image stays it gets no stars. If I like it a lot, it gets 3 stars and from their, the real cherry picks get 5 stars. The 5 stars go to the archives on Photoshelter.

After all of my images are sorted and ranked, I'm faced with the task of applying the Keywords. It's critical this is done before I transmit to my Photoshelter site in-as-much as the site relies on embedded keywords for its search tool.  It has to be done and it has to be done right.

Anything with 3 stars or higher gets keywords. In the case of this year's Sebring, that was about 1000 images. A daunting task to say-the-least.

In the past, I would filter for all 3 star or greater images then scroll through the thumbnails, select ALL of one car/team, open up the keyword pallet and drag the appropriate keywords to the image. Then.... lather and repeat... back to the beginning and start scrolling for the next car, selecting my way down the page until I have them all…. then dragging the keywords.

There are 35 or so cars running in the race. So, that means I'm scrolling through the 1000 target images 35 times and selecting teams one by one. Ugh.

In Aperture 3, I still do that… but, before I begin, I set the filter to bring up all 3 star of better images. Only now, once filtered, I select them all and I FLAG them. The "hot" key for doing that is simply the forward slash (/) key. Once all the images are flagged, I unselect and begin culling through and selecting all copies of a given car or team. Once I've selected the full set of a particular car, I drag the keywords from the pallet on to an image (this batch changes them all), BUT… before I go onto the next car, while the previous images are still selected, I choose UNFLAG. Now those images are removed from my browser's view… because now they're not flagged.

Why is this a big deal? Well, in the early rounds of selecting all of one car, it's not. But as you go, the screen full of images (remember it started as 1000) gets thinner and thinner. The benefit being that you're looking through less images.. until ultimately I only have one car left flagged and ready for keywords.

Trust me, it goes much faster.

So, the lesson is, use the FLAG tool as a temporary sorting or grouping tool for browser views. It's this kind of tool that makes Aperture the perfect tool for getting and keeping your photos organized.

Oh… and of those 1000, 135 of them got 5 stars and made their way to Photoshelter.

Think Aperture tools through and use them to create your own shortcuts and helpers for building a more efficient workflow.