35mm Slides on Table with Loupe

It’s one of the first questions photographers ask me when they start investigating Aperture – “What’s a project?”

The entire Aperture approach to image organization hinges on the photographer’s ability to understand the project concept.

I’ve read through Apple’s documentation on this issue and find it helpful, but there are times when we need simple, old-fashioned examples to help explain complicated, new topics.

If you come to understand only one thing about Aperture’s approach to image management, understand this. Each master image can exist in only one Aperture project. Period.

Since your master image is the digital negative of your photo, think of this as a slide. (Remember Kodachrome? If not, you’re much younger than me, and I am jealous.)

Now when you have a stack of slides that you want to organize, you can use slide sleeves to organize and protect them. These sleeves are the metaphorical equal to Aperture’s projects.

There can be only one MASTER slide (master file) and it can only live in one place. That’s the sleeve (project.)

You can sort your slides and move them from one slide sleeve to the other, but you can never have the same slide in two slide sleeves at once. There are no duplicates in this scenario, only originals.

Here’s another way to look at it. Suppose you have three projects. One is called Holidays, the second is called Christmas and the third is called Thanksgiving.

You have 10 images in your Holidays project. One image in your Thanksgiving project, and one image in your Christmas project. Suppose you discover that all the images in your Holidays project are in fact photos of either Christmas or Thanksgiving? You decide to move the five images from your Holidays project that are related to Thanksgiving to the Thanksgiving project. This means you now have a total of six images in the Thanksgiving project. And you move the five images from your Holidays project that are related to Christmas to the Christmas project, giving you a total of six in that project. How many images are left in the Holidays project after the reorganization? If you answered zero, you understand the concept.

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