When I started my wedding photography business a little over a year ago, the volume of my digital images shot up over a hundred percent. No longer post-processing an occasional 50 or so family or street photography images from a typical shoot, I now on a regular basis shoot and import 800-1200 photos at a time. And because I don’t like putting all my eggs in one basket, I still shy away from capturing all my images on a few 4 or 8 gig size media cards. I feel much better filling up about eight 1-2 gig cards per wedding. I could maybe scale back to six cards, but that’s as far as I would like to go right now.
So with eight cards and a pretty fast SanDisk reader, it takes me anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes to import images from those individual cards into Aperture. Each of my media cards is numbered (a tip I learned from Tom Lee’s very useful book, Digital Capture and Workflow for Professional Photographers) so I can know exactly what order I shot them, and each imported card is reflected in a separate project file in Aperture, so I’m assured that I’ve imported all the photos I took at the wedding.
While the numbering of cards has been helpful to my workflow, I didn’t like the time it took to import each card. So two months ago I lucked upon a very good used Epson P-2000 40 gig media storage and playback device from H&P for like $250, which is what I think the original price should be. Other more costly models with higher storage memory and improved features for RAW photos exist on the market today, but the P-2000 model fits my needs for now.
Using the P-2000
First off, using this device provides me a great way to back up my RAW image files while I’m on the shoot. I have the P-2000 and my media cards in a pouch that I wear on my belt at all times during the wedding. After I feel up a card, and when the time permits, I simply slip the card in the P-2000 and set it to import. While it’s importing, I put the device back into my pouch and go about my job of capturing the wedding. The import process is slow (about 15 minutes per card), but it’s not an issue when you’re off doing something else.
Tip 1: While it’s easy to just allow the P-2000 to import your images and put them in folders for you, you’ll find that when you hook up the device to your computer to capture in Aperture, you have to search through several folders or directories to find the actual photos you captured. It’s a serious waste of time.
The folder/directory structure of the P-2000
So while on the shoot I found that it was best to have the P-2000 both import images and put them in a custom named album. It will take about twice as long for images to be imported into the device when you tell it to also copy images into an album. But it only takes a few seconds to create a new album with a custom name. You don’t have to be fancy with the naming. The object is to just get those photos quickly stored and managed. The P-2000 also comes with pre-named albums that you can you use.
As I import more cards, I simply have the P-2000 capture and copy them to the same custom album. That way, by the end of the wedding shoot, I have all the photos I shot and copied to one album, and a unique folder for each imported card. Equally important, I now have an almost instant back-up of all my images. Of course, I never reformat my cards until I actually prepare for another client shoot.
Tip 2: There’s two ways to quickly check if your photos were actually imported. In the Home window of the P-2000, there’s an icon for Latest Data. You click on that and it will display thumbnails of all your last imported images. You can also click on the Saved Data icon and it will show you folders of each of your imported cards. Each import is put in a separate folder which is numbered and dated. So if you imported six cards on particular shoot, you have six unique folders that reflect that day’s shoot.
Now the problem with having the P-2000 import and copy files to an album is that it of course requires more battery use. The battery last a good amount of time, but on a few occasions it has gotten too low for me to import the last card or two of the day. I had to wait until I plugged the device into an electrical outlet to finish the importing. My goal however is to get all the cards imported during the shoot or at least during my drive home. So I’ve ordered a car battery charger for the device to solve this problem.
Importing to Aperture
With all the cards imported into the P-2000, I simply set it up to capture in Aperture. This process is pretty simple; however, it would be great if the custom name I gave for an album would actually show up in the Finder instead of the number title assigned to each created album. But other than that, I can now import all my 800-1200 wedding photos into Aperture without having to babysit the process of importing one card at a time at my desk. With this method each wedding shoot goes into one project file.
The Album folder structure for the P-2000
There are similar devices for portable image storage, but I simply like the design of the Epson P-2000 and the ability to actually see the photos I import into the device. Other less costly devices only tell you that files have been imported, but you can’t actually see them. I don’t trust that. Plus, though I haven’t done it yet, you can use the P-2000 to plug into a television set or projector and run a slide show on the spot. Clients can also view their photos right on the device itself.
My goal is to complete wedding projects in a 1-2 weeks with no more than six hours of post-processing time for a typical wedding. Using the Epson P-2000 with Aperture is certainly helping me reach that goal.