I’ve never been entirely convinced that my Aperture ratings system is adequate. I changed it way too many times and finally settled on one more out of frustration with having my photographs all over the place than anything else. Either way, I don’t think I’ll be changing it any time soon... unless I discover (or somebody shows me) a much smarter way.
I did search the web for what others were doing, but couldn’t find much regarding Aperture ratings. It seems photographers don’t like sharing this kind of thing. Or maybe they’re just as confused as I am about the whole thing so I’m posting what I do. Hopefully it’ll help you to decide on a rating strategy that works for you.
In Aperture, you use stars to rate your photographs. As the screenshot above shows, you have from no stars for “unrated” images up to 5 stars. There’s also a “reject” mode for those shots that just don’t cut it.
Aperture has a “pick” button that I never use as it assigns 5 stars to the image. To me, a 5 star image is a final, edited, and superb shot. And there are very few of those in my library. This is one aspect that I feel Lightroom is superior, as it gives you not only stars, but a flag for “pick” or “reject”, and you can even assign colors to the shots.
So, here’s what the stars mean to me:
- 0 Stars - All photographs are “unrated” on import. I leave unrated my average shots, those not bad enough to delete
- 1 Star - Picks on First pass. As I go through my photographs, I assign 1 star to my “picks”. Basically any shot I consider decent.
- 2 Stars - Picks to Edit. I do a second pass of the 1 stars and give an extra star to the best of the shoot. These are the ones I’ll spend some time editing.
- 3 Stars - Edited. Once I’ve done some post-processing and I’m happy with the results, I’ll give them 3 stars. These are the final photographs.
- 4 Stars - Out of the final ones, I’ll give 4 stars to the best of the shoot. Very few get 4 stars.
- 5 Stars - Portfolio Shots. Some photographs may not have any 5 star shots. I reserve this for my very best only.
As I go through the first pass, I also mark as “reject” the photographs I know I won’t want to keep.
Aperture makes it really easy to go through a shoot and rate your photographs. I almost always go into full screen and use the keyboard to rate them as I go along. The numbers in the keyboard correspond to the amount of stars, and hitting the 9 marks them as rejects. I advance to the next shot with the arrow keys.
So there it is. That's my Aperture ratings workflow.