Since getting my first digital camera in 2001, I've had a loose system for organising my photos. As I'm sure many of you do, I had a hierarchical series of year and month folders, with individual events under these. Photos retained their original filenames, but with dash separated "tags".
It stood the test of time, but cracks started to appear. If I shot RAW with a JPEG preview, the OS treated them as separate images. If I wanted to modify an image, I had to be careful to duplicate it first, or Save As. I'll admit I clobbered more than a few photos.
None of this will sound (look?) new to seasoned photographers. Not being one though, it was New To Me™, and therefore worth exploring.
The other players
Over the last few years, I've tried digiKam, Shotwell, iPhoto and Aperture 2 with mixed success. All are capable tools that allow you to import your photos, edit them non-destructively, add metadata and organise them.
And yet, after I'd commit to one, I'd slowly drift back to my filesystem based approach. It wasn't a conscious decision; I'd import one day's worth of photos to a folder and tell myself I'd "organise them later". Then another folder. Then another ten. Pretty soon I had three sets of photos; those in the photo organiser, those I had yet to import before, and new ones.
On a deeper level, I must have felt I wasn't getting enough benefit over my primitive directory based system to justify their use.
And then, on a whim, I decided to try Aperture again.
I don't remember enough about Aperture 2 to make a detailed comparison. So far though, I've taken to it like a certain water–based avian animal takes to the aformentioned aqueos beverage. After taking the time to understand the difference between Projects, Albums and Folders, I've begun importaing all my photos into it.
I can't quite describe it, but it's given me a renewed interested in ameateur photography. Taking photos out in the real world, then organising them in Aperture satistfies my (albeit limited!) creative side, and my manically metadata organisational side. As an IT professional, I should be able to express my love for this software in more concrete, quantitiative terms, but all those seem superficial to how Aperture feels to use.
With apologies to Norma Jeane Baker, we'll see if Aperture overcomes my photo organiser seven day itch.