A couple weeks ago, I started writing out some goals I’d like to accomplish in 2011. One of those is to write more “For Photographers” posts and to write them on a more regular basis. So, considering my newly written goal and that it’s been several months since the last one, I figured I’d kick the series back off with….workflow! Ahh yes, the never ending topic of workflow. The workflow you’re currently in never seems to be good enough or quick enough. I always feel like there’s something I could do to speed things up a little and be more efficient. With that said, I’ve ended up, through multiple changes and alterations, with the setup I’m using now. Heck, there’s a good chance that some sort of change will have happened by the time you read this – who knows! But I do like the general flow of images that this process provides. So I thought I’d share the process I’m currently using for any of you photogs out there that might be looking for a change, and hopefully it can help some of you get back a little time in your day, or maybe you can suggest your own processes to me. However, this is certainly not the “right way” to do things – I just happen to like it. So here we go, from the top…
1 – After a shoot or wedding is finished, the first thing I do is backup the images from my cards to my Colorspace backup drive. I either do this on-site while packing up or on the way home because it allows me to have two copies of every image before I get back to my workstation. This drive has the fastest backup rate available and a built-in CF card slot so backing up cards is a piece of cake. Just about any working photographer will admit to being at least a little paranoid about a card becoming corrupted and files being lost so having an almost immediate backup is huge for me.
2 – When I get back to my workstation, I hook up my Colorspace and download the images through Photo Mechanic, which looks something like this… (Image folders & screenshots are not from a single shoot, but just sample window scenarios.)
If you’ve never heard of Photo Mechanic (PM), it’s incredible. Seriously amazing. It’s an image browser and workflow accelerating program. Between the Colorspace and PM, I can create new session folders, import multiple shoots (that may be multiple cards/folders per shoot) and rename the files into a new folder for that shoot, all at once and really quickly. The main reason though that I use PM is to view, sort, and choose my favorites for a blog and complete selection from a shoot. PM can view RAW files faster than anything I know of and it does this by using the RAW file’s embedded jpeg file. I used to use Lightroom for this but the time that PM saves me during this portion of my workflow is more than worth its price, and I highly recommend it. After PM finishes importing all of the files, I copy that new folder over to my Drobo. At this point, there are now 4 copies of the shoot (CF cards, Colorspace, workstation hard drive, Drobo). Now I’ll free myself to clear my cards for another shoot. Once I’ve made my picks in PM, I drag them to a new folder inside the initial folder labeled “LR” for Lightroom.
3 – This new folder is now imported into Lightroom (LR) for color correcting and adjusting.
Since only my picks are imported to LR, this helps keep my catalog smaller and run slightly faster. For weddings, most, if not all, of my editing is done in LR. (Fashion or musician images are color adjusted in LR and then opened in Photoshop (PS) for fine tuning, skin retouching, and anything else needed to create the final image.) Once everything is edited, the finished images are exported from LR as jpegs into another new folder inside the original that will contain only the edited jpeg files. (Usually during the export process, I’ll write emails, run errands, or catch up on my DVR’d episodes of Lie To Me. )
4 – Finally, once LR is done exporting, I can choose images for a blog post. I use Bridge for this by simply giving color labels to the images I want to include and then viewing my selection via the “light table” option.
Once I’m at this point, I open all my blog selects in PS to resize and logo them for web via Blogstomp actions.
I’ve had these actions for a little while now and they get the job done. Finally, I upload these resized images and write the blog. Another 2011 goal of mine is to get my blogging on a regular schedule post-shoot instead of being as sporadic as I’ve been in the past. Since I’ve confessed that on here, that means you have to keep me accountable – preferably nicely. And…DONE!
Like I said at the beginning, my workflow is definitely NOT perfect and I’m always looking for ways to be more efficient. Hopefully this will help at least one person. Heck, just checking out Photo Mechanic is worth your time, and they even have a free trial download to test out! I’d love for you to leave comment at the bottom to let me know your thoughts! Also, if you have any questions or topics you’d like me to talk about in future “For Photographers” posts, you can leave those in the comments too or use the “Contact” tab at the top.
On a completely unrelated note: Apparently Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow this morning so here’s to an early spring! Although, I’m not sure these people would believe him right about now…