Hello fellow photographers and welcome to my 8 Week Photographer Series. This week we are diving into Photo Workflows.
Workflows are defined as “the sequence of industrial, administrative, or other processes through which a piece of work passes from initiation to completion.” Simply put, it’s something that’s like shampoo, rinse & repeatable. I’ve put together a worksheet for you (if you’re a part of the email list, it’s already in your inbox!) at the bottom of the post so after we’ve walked through all the steps, you can craft your own or simply duplicate mine. Let’s dive in.
Photo Workflow Steps
This process is going to start from the moment you’re done shooting and are wrapped up on the day of.
1. Download your images to your main editing hard drive.
I use 2 Lacie 5 TB external drives. One as a main, one as a mirrored backup.
In my drives, I use the above folder structure so I can keep track of everyone chronologically. This structure is easy to navigate and simple for anyone to hop in and find what they need (like your VA!).
2. Run a SuperDuper! backup.
SuperDuper! is a simple backup software that you can purchase here. It’s a one-time purchase (frick yeah!) and will help make backups easy. Using the backup hard drive, I simply have Drive 1 mirrored to Drive 2. It will copy over all new and updated files to the backup drive automatically.
**protip, when formating your drives, make sure they are easy to differentiate when mounted onto your computer. Have one clearly labeled BACKUP, so that you never accidentally write over the wrong drive**
This is also where you could consider a Cloud-Based backup like BackBlaze. This is an online service that will back up your files automatically once installed. One con to take into consideration is files size and time uploading. When uploading large quantities of RAW files to the cloud, it will eat into your data usage with your internet provider. Turns out, “Unlimited Data” through Comcast really means up to 1TB per household.
…if you’re thinking about skipping this step I HIGHLY ENCOURAGE YOU to not. I’ve heard of too many photographers who have lost ENTIRE SEASONS worth of work because they had no backups. Data recovery can only go to far, so build in your backups NOW. One day, you just might thank yourself.
3. Store 1 set of SD cards in a fireproof safe
Yes, literally take your SD cards, label them in cases, and put them in a fireproof safe. Always having a hard copy stored in a secondary location is a good idea for extra backups. That way, even if BOTH your drives somehow fail, you still have the photos no matter what.
4. Cull Your Session Using Photo Mechanic
Photo Mechanic is a great software for culling images fast! There are several options like Narrative Select or Adobe Bridge, but I have found Photo Mechanic is best for me. I will cull my full session or wedding using two colors.
Orange = Full Cull
Blue = Preview Image
Since I send out previews to my couples within 48 hours of their event, this is typically just a quick highlight. Having them separated helps me in my next steps.
5. Import Preview Images into Lightroom | Edit | Send to Client
I will first import my preview images (aka, blue culled images) into my LR catalog so I can edit those quickly and separately to send to the client.
6. Import All Images into Lightroom | Send to Editor
After I’ve exported the preview images and sent those off, I will import the remaining files and send those off to the editor. If you chose to edit your own images, you can either save that editing work for another day or just dive in straight away.
7. Run a Secondary SuperDuper!
This run is to save cull data & exported preview images
8. Refine Images Upon Return from Editor
Once my images are back, it never matters how amazing the editor is, there will always be tweaks. I go in for a quick image by image scan to ensure the edits are up to my standard and match the style of the preview I recently sent to the client. If your final images look different than what they’ve already seen, you’re going to have a few raised eyebrows. Consistency is Queen here.
9. Export High-Resolution Files to Your Processed Folder
Images should always be at least 300dpi and uncompressed. To save on file size without compromising quality, check out JPEGmini as a LR plugin option.
10. Reorder Images into Story Telling Format
Using Photo Mechanic, I then reorder all my images into a storytelling sequence. On the day of a wedding, for instance, we tend to shoot things out of order out of necessity. Snagging a few detail shots when we can or a landscape of the venue just before the ceremony. That being said, the best client experience is to see their images in STORY format, not CHRONOLOGICAL format. You may have photographed the cake the moment you arrived at the venue, but that photo is not relevant until the reception.
When thinking of sequence, I will typically use this formula…mostly.
– Set the scene (wide)
– Pull the viewer into the moment (mid)
– Showcase an emotion (tight)
The best advice I ever got was from Benj Haisch, who advised thinking of your images like a storyboard for a movie. How would the direct sequence them so that the viewer ‘got it’, ya know?
11. Rename Your Files
This is a big one guys. Nobody and I mean, NOBODY wants random file names on their personal, emotional, and oh-so-special wedding images like “DSC_0997”. So please, take two seconds to rename your files with at least the clients’ names. Here is the naming format I use:
ClientNames_Venue_XXX (i.e., LeannaTyler_ColumbiaWinery_001)
12. Upload Images to Gallery
I personally use Pic-Time for my client galleries. They store high res images for up to 10 years as another set of backups, have automated email marketing for print sales, and are very aesthetically pleasing for clients to view. You can use code: NKV2WK to get 1 month free over at www.Pic-Time.com
13. Rinse & Repeat
I remove the SD cards from the fireproof safe, format them, and load them up into my card case for my next session.
The Wrap Up
Having a photo workflow for your images is critical to ensure that you never miss a step, never lose a file, and always have your ducks in a row. Feel free to take what you like, leave what you don’t, and make this workflow your own. Part of your worksheet is a space to outline what YOU want to do for YOUR business.
Thanks franz, we’ll see you next week!
p.s. If you need more happy reading, head over to our Education Page!