My Current Editing Workflow

So yesterday I posted a wedding blog from Lauren and Ethan’s wedding.  And after posting that, I realized something amazing!  In total, I only spent maybe 20 hours editing photos, and I started with 3,500 photos!  Of course, I didn’t keep EVERY photo from the wedding but still, I culled through 3,500 photos (which just means choosing which ones I wanted) using Photo Mechanic (we’ll talk about this), and then edited 750 of them using Lightroom in within twenty hours start to finish.  HOW?!

 

To help demonstrate how you do this, I have some photos that I took last week of my good friend Kelsey!

 

Just for fun I visited her family and we decided to have a one spot challenge!  I need to find where I read about this but it’s in a blog somewhere.  Essentially, you have to stay in ONE SPOT with your subject and you have to see how many unique poses you are able to achieve without moving locations.  So, we chose a brick wall on the back porch and got to shooting!

 

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Now, this post is about talking through my process from start to finish to edit through these 257 photos in 30 minutes.  I don’t know if you did the math, but that’s 504 photos an hour!  Looking back, I’m honestly a little surprised I was able to make this happen…  But I can attest this speed to my WORKFLOW.

 

Basic Definition: workflow is a systematic and consistent uploading, culling, and editing process that maximizes speed and minimizes time spent in front of the computer

 

All workflow is there to do is help you, the photographer, get your work done faster so that you can go enjoy life! This past summer I worked as a photographer at Triple R Ranch, a kid’s camp in southern Virginia. I am ashamed to say that I spent SO MANY HOURS editing photos because I didn’t have a steady process that allowed me to SYSTEMATICALLY and CONSISTENTLY edit through everything. So, that is why I am writing this, to help other photographers like me get their lives back!

 

And without further ado, here we go!

 

1. MANUAL MODE: Every workflow begins with shooting in manual mode. This is essential! Now I know this is scary to a beginner photographer. I mean, you’re just trying to figure out how to get good composition and the last thing you want to worry about is controlling EVERY other setting on your camera. But you MUST. I promise you that if you will learn your camera it will EXPONENTIALLY speed up your editing process. I actually wrote a post last week on the basic basics of manual mode. If it helps you, I’m very glad and it was worth the time. After a few months of practicing on manual, you will not regret this decision. However, the question you may be asking is… well… “Why? Automatic makes pictures look just fine! And that allows me to spend more time taking pictures and less time worrying about all the other stuff.” Yes, I will give you that! On the other hand though, now imagine your editing, where you want every photo to end up LOOKING THE SAME! Here are just a few photos I took of Kelsey.

 

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All very different photos but they FIT together. When I look at them together, they are the same in color and skin tone. If I had shot on automatic, achieving this would have been… Example. During one of the weddings I shot recently, my second shooter shot on Automatic. Not a big deal. In the end I edited all the photos to how I liked them and it all worked out fine. BUT, it probably took me an extra four hours of work, simply because I wasn’t just trying to make all the photos look good, I was trying to make them FIT together. Bottom line, manual is better. Learn it, do it, love it.

 

2. Photo Mechanic: I am so glad that I discovered this on a blog by Katelyn James (an INCREDIBLE photographer who I admire SO MUCH). Single handedly, it has increased my culling speed by at least 3x. Here’s how it looks when you import your photos into it.

 

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You probably notice right away that it looks an awful lot like Lightroom and you’re right! But this $100 program is so worth the cost that I recommend it to every photographer out there who deals with culling through large numbers of photos on a regular basis. I don’t know how they do it, but somehow Photo Mechanic (PM) can load RAW files at crazy speeds! This is an incredible advantage to photographers who have 3,500 photos to go through. Unlike PM, Light Room takes between 5 to 10 seconds to fully load a RAW image. Do the math. If you have 3,500 photos to look at and choose which ones are good BEFORE YOU START EDITING, that means you’re using somewhere between 5 and 10 hours just waiting on images to load. That’s crazy! Second, PM allows you to cull through photos while they are still being imported. So, as soon as you tell the program to start taking files onto your computer, you can start working through your workflow. Also, as if the other two reasons aren’t enough, PM is great because once you have selected which photos you would like to keep, all you have to do is click F3, separating out all the keepers, and simply drag over to Lightroom to begin editing. And Lightroom edits the files at their current location, so there isn’t really any extra import time.

 

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LIGHTROOM: LOVE THIS SOFTWARE. I could be a rep for Adobe. They do a fantastic job with this program! From editing white balance to playing with light, to removing smudges, to creating super cool black and white affects, this program is everything a wedding photographer needs! And here’s where it all comes together! BATCH EDITING! Remember before when you shot on Manual Mode? Here’s why I stress that step so much. If you can consistently create photos that look the same on your camera, then this part becomes almost a joke.  Instead of spending minutes on each and every photo, LR lets you copy your settings from image to image!

 

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See that button on the bottom right of the second photo? Yup? That’s the Sync button. =] I’m going to take a few moments and thank God it exists…

 

And Lightroom has MANY other features that I could go through but get a trial version and test it. You won’t be sorry in the slightest.

 

WOOH! Alright. That’s my flow. The last step (I guess #4) is just to Export (which LR does wonderfully) and hand the product to your client. This in the end is all MY process though. Yours might be completely different. But if you don’t have one yet, this is working for me right now. I’m sure eventually I will have to change this as technology and work changes, but at this moment, this is what I have found to be best. So, you don’t have to do exactly what I do. But find SOMETHING and do it!

 

Just because I THOROUGHLY enjoyed taking pictures of Kelsey (and a few of her siblings), I might as well just post them rest of them here! So enjoy and shoot me any questions you might have to danieljacksonstudios(at)gmail.com.

 

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To God be the glory,

daniel jackson

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