Having an organised workflow is the key to creating a time saving system and keeping your files organised. There are many ways to make your workflow more efficient and these methods can ensure your files are easily accessible. The two most widely used programs that photographers use to catalog images are Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Bridge, while Lightroom is a great program that suits a range of photographers, as a fashion photographer I find it limiting and unstructured so I’ll be including Bridge in my workflow tips.
I’m going to run through my post-shoot process of file handling, taking you through uploading your images straight from camera to sending your files directly to your client. There are many ways to keep your professional files organised and developing a system of your own will minimise the amount of missing files which is a win!
Step 1: It is essential that you have at least two copies of your files before you delete them off your SD card so after copying them to your desktop try to make another copy on an external hard drive (I always come back and update these files once they’ve been sorted and edited).
Step 2: After copying them onto my desktop I open Adobe Bridge and double check that all my files have successfully been copied over. I like to rename the files so if I’m searching for them later, I can quickly access them (I use the batch rename feature in Bridge and rename them from NIK_2093 to OCTONCAMPAIGN_001). I will also have a system for naming my folders so they appear in the correct order and I can keep track of how much I’m shooting every month. My most recent shoot would be put in a folder called 16_0410_BANDE CAMPAIGN which is 2016, April the 10th and the name of the brand.
Step 3: After my files have been renamed I create 4 folders inside my main folder with all my raw images, these four folders are Outtakes, Selects, Edited TIFFs and Final JPEGs. I’ll then sort through all my images from the shoot and put them into outtakes or selects. I’ll also delete all the dud and test images to ensure that my hard drive/desktop is kept clean and try to minimise the amount of hard drive space I’m using. This is why I enjoy using Bridge more then Lightroom because I have my selections saved on my desktop instead of a catalogue, catalogues can crash or be on a separate hard drive to what you have on you and causes problems down the road. Using Bridge enables me to know that what I see and change in Bridge will be the same in Finder.
Step 4: After I’ve finished my selection I’ll do a batch edit to change the colour temperature or add some punch to the highlights. This is so either myself or the client can make the final selection of images based raw images that look closer to the final product. I’ll highlight all the selected images in Bridge and hit enter which will open the raw files into ACR in Photoshop. This is where I’ll make those quick global adjustments and save them by hitting Done instead of Open.
Step 5: For most of my commercial jobs the client will select the final images. So once the files have had a few adjustments I will make a proof sheet (or contact sheet) in Bridge which I can then send to the client. You can make these by going to Tools > Photoshop > Contact Sheets II and then I will usually put 9 images per page. I then turn this into a PDF and send over to my client for them to choose from. The client comes back with their selection and I use the colour tabs in Bridge to highlight their selection. You can come up with your own colour system but I usually use yellow (Command 7) for marking their chosen images and then green (Command 8) once I’ve processed it.
Step 6: I then bring the selected images into photoshop and make all my alterations such as tone, warmth, contrast, skin retouching and fixing any small issues with the clothes or background.
Step 7: Once I’ve finished editing all the files, the final step is to convert all the edited TIFFs into JPEGs. I do this by going to Tools > Photoshop > Image Processor. I pick the correct size/resolution for the client which will vary on whether the images are for social media, website or print. Once they’ve converted I put them into the Final Jpegs folder and use wetransfer.com to send them to the clients email address. I like using wetransfer.com because it requires the recipient to download file directly onto their own computer to view them ensuring they have saved the photos.
This is just a guide of how one workflow can work, making your own adjustment to suit your needs will help create your own perfect workflow. A fast and efficient workflow ensures that you spend more time outside shooting then staying by your screen sorting all day - which is where we’d rather be!