Workflow is a new buzz word that appears everywhere from making cars to mowing your lawn. Photographers also love to talk about their perfect photography workflow and how their workflow is more efficient than another workflow. In this article I want to take a step back and look at what a perfect photography workflow
What is a workflow anyway?
In general, the term workflow has to do with the “flow” of “work” or in other words the steps necessary to make a product or arrive at a desired end. The manufacturing industry uses terms like production workflow or production process. In document intensive industries like insurance and banking, there is a documentation workflow. Normally, these “workflows” are very complex and they require quite a few people to be involved in their creation. Also, these complex workflows need to be constantly scrutinized for potential bottlenecks and improvements.
When designing a workflow, people that know the particular business inside out will try to define and describe each step in the workflow. Then, once the large steps have been described, each step is broken down into smaller steps. The process of further defining smaller and smaller step continues until the desired granularity is achieved. Usually the process stops when one individual can perform a reasonable number of the steps in the process.
A photography workflow
The process for getting your photos from your digital camera to your computer, editing them, printing or publishing them can be a very complex process as well. So the term workflow can also be applied to managing your digital photos as well. Actually Digital Asset Management and Photography Workflow are synonymous terms…they both refer to the process of managing your digital pictures from creating to storage and retrieval. As with every workflow, any perfect photography workflow must contain certain important steps.
5 basic steps in a perfect photography workflow
- Shoot the pictures – this is where everything starts.
- Transfer the pictures to the computer. There might be an intermediary storage device if you’re shooting lots of pictures in the field.
- Organize the pictures on the computer – this includes renaming pictures, creating folders and applying keywords.
- Retrieve and find pictures. Everything above will influence this step.
- Export the pictures. This step can include multiple steps or functions: backup pictures, email pictures, print pictures and other ways to use your picture collection. This is where you’re using your pictures by exporting them in different formats for different purposes.
I call my perfect photography work low STORE. Once you have these steps down then you can use your organized photo collection to print pictures, publish to the web and e-mail photos. All these extra steps depend completely on creating and organizing your digital photo collection. So, in order for you to produce outputs (prints, e-mails, etc) from your digital photos you must first have that collection of pictures organized in such a way that you can use it in multiple ways…but that’s obvious.
I know that this is a simplistic look at a perfect photography workflow, but I believe they are most common for all photographers. Weather you’re a die-hard photographer or a beginner in photography, you have your own photography workflow. Whether you perform all the steps above or just the first two or three, you still have your own photography workflow.
Where’s the perfect photography workflow?
Well…there is no perfect photography workflow…at least that’s what I think. While these steps are generic for all photographers it is obvious to me that photographers have different purposes and requirements so each has to tailor their photography workflow for what they need. The important thing to remember about any workflow is that it can improved by improving each step in particular and by improving the connection between the individual steps. The question for you is: are you looking at your workflow in order to improve it? Or are you just concerned about taking great pictures and don’t care about the rest? So, in the end, it’s all about you and your goals.
Essentials for organizing your digital photosOver the years I have come to rely on only a few products for managing and backing up my large media collection. These are my essential products and services I have been using for many years to keep things organized and safe. Even though these are affiliate links, I wholeheartedly recommend them.
I recommend using Adobe Lightroom Classic CC via the annual Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. Lightroom has excellent photo editing capabilities. Yes, Lightroom has a steeper learning curve as you have to learn to keep your catalogs in sync with your hard drive. However, Adobe Lightroom makes most sense especially when you do lots of image editing.
If you don't like the subscription, you can get also download the last standalone Adobe Lightroom 6 for Mac or Windows (while it is still available). However, the product is no longer maintained by Adobe.
Excellent Lightroom and Picasa alternative. If you're looking for a cheaper and simpler photo manager then ACDSee Photo Studio for Mac or ACDSee Pro for Windows is my preferred solution for organizing your media on your computer. It has a very fast browser, beautiful image editing capabilities and you don't work with catalogs at all.
In addition, make sure you have an inexpensive and reliable external hard drive for backing everything up. It is absolutely essential for backing up your media regularly.
If you're looking for a reliable unlimited cloud backup service, I recommend Backblaze Cloud Backup. I have used Backblaze for my online backup for more than 3 years now. All my files are safe and secure and I have never had any problems with them.