My Photography Workflow

At BarCamp on Saturday, 2 of the sessions I took part in were led by John Biehler & Scott Prince. First, a photowalk in & around the Discovery Parks building. You can see my photos from that on Flickr. That in and of itself was awesome, and fun to take advantage of such a beautiful day to take photos, rather than just sitting inside. Part 2 was in the afternoon, when John & Scott walked us through their processing workflow; John using Aperture on the Mac, Scott using Lightroom on Windows. While not revelatory, it was neat to hear how other people do it. I thought I’d add my $0.02 to that here:

  1. I take photos. Lots. Not nearly as many as I’d like, or as I should, but I take lots of photos. These are then imported, using Lightroom, into a year/month/day folder structure on my laptop. I recently upgraded the HDD on this machine to 500GB, mostly to accommodate all my photos.
  2. I then leave them there, untouched for a while. I do it partly because I’m busy, but I originally started doing this to give myself creative & editorial distance from the photos. I’m generally too excited about what I did, what I shot when I first get home to be even remotely objective.
  3. I then go through and exhaustively tag all the new photos, with names of people, places, subject-descriptors, categories of photos, the equipment used, everything I can think of for later smart-folder creation.
  4. After tagging, I simply mark the photos that in my gut, give me a good reaction. I do this by flagging the photo.
  5. Filtering the flagged photos, I then process them. Most of the time, I do little more than adjust white-balance, some tonal/exposure corrections & I’m done. About 50% of the time I’ll crop it somewhat, and about 30% of the time I’ll adjust the angle of the photo.
  6. I export this whole set to iPhoto – to catalogue faces, etc. Mostly so that from there the photos get synced to my iPhone. Everytime this feels like a waste of time & space, but I don’t have a better lightroom-only solution as of yet.
  7. I once again go through the flagged photos & unflag the ones that I’m less a fan of after processing. Those that remain flagged get uploaded to Flickr. Historically, that number is between 5 and 10% of the original set of photos imported to Lightroom.

As an aside, John commented that one of the things he liked best about Aperture was how well it integrated into Apple products – such as pulling from Aperture into iTunes – that alone might make it worthwhile to switch for me. Particularly if they add in the “faces” piece from iPhoto, which I, being somewhat anal about these tings, love.

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