Like any process, it’s important to have a good base to your workflow. Photographers need to understand just how important post-processing is to the whole business of photography. You should picture your workflow as a tree. The roots have to be strong for the tree to grow. Without a solid and efficient process of importing, backing up, keywording, and copyrighting your images the rest of your workflow will suffer. Being efficient means you increase your productivity and your profitability. For portrait and event photographers this means you spend more time finding prospective clients and shooting sessions. As much as I have advocated for post-processing we still make money taking photos not sitting behind a computer. Our post-processing methods need to enhance our business not slow it down. Follow these steps to enhance the first phase of your post production workflow.
Step#1: Secure Your AssetsOur images are our main business assets; they are our bread and butter. Securing our image library is the first stage of professional practice. It is not acceptable to lose images when shooting professionally. Imagine the look on a couple’s face when you tell them your computer crashed and all their precious wedding memories are gone…..
Use the 3-2-1 Method to Secure Your PhotosMost photographers use the 3-2-1 method of securing their work. This means three separate copies of your photographs. Save your work on two different types of media and save one copy in the cloud. Cloud backup options include companies like Dropbox. It’s not overly expensive and can save your business if something goes wrong. Do some research and find a system that works best for you. The more copies of you work that you have stored in different locations the more secure your business. Note: We recommend checking the rights and usage terms for any free services you may choose to use. It’s best to use a paid system free cloud back-ups have their issues most compress photos.
Step#2: Organize Your Photos
a) Create a Hierarchy of SubfoldersAfter deciding on a method of back-up it’s time to organize those files and import your photos. There are many programs that can help you import and organize your work. Three of the most popular programs are Lightroom, Bridge, and Photo Mechanic. For this article, we will discuss methods of organizing using Lightroom and Bridge. I know photographers who rave about Photo Mechanic but I will admit my bias here for using Lightroom. I love the program. The first step is to decide on a root folder for your images. I use the root folder “Pictures” as my home base. This file is located on my computer hard drive. Photographs are then organized into subfolders that define their characteristics.
The key is to organize your photos into manageable subfolders that will make it easy for you to retrieve files.Consider this graphic below and how images might be stored in each folder. This hierarchy divides images by the type of portrait and then further into company names or family names. It’s important to consider a system of labeling that will make it easy to find your work. I know of photographers who organize everything by date and then cross reference their information on a spreadsheet. It works for them… Just try to find a method that is efficient and doesn’t leave you spending hours searching for specific photos. Quick Tip: In Lightroom, you have the option to save your files to a second location. Choose to upload images onto your hard and also to an external drive in one simple step. Lightroom was designed for photographers and truly helps to streamline your workflow. This option is located in the file handling section of the import dialog. Bridge is very similar to Lightroom images are imported into the program through the term “Get Photos from Camera” and you can arrange folders in the same way.