Workflow

My workflow will probably be vastly different than yours or than other photographers. I create a digital package whereby I give a disc with high-resolution (native file size meaning the same size my camera produces) printable images. You may do things differently. I also give clients at least one photo per minute, plus a B&W for every color picture which adds up when I shoot an 18-hour wedding. That’s why I invested in some additional products that help me to organize and edit my photos. If you’re doing smaller packages and you aren’t offering additional retouching/polishing then some of the information below won’t apply to your business.

VIDEO 1 – Workflow – FILE STRUCTURE & ORGANIZING PHOTOS
(you can click on the bottom right corner to view full-screen)

FILE STRUCTURE
To keep myself organized, I like to follow the same methodology for labeling the files on my hard drive(s). Every time I purchase a new hard drive I create a folder called “WeddingsYEAR” and that’s where I store all of my wedding files. I then create a folder for each couple with a consistent name (I always put the bride’s first name, hyphen, then groom’s first name and if it’s a same sex couple then I do it in alphabetical order). That way I can always find my files.
/Weddings2014/Janice-Stuart or /Weddings2014/Barb-Sue

I then create two folders in each wedding folder. One folder is called /all files/ and the other folder is called /chosenBarb-Sue/

COPYING FILES
I know there are other methods, but I prefer to copy the files from my memory card (with a memory card reader) straight onto the hard drive. I don’t upload them into Lightroom, Bridge, PhotoMechanic or any other program… I only copy them directly to the hard drive into the folder I created called /chosenBarb-Sue/

VIEWING & CULLING IMAGES
Now that I have all the RAW files copied to a hard drive (and backed up onto another hard drive), I then use a program called PhotoMechanic. PhotoMechanic allows me to see all my RAW files instantly, without any delay to create previews. PhotoMechanic is $150-$200 and I purchased it because I process a large amount of files and I don’t want to wait a million years for previews to builid (especially for photos I won’t give the couple). It was worth it to me to purchase PhotoMechanic because it saves me a considerable amount of time in my workflow. You can download a trial version online at http://www.photomechanic.com to give it a try and see if it would be worth the investment for you and your own workflow.

I go through each RAW image and decide if it’s a keeper. I only type the number 1 when I know I’m going to give the file to the couple and I don’t click anything if I’m not choosing the file. So, I just move file to file tagging a photo as “1” if it’s a winner. It takes me about an hour per 2,000 images to make my selections and I find it fairly easy to decide if a photo is in or out. My packages include an unlimited number of files rather than a quota of, say, 300 images or 400 images. The only images I don’t select are extremely unflattering ones, or where I’m experimenting and something didn’t turn out, if someone has food in their mouths or are in mid-sentence. If I clicked the shutter five times in a second I’ll choose the best one of a series rather than every millisecond of movement. This allows me to cull very quickly and I don’t ponder over photos for very long.

Once I have all the files I want selected I move the labeled images (labeled #1) to the folder I created for the couple /weddings2014/Barb-Sue/ChosenBarb-Sue/ I leave the unchosen images in the original folder.

VIDEO 2 – Workflow – CULLING WITH PHOTO MECHANIC
(click on the bottom right corner to view full-screen)

IMPORT TO LIGHTROOM
I then import the chosen RAW files from the folder /ChosenBarb-Sue/ into Lightroom 5.0. I always choose to create a “standard” preview and a “smartpreview.” This allows me to work on my files quickly once the previews load. Waiting for previews to load takes forever and it annoys me to no end.

LIGHTROOM
The one thing I apply to all of my images initially is the calibration. Changing the calibration means I get punchy images immediately, which I like. A lot of the calibration settings add too much red or magenta so I sometimes reduce the saturation (on the calibration setting only – not on the overall saturation setting) for the reds by about -12.

(an update on this… I have the new two-month-old Nikon D810 and there is no calibration setting for this camera besides the generic “camera standard” “camera vivid,” etc., so I find I have to do other things with this one.

LIGHTROOM PRESETS
I do use Lightroom Presets and to be honest I’ve spent a fortune on them to find I only use a few. My new favourite is Pretty Presets at http://www.lightroompresets.com/. I use the workflow style ones and the brushes and surprisingly (since I use them so much) they were very affordable compared to other presets you can buy. This company does sell lots of colourized presets – meaning it will change the colour of your image into something with a blue tone, a hazy tone, etc., and all the stuff that’s in vogue right now. I prefer just the regular workflow presets – the ones that keep my colours the same, but punchy. I always worry that anything too trendy right now will go out of style very fast. Remember selective colour images?? That was in style only seven years ago and people make fun of those images now. I have (and use) the following presets from this company:
1) Perfect Portrait Retouch and Makeup Brush Collection (although I do most of my retouching in Photoshop – I only use this on one or two images – it’s just a preference. My friend Eunice uses the brushes on almost all of her portraits using the preset).
2) Pretty Presets Workflow Set(my favourite is “all in one clean edit.” With this specific preset, I tweaked it so that the vibrance and saturation are 0 and not +5 (I don’t like increased saturation effects in Lightroom and prefer that stuff tweaked in Photoshop). You will also need to adjust the exposure accordingly. I also like colour casts fix red, clarity soften for babies and women, WB Warm a little.
3) Color Luxe Workflow Presets (I only use the “recover clipping,” “vignette” and the “Reduce Reds and Casts” from this set – a waste, I realize, but I want to keep my workflow simple and consistent and these are the ones that don’t incorporate too much of a “heavy hand” in the look of my post-processing).
I organize the presets I use a lot into a folder called “FREQUENT.”

I also use VSCO Film Preset #1 (I tweak everything so that there is NO GRAIN) and I like the Portra 160 preset. Plus, I sometimes use Totally Rad Replichrome (again, I tweak out the grain).

VIDEO 3 – Workflow – LIGHTROOM PART 1
(click on the bottom right corner to view full-screen)

FAST LIGHTROOM PROCESSING
I’m able to whip thorough my Lightroom processing using a keyboard I purchased from RPG keys (more information here). It’s a special keyboard that allows me to program in the presets I use the most, as well as use a keyboard (not my mouse) to adjust the major sliders in the “Develop Mode” quickly. I find mousing (or using my pen/tablet) hurts my hand after too much use and there aren’t as many keyboard shortcuts with Lightroom. That means a lot of mousing just to click over to “exposure” and increase the slider. I also find that since I have the keyboard memorized (I’m a fast typist) I can go through my Lightroom edits in a matter of a couple of hours, not days. Before spending the money, decide how much mousing is impacting your hand and how much volume you’re doing in Lightroom. It’s only worth the money if you are doing high, high volumes. The keyboard is expensive, but worth it to me.

VIDEO 4 – Workflow – LIGHTROOM PART 2
(again, click on bottom right corner to view full-screen)

VIDEO 5 – Slideshow Edits – JUST AN EXAMPLE OF A FINISHED SNEAK PEEK SLIDESHOW
(you can also opt to view full screen)

LIGHTROOM EXPORT SETTINGS
I export Lightroom at 280 dpi and just keep the resolution native, meaning the same resolution as the camera. I keep the quality at 10 (not 12) because I read somewhere that the extra two points don’t do much except add to the size of the file. I don’t downsize. This is part of my offer to my own clients. If you have something different (like you only make 4×6 prints) this method likely won’t work for you. I save all the files as .JPEGs and this is what I use to edit. I don’t create PSD files or any other format. I only create JPEGs.

DECIDING WHAT TO EDIT IN PHOTOSHOP
After I’ve exported the files, I go back to my trusty Photo Mechanic and decide if there are additional files I’d like to tweak in Photoshop. Usually, it’s about 10% of the files. I tweak a few things:
1) Skin, if needed
2) I lighten or darken an area
3) I may add an extra punch/contrast to an image – or use the Totally Rad Boutwell Magic Glasses to do my sharpening if it’s a bit soft. (see the tutorial on the actions I use)

I then move the files I want to edit into Photoshop into a separate folder “PHOTOSHOP”.

FASTER PROCESSING IN PHOTOSHOP
Like I said, I prefer not to mouse too much and it’s annoying to open up files (and wait for previews) in Bridge, or to open into Photoshop directly from PhotoMechanic. I purchased a great product (thanks Kevin Heslin for the recommendation) called Mike D’s Autoloader (more information here) for around $80 and it allows me to just click “F5″ and when I’m done with one image the next one loads. That means I get to skip mousing or moving from one program like Bridge and back into Photoshop. This little time saver is a gem. Of course, this is only worth the money if you’re dealing with very high volume. It was worth it to me because of the number of files I provide to wedding clients.

The rest of my PHOTOSHOP tips are contained in the extra tutorials I’ve created. :)

I work on the colour image only and then batch process an extra (second) copy into B&W using the Gradient tool (see tutorial). This allows me to give my clients both a B&W and colour image and it a) saves them from coming back to me for a colour version and b) adds value to my service. Its a simple thing for me to do and I find using the Gradient tool makes beautiful B&Ws about 98% of the time (but only if the colour image is properly lightened/darkened/punched up, etc.).

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