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What is a a digital photography workflow? Your workflow is a system that you use to work and achieve consistent results in an effective manner. Workflows will vary immensely from one person to another but there are still some universal elements that you can learn from and adopt in your own process of creating great photography!
Your workflow is the process that runs from capturing an image or taking a photo of your subject right up until the end when you produce a finished image and deliver it to your audience.
What are the Key Elements that make up the Workflow in Photography?
A well thought out and good workflow will allow you to simplify the process of creation and increase your efficiency. With a good workflow you can achieve more consistent results which is essential if you are working as a freelancer. You can also be confident of delivering good finished results to your clients or audience.
- Camera setup and taking the photo: Every photographer’s workflow starts with the camera system that they are using. Before you even take a photograph you need to decide what kind of camera, lens and tripod you are going to use to create the work you envisage. Do you need a wide angle lens or a flash? Are you going to work from your studio or on the city streets, in the wilderness or at the beach? You also need to select the format which you will take the photos in, for example RAW or JPEG? This will impact your workflow further along in the process; with a RAW file being higher quality but taking up more space and slowing down exporting them to post production software while a JPEG is easier to work with but lower in quality!
- Saving your images and transferring them to your computer: Once you have taken your photograph you should immediately transfer and save the images to a safe location. Transfer the images to your computer with a physical cable or using a wifi connection. Make sure you are using a computer system and software that you know how to use and won’t accidentally press the delete button! This will waste time and could spell disaster if you haven’t also kept the image saved on your camera’s memory card. As well as transferring the images to your computer if you have cloud storage it’s always a great idea to keep at least one copy of the image in a different place, especially if you are particularly pleased with the photo!
- Use photo editing software that you are comfortable with: Making sure you have a good grasp of the software you are using to upload, edit and store your photography will save huge amounts of time and ensure that you don’t lose files, forget to save changes or make costly mistakes. It’s generally better to select one program to work with and really master it instead of trying to use several. It’s well worth your time and money to take a few courses in how to use the software so you can really hit the ground running. It’s important in order to get the most out of your workflow to know what you’re doing practically speaking so you can focus on the creative side of your work while you are completing a project without having to wade through manuals and ‘how to’ posts on forums.
- Sort, Organize and Categorize your photos: Establish a sensible and organized system to store, label, date and categorize your photos. As time goes on you will develop a considerable back catalogue of work and having an easy to navigate filing system will save you time, avoid needless frustration and make it more possible for you to operate professionally with clients and in your own projects. Consider setting up a separate database for each category in which you can file the images in chronological order but also with tags that give a brief description of what the image contains as well as the settings you were using on your camera. Include as much detail as you can including shutter speeds, aperture and ISO settings because this will be a very useful tool in the future for remembering what worked well and finding the images you need for future projects.
- Post Production Process: The post production process can end up being one of the most time consuming aspects of your workflow. To avoid wasting huge amounts of time without really getting the results you were looking for, take advice and study the work of photographers whose work makes use of techniques you would like to employ. Also try to set out with a vision in mind and work towards that instead of going round in circles just guessing at things in the hope that one of the guesses will work! Of course it’s always good to experiment but if you are working to a deadline or on a specific project for a client then knowing how to get the desired outcome is always better than rushing to get things done at the last moment. NOTE: You can also outsource your post production process (Fiverr is one of the platforms where you can find individuals who will do the post production process for you).
- Export and Backup your images: Always backup your work! Save your work in multiple locations once you have completed the post production work so that there is no chance you can lose all that hard work! Put your image files online on a cloud server as well as saving them on a separate detachable hard drive. Make sure you are using a good filing system as well so that things don’t get lost in a chaotic digital mess of random file names which will mean nothing to you 3 months later.
- Publish your work online or print out photos: Are you going to be publishing your work online, printing out photos, posters or delivering the work directly to a client? If you are self publishing the work or using it to build up an audience, make sales or simply create an online presence then working out a good marketing strategy and sticking to it will yield the best results. Consider using Google ads to drive traffic to your work, be sure to leverage the incredible power of social media and keep any online galleries you have up to date and fresh.
Getting Your Workflow Right will let You Concentrate on the Creative side of Your Projects and Supercharge Your Productivity.
All photographers have a workflow and the only difference between them is whether it’s working or not! Getting into a good rhythm and working in an efficient, time saving and organized way will allow you to maximize the utility of the resources that you have available while allowing you to concentrate on the things that make your work unique.
Staying well organized and efficient will help you meet deadlines, produce reliable and consistent results and deliver above expectations for your clients. Try to make time several times a year, say every 3 months, to review your workflow and see if there are areas that you can improve by, for example, upgrading your database filing system or taking an online course in your chosen post production software to stay up to date with new developments and ideas in the field.
Do you use a workflow?