One of the most buzzed about words in photography today is workflow. It overwhelms many photographers to try and design a series of steps for handling images. The thing about workflow is that it has to be repeatable. If it’s not a process that you can repeat, you don’t have a workflow.
For me, my workflow goes like this:
- Copy images from my memory card into a folder
- Import all of the images into Lightroom
- Cull images, cutting them down to just the keepers
- Edit the images to perfection
- Export and deliver.
Those five steps handle 95% of what I need to do with my photographers.
The thing about workflow is that it has to be repeatable.
Let me also backtrack a bit here; I have to admit that those five steps don’t cover everything I need to do. No, a workflow won’t accommodate every single situation. You have to be flexible. I think this point is essential because when I used to design my workflow, I would throw every situation at it to see if it worked. I would riddle myself with ridiculous questions like, “What if I get asked for a single image 1000 pixels wide for a guest blogging job?”
That’s not a part of my workflow, but thank goodness that Lightroom’s catalog system is flexible enough to go back and get the images I need at a moment’s notice. I don’t have to design a bulletproof workflow – I can design a flexible one that I think can meet my needs.
Your workflow is for your sanity. Don’t let your quest for the perfect one keep you from using Lightroom. Take baby steps toward getting your images organized, and that’s good enough for me. This is all about progress, not perfection. 😀
There are three questions I ask photographers about their workflow. If they pass these three questions, I tell them they are doing a good job:
- Could you get to an image within a few minutes if needed?
- Are your images stored safely and backed up?
- Do you spend more time thinking about photography than your workflow?
This post may seem like a bit of a mixed message: on one hand, I want to really encourage you to have a repeatable workflow action that helps you keep your images together. On the other hand, I hate when photographers become so stressed about workflow that they lose track of shooting. Ultimately, there’s a balance here that every photographer has to find. I spent too much time talking workflow last year, so I learned to let go of having the perfectly organized system.
How do you handle your workflow? Do you have a specific routine in mind or are you struggling to design one? I’m excited to hear about what you are doing in the comments below.