The term “workflow” may have come up in articles about photography and post-processing, especially if the author is a professional photographer. In this article, I’ll explain what a digital photography workflow is and how it works. Due to the large number of variables involved and the lack of a standard workflow that applies to everyone, the workflow process will vary greatly from photographer to photographer. This article should only be used as a starting point for understanding workflows in general, not as gospel truth. Your digital photography workflow will be entirely up to you, and you should design it in a way that best suits your requirements.
What Is Workflow In Digital Photography ?
Using a digital photography workflow, you can work with digital images from start to finish, regardless of where they are stored on your computer. It is made up of a set of interconnected procedures developed by photographers to make their work more streamlined and consistent. A well-established workflow process will not only help you simplify and accelerate the image-editing process, but it will also allow you to stay organized, boost your productivity, and ensure consistency in your work. Even though the workflow process has many steps, these are the most common:
- Setting up the camera and capturing images
- Transferring images to a computer
- Importing images into a photo application
- Organizing and sorting images
- Post-processing images
- Exporting images
- Backing up images
- Printing or publishing images to the web
Let’s go through these one at a time.
1. Setting Up The Camera And Capturing Images
The workflow process begins with your camera, so the settings on your camera and the way you take pictures will have an impact on your workflow. If you shoot in RAW format, your workflow will be more difficult than if you shoot in JPEG format. Why? In order to print or publish, you must first process the RAW images. RAW files also take up a lot of space, so importing, exporting, and backing up will be significantly slower if you use them. If you shoot in JPEG, you’ll have a lot of options when it comes to things like color profiles, image size, compression, and white balance. Although both have their benefits and drawbacks (see my article on JPEG vs RAW), you must choose the one that is most suitable for your needs.
You’ll also have to shoot in brackets/sequences if you want to do HDR or panoramas, which means you’ll have to take another step in the workflow process to do the processing. As a result, you should plan ahead of time on what camera settings and how you want to take pictures.
2. Transferring Images To Your Computer
Transferring images to your computer can be accomplished through a variety of means. In order to begin, you must first connect your SD/CompactFlash card to your computer via a card reader or a USB cable.
In the second step, you will copy the files from your card or camera to your computer. This is the most time-consuming step. Here, you’ll find a plethora of possibilities. Copy the files to a specific folder on your machine using your operating system, or use software like Adobe Bridge, Lightroom, or Capture One. In terms of image importation, I much prefer the second approach. When it comes to transferring images, I use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom a lot. This application has made my workflow a lot simpler because many of the steps outlined here can now be completed using just one piece of software.
3. Importing Images Into A Photo Application
To some extent, this step is dependent on how you go about getting images onto your computer in the first place. When using Capture One or Lightroom, you can save a step by copying and importing images into a photo catalog at the same time, rather than switching between the two programs.
This software has the added benefit of letting you fine-tune the import process and tag images with keywords or other metadata, as well as apply image-processing presets to each individual image as you import it.
4. Organizing And Sorting Images
In order to prevent your images from ending up scattered across your hard drive, you must decide how to organize and sort them once they have been downloaded to your computer. You can organize your photos much better if you use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom or Capture One.
It is possible to add keywords, rank your favorite images with stars, label images with colors, and create custom image groups, among many other options for organizing your images. The benefit of using Lightroom and Capture One is that all image data is stored ina database, making it simple to locate specific images.
It’s also a good time to quickly go through your photos and get rid of any that are blurry or out of focus. Now it’s time to post-process the images we’ve taken.
5. Post-processing Images
You can now sit down and work on your photos after organizing them on your computer and within your preferred photo application.. If your picture looks great right out of the camera, you may wonder if you need to go through this extra step. There will always be images that need some tinkering to make them look better if you shoot in JPEG or RAW, so the answer is “absolutely yes” in both cases.
Post-processing an image is something I will not do because it can be as simple as a one-second fix for an exposure issue or as complex as a multi-step process that could take hours to perfect. Lightroom is where I do the vast majority of my post-processing, and Photoshop is only used when I’m unable to fix something in Lightroom. The efficiency of my workflow is therefore determined by the amount of additional Photoshop work that an image requires.
6. Exporting Images
After you’ve finished editing your images, you’ll want to save them for later use in print or on the web. This time around, there are quite a few things to consider. If you want to print an image, make sure the printing company can handle the image format you want. It’s possible they’ll only accept JPEG files in sRGB color space or they’ll ask for TIFF files in Adobe-RGB color space. The size of the image and the desired printout are also important considerations.
If you’re publishing your photographs on your blog, Flickr, Smugmug, or another website that accepts images, you’ll need to choose which image dimensions to use during the export process and which color space to use (sRGB is the default). If you don’t want other people to know what settings you used when you took the pictures, you may want to remove the EXIF data from your images.
7. Backing Up Your Images
Backups can be started while your computer is exporting images from your photo application. There’s no time like the present to devise a backup strategy if you haven’t already. What happens if your hard drive fails and you lose all of your priceless images? Instead of using a single external hard drive to store all of my images, I now use a redundant setup that includes two mirrored drives. I also back up my images to a different external storage device after every photo shoot. Additionally, I duplicate the data on my external drive to a different drive once a month at a remote location. This may seem like overkill, but I’m confident that my photos are secure and I won’t be unable to retrieve them in the event of a disaster. Don’t forget to make a copy of your Lightroom / Capture One library. Make sure you backup your photos and catalog as well because backing up just one is insufficient.
If you’re a photographer or videographer with a lot of photos and videos, you’ll be happy to know that there are plenty of great backup storage solutions for you out there.
8. Printing Or Publishing To The Web
Printing or putting your photos on the web as a final step is the last step. Use the printing company’s website or a thumb drive/CD to copy/burn your exported images for printing. If the printing company allows this, do it. There is no need to export pictures from Lightroom or Capture One if you want to print them yourself. Most software packages support printing right from the application and give you all the tools you need to print right out of the application, so there is no need to export pictures.
Plugins are readily available for both Lightroom and Capture One that make it easy to publish to popular websites like Flickr, SmugMug, and Facebook directly from your library of images. If you want to post your photos on a website or blog, you’ll need to use the ones you exported in step 1.6.
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If you’re a photographer, the question isn’t if you have a workflow or not (you do), but how effective and reliable it is. When I first started out in photography, my workflow was a complete disaster. I had issues with everything from being unable to find images on my computer to being unable to process hundreds of images at once. The new tools in new versions of Lightroom have made the process much simpler and easier to manage for me after it took me several years to figure out a workflow that keeps me organized and efficient. Even though I’m confident that my workflow will evolve over time due to the availability and affordability of new technologies such as cloud storage, there is no doubt that I’ll add or remove steps from it. Consider going back and reviewing your workflow process to see what you can optimize and improve. You will almost certainly discover new ways to do things that will help you become more organized, efficient, and dependable in the process of doing so. Finally, keep in mind that the information presented above is only a general overview of the workflow process. Each section of your workflow will have more specific steps because your real workflow is much more detailed.
FAQs About Photography Workflows
1. How Many Stages Are in the Standard Digital Workflow?
Each workflow has a certain number of steps, and the complexity of the project determines how many there are. Pre-production, shooting, and post-production are all common stages in the photography process, and each one involves numerous steps. To stay organized, each photographer should create a photography workflow chart of their own.
2. Do You Have to Follow an Exact Photography Workflow?
One of the best things about working in the arts is that you can choose how you want to accomplish your goals. While the methods described above are common, they are by no means the only options. Be open to trying new things until you find a method that works for you.
3. How Do Professional Photographers Backup Their Photos?
Many aspiring photographers are curious about the workflow of seasoned photographers. As a result, losing your photos or SD card is a common rookie mistake. As a result, it is critical that you incorporate regular data backups into your professional photography workflow.
Backup your photos to an external hard drive or a cloud storage service like Dropbox or Google Drive, or upload them to a system like Adobe Lightroom. Professional photographers will stock up on memory cards in addition to backing up their images. This will prevent them from running out of space during a photo shoot.