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A word about Process

The Naples-based UNDERSTAND PHOTOGRAPHY blog is doing a new column inviting some photographers to share their post-event, post-shoot photo processing methods and steps, so TomTracy Photo has come up with a description of our own drill.

The event photo job is done and I am trudging my gear back up a flight of stairs to my home office. But before I put my feet up comes the first stage of my own photography WORKFLOW PROCESS — which I don’t claim is everyone’s definition of the best way — but it has served me well and it’s how I’ve worked since the introduction of Adobe LIGHTROOM especially.
First a word about my files: in wedding, portrait or event photography I always shoot RAW files, or maybe RAW + Jpeg (for reasons we can pass over here). I never shoot only JPEGs.
There are specific short-deadline or action shooting situations (maybe sports, wildlife, daily news situations) where it may be preferable to shoot only JPEGS, but I need and want the initial processing and corrective power of RAW.
It’s time to download the pictures to my Apple IMAC. From day one, I’ve turned off the Lightroom preferences that cause it or other programs to open and import new images after plugging in a memory card reader. Personally I don’t know why people import entire job folders into Lightroom straight away if they won’t keep or use all the redundant and blooper images anyway, so here’s my method:
After the memory card icon appears on my desktop, I manually drag the photo folders direct to the folder of my hard drive, and usually I would have two or three cards to drop into a temporary job folder there. I simultaneously drop them into an external drive or two, in full, for the short term.
With that done, I quick drag the folders of Raw images from my pictures folder into Adobe BRIDGE (a neglected program these days?) and allow it to fully index and read the files. I usually go do chores or start charging batteries etc while it indexes. For a huge folder of images it may be 10 or 15 minutes for Bridge to index RAW files.
I find the sooner I move into the “first look/review” and deleting stage on a job the better, so if I still have the energy to keep working that same night I may jump right into the next stage.
Using Bridge in full screen viewing mode, I move along pretty quickly with one finger on the arrows keys to toggle forwards and backwards, and the other finger on the Delete key. Since I shoot liberally, I delete liberally. I also disable the “confirmation of deletion” dialogue box that pops up every time you want to delete an image in Bridge.
Some photographers use the star rating system to mark files but I just delete, knowing that in the short term I have backups on the external drives and on the SD card too.
I also use Bridge to rename the files, and then go on to Lightroom. Renaming files: I just make up a quick name that I understand, like “9DecParty, or “2018Gala,” or “AllisonWedding”, followed by sequence numbering.
Now I drag the picture folders into Lightroom, and again let it do the business of rendering and indexing the files. I use the full 1:1 rendering for a high-quality preview. It takes time to import & render, so again I go do something else for awhile.
A word about exporting RAW to JPEG: Everyone has their own views and preferences here but I keep the Lightroom file settings “Quality” slider on the higher end during export; the photo IMAGE SIZING settings is another thing to deal with as you need or wish.
Depending on the final projects, I still frequently open select images in Photoshop for tweaking and special adjustments sometimes in LAB mode (a secret sauce of sorts that may be the topic for another essay). I enjoy Adobe PHOTOSHOP and it’s still unbeatable for fine tuning priority images.
Later on when I feel the job is mostly behind me and put to bed, I drag the Raw-file folders from the main hard drive and copy over the related Raw-file folders on the external drives, which saves space by eliminating all those junked-deleted RAW files, and also by saving the Raw files with their new names.