Lightroom Workflow

I think that over the last few days I’ve finished the hardest selection job I’ve had yet on a shoot. Partly because I’ve been neglecting the photos, every time I’ve sat down to go edit my way through the set there’s been about 20-30 that stick out and could be an awesome picture each on they’re own or in a set. The biggest problem is not that they’re all awesome pictures, it’s that they are all similarly themed, roses, white backdrop, red dress, Dani Jae. So how do I go about editing / selecting / picking those final shots?

Dreams of RosesMy actual work flow varies slightly between shoots and I’m always looking for ways to get it faster, better, and more consistent, but here’s the basics for anyone interested.

  1. Import the photos with convert to DNG and a basic noise / sharpening preset applied.
  2. Fast pass, any photo worth looking at gets a 1 star
  3. Second pass, is a slightly more refined, its the pass that says: If it’s a picture of my sister would my mom even be interested in looking at it? It’s an “All photos are in by default, you need to opt out the photos you don’t want.”
  4. At this point, I’ve removed around ~10-15% of the photos, the next pass is a “Would I want my client to see this or potentially buy this?” If you don’t think it would be good for who you are as a photographer or your business, it doesn’t pass. Otherwise, 3 stars. After this, I filter it down to just the 3 star images, pick out similar series of images and apply mass edits to the set. I will pick out one image that I feel like working on, play with it in develop with the white-balance, various presets, exposure, etc… until I have a great looking image, at that point I copy the develop settings and paste it onto all similarly lit images. Wash, rinse and repeat throughout sets of similar images.
    This stage varies on the shoot, some shoots I’ll shoot a thousand images and only have a 30-50% left at this stage, others, like this shoot with Dani, I end up with 75% of the original images at this stage…
  5. Stage 4 is one of those interesting stages, it’s a “Would my client be WOW’ed by it, is it one of those pictures people go ‘that’s sooo good!'”, usually there’s only 1-10 or so from a shoot with a 4 star rating like this. There’s a lot of personal preference that goes into this as well, it’s going to determine how people look at your portfolio an what kind of people you grab as clients.
    At this stage I begin doing some cropping and photo specific edits. on a per photo basis.
  6. This rating stage is purely for me, it’s a “If I had to represent this shoot with 1-5 images, which images would that be?” many times, there’s none that fit the bill, these are your portfolio images, they represent the best, final edited work. These are the ones I’ll sometimes pull into photoshop and see how they respond, the ones that pop better than any of the others. These few get a 5 stars.
  7. After rating, editing, I go back through the 4-5 star images and use the ‘flag as pick’ to chose the preview images that I’ll show to the client, if they want more I can go and pull out 3 star images for them to look through.
  8. Export / Watermark picked images and write some cool useful blog post to go with it.

Enjoy the rest of the shots :)

Dance of the Roses

Rosepetal Frame


Paul Rohde

Thank God for DNG

DNG's FTWFor those of you who watch me on Twitter or have been around me the last few days you know I’ve been rather frustrated due to some file system errors that corrupted my hard drive and left me without a Lightroom catalog (The catalog stores all the adjustments and edits to your images). Unfortunately for me the last catalog I had was from before my visit back home in around early December, so essentially I had lost all the edits, ratings, tags, etc… to the last 2 months of pictures, which is a task I would not want to repeat and had been putting off for about the last week. Fortunately I didn’t lose any of the image files themselves, so those were still there so I could go and re-import them into the backup catalog, but it was still a daunting task to go back and re-edit. There are times when I enjoy going back and changing settings or adjustments on pictures, but to do it on ones I had so recently finished editing… I was so in a hole, or so I thought. I finally decided to take the time a few hours ago to go and re-import the photos and edit the ones I needed and just let most of it slide by. As the photos were importing I noticed something unexpected, the photos had ratings… and the little icons in the corner that indicated edits had been made on the pictures… as I watched in incredulation I realized that DNG’s have the capability to store program specific information such as edits, ratings, tags, etc… For once my practice of always downloading and converting the raw files my camera produces into DNG’s paid off and the edits and ratings FOR EVERY SINGLE PICTURE was preserved!!! Now, that being said, it doesn’t keep the history of edits made to the picture, (I could still reset all the sliders and get essentially the same thing however) but that it stored the edits is a wonderful amazing lifesaver.

Yes… I know, backup, backup, backup.

I’ve had my share of issues in the past, and granted, this one could have been MUCH MUCH worse, I’m so thankful I took the time to convert all the photos on import into DNG, and you should to for reasons like this.

Paul Rohde