February 2, 2011

#5 - Build a simple workflow. (Wait! It's not that boring.)

This isn’t going to seem nearly as boring as the title implies.

If you’re taking a lot of pictures, there’s a pretty good chance that you’re going to have to do something with all those pictures. Eventually the memory card fills up and you’ve gotta transfer everything to your computer.

Now, you couuuld just chuck everything in a folder called “Pictures” and hope for the best when you import IMG_044 from your camera. Problem is, four years down the road when something goes wrong with your photo editing program and you need to find the original file, you’re going to be outta luck. Not that this has ever happened to me. Twice.

Take a little care with filing and editing your photos and everything will work out just fine. You’ll be able to find things and improve your shots faster and easier than ever before. Four steps to the perfect process:

Where you keep your photos.
Pick one folder to hold your photos. I keep individual photo shoots in yearly folders (i.e. 2009, 2010, 2011). I then list folders for the individual shoot - starting with the date on the folder (010111 – Baby Portrait). This way, all my shoots for a year appear in order.

What you call it.
This one’s a big one. Come up with a file naming convention that works for you. Here’s mine: [DATE] – [TITLE]. If it’s holiday photos, it looks like this: 122510 – Family Holiday Photos. Makes it easy to find the photo I need.

How you tag it.
Most photo editing programs allow you to “tag” photos. Use this feature. By typing in a few basic words (who is in the photo, where you took it, what kind of photo it is), search becomes lickity-split easy.

How you fix it.
I always do the exact same editing things in the exact same order – fix the colour, fix the brightness, add some tone, etc. By doing this, I make the editing process so straightforward that I can do it while holding client conference calls. Not that I’d ever actually do that.

One more thing.
Back up your files. Head on over to your favourite gadget store and buy yourself a handy dandy drive specifically for creating a backup. Make sure it comes with a decent backup program and you’re set. Shouldn’t cost you much more than $100 for a terabyte backup drive. You will not be sorry.

Next up: Contest!

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