Photo Workflow Tips?
May 4, 2009 10:21 AM   Subscribe

Any good tips on digital workflows in Lightroom for large groups of images? Really, any input on the photo editorial process (whether it be film or other software) would be much appreciated.

I take a lot of pictures when I go out shooting, and even more so when I go on vacation. (I realize my "a lot" is nowhere near what a pro might shoot.) I really like processing and cataloging my images in Lightroom, but I find the process entirely overwhelming when faced with 3000 new photos.

Does anyone have any tips on making that process manageable? For instance, the other day I shot a concert and took, say 150 images in a fifteen-minute set. I wanted only a few selects of different setups, but I might have 20 images of the guitarist and bass player scattered throughout the set, and I found it maddening to search around for comparisons of image 12 vs 34 vs 45 vs 54 etc. And, of course, it is easy to crop down to just the guitarist or the bass player, so you may end up comparing with those sets, too.

My current workflow is to import and tag with the highest-level common keywords. I then advance image by image flagging picks. I then go through the picks several times while refining the images. Along the way, bad shots get unflagged, and shots that I like but that don't quite make the cut are labeled with a color (usually yellow, as the shortcut for yellow is right above unflag shortcut) and then unflagged--just in case I want to revisit images that were good, but not great. The end result is a pile of flagged (but without a color label) images that I export for the web or printing.

What do you do?
posted by Admiral Haddock to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: In case you're not aware of it, you may want to check out the DAM book. I got it recommended to me when I asked a similar (though much more amateurish) question, and it seems to give pretty strong best practices for things like this. (One example that was non-obvious to me: rather than trying to score linearly from 1-5 all images, a multi-pass logarithmic approach is suggested. When you start to look at a new set, bad photos get no stars, and good photos get one. Then maybe one in ten of the good photos get two stars, maybe one in ten of the two star photos get three stars, and so on.)
posted by pbh at 11:10 AM on May 4, 2009

Best answer: I usually give a really quick ranking. I may go through and give every useable image two starts. If there are multiples of very similar images, I quickly look at 100% on each one and then tag one with twos stars and the rest one star. That narrows it down to different images. Then I go through and depending on what's needed I rank them harder with more stars.

The nice thing about doing that is that you can burn through them quickly. And if you want to go back and see the rejects, just view all the stars (for everything including rejects), 1 star (for useable duplicates), 2 stars (for the best of each individual setup), and 3 stars and up, for selects.
posted by sully75 at 11:45 AM on May 4, 2009

Best answer: Why are you using flags instead of the numbers (stars, 1-5)? I go through and rate:

1 = anything that is potentially useable
2 = handful of selects of each set up
3 = what I actually process and send to client
4 = client selects
5 = super-awesome-whoah-print-this-for-portfolio

Seconding the DAM book.
posted by bradbane at 11:58 AM on May 4, 2009

Best answer: I actually prefer using the "fullscreen" view in ACR to flag photos. It's very, very fast and gives you a much better sense of the picture than a preview window in LR.

I also always retain my 2nd-to-final round of pics. I often come back to these and find opportunities for PP improvement.
posted by lattiboy at 12:27 PM on May 4, 2009

Best answer: A few things I do to make my life easier:

· always start with a fresh card, or a fresh folder on the card I'm using. Some cameras have a quick menu setting to start a new folder, so you can do this even between one band's set and the next.
· edit on the fly when it's convenient— if there's a lull in the action, I'll quickly flip thru the frames and axe anything that definitely isn't worth keeping. Caveat: be sparing about what you delete, because the LCD is more of a ballpark. It does help to get an idea of what you have, ie. "I don't have anything good of the bassist yet".
· I import everything into LR with keywords when it's appropriate, and star/flag accordingly. Keyboard shortcuts really help for this, if you don't already use them. I use stars to rank frames within a given shoot, flags to call out individual frames for editing or later scrutiny, and ultimately the Quick Collection to group selects for output to Flickr or a CD to send to the lab.
· You can use Stacks to group similar frames, and Compare to, well, compare them and choose a select from that group.

When I'm done sorting the shoot as a whole, I run a few frames through Develop using either one of my presets or altering it to suit. I have several of these (very loosely based around the Direct Positive preset) for different conditions and desired looks. I use Sync to apply those settings to batches of photos shot under similar light, and then run back through the shoot in Grid mode to tweak any outliers.

I'll only Final Delete any frames after a thrice-over that deems them unfixable. Mostly for me, they're failed attempts at an angle or composition, or bad timing with moving subjects.
posted by a halcyon day at 1:51 PM on May 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I find that five stars is overrated and use three instead: 1, 3 and 5. I don't delete, I just X the image, in case I need it one day. Storage is cheap.
posted by Brian Puccio at 4:23 PM on May 4, 2009

Response by poster: These are great--I'll definitely use some of these tips. I've never done ratings--probably because it seemed like a lot of work to parse what was a 5-star versus 4-star image. But I do like the three-star system. I think I could make that work. I will definitely try out the DAM book.

I did not know about the stacks feature--I may give that a try. It's sort of frustrating that it can't be done within a collection, though. Does anyone else have tips on pulling selects from a stack of mixed up images (i.e., the guitarist and bassist issue)?

posted by Admiral Haddock at 10:13 PM on May 4, 2009

You could try tagging them with keywords - which is good practise anyway. Then use the paint tool to easily categorise them. You can then just see the ones keyworded with "bass" or "guitar" or both.
posted by Magnakai at 7:19 PM on May 8, 2009

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