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Create your own workflow

We all have some sort of workflow to get us through the thousands of pictures we take. Still sometimes it might seem that we spend more time on getting things organised than on shooting more pictures. Why is this? Probably because our workflow isn’t optimized yet. With this post I like to share:

  • My humble workflow, which is suitable for improvement itself
  • Show you how some of the great photographers of current time work their way through al those pictures

My workflow with Adobe Lightroom 3

So let’s start with my workflow. The first thing I do is get those pictures on my macbook pro (MBP). I usually do this by connecting the camera to my MBP, but you could also use a card reader. During this import I do two things.

  • Add shoot specific keywords
  • Add copyright information to my files (I created a simple template for this in Lightroom)

Lightroom import dialog

After all the pictures are transferred to my MBP I start making backups. I can’t stress this enough. Backups really need to be made before anything else happens! My backups are stored in two ways. I use a 500GB Western Digital Passport Essential in conjunction with Apple’s Time machine for the first backup. Next to that I have a ReadyNas Duo with two 2TB drives which are configured in RAID 1. This means that all data is stored on both drives, giving me 2TB of mirrored data. Together with the WD Passport I have a total of three backups next to the version that lives on my MBP. For security purposes the WD Passport should be stored at a different location, just in case my home burns down.

After the whole backup proces has been taken care of, I can actually start with arranging the files in Lightroom. First I take a quick look through all the imported pictures, deleting the obvious bad ones (press X) and flag the keepers/picks (press P). I do this while going into full screen mode (Shift Tab) and making the background dark (press L twice). Also make sure you have Caps Lock switched on, because with every X or P you choose, you automatically move to the next picture. At this stage I try not to spend more than 3 seconds a photo. When done with all pictures, I make a collection out of al the keepers and call it “Picks”.

Notice that in the new collection “Picks” all the flags are gone. This allows me to go through all the keepers for a second selection round. What I do now is select a certain set of pictures which are similar. I press the N key to get a view with all selected pictures. This way I can determine which one is going and which one is staying. The collection I make out of all the second round keepers are put together in a collection named “Selects”.

Judgement view in Adobe Lightroom

Depending on how many pictures I started with and how well the shoot went, I have around 20 to 50 pictures in the “Selects” collection. These are the pictures that get edited, go to a client, or maybe even work it’s way into my portfolio.

Great photographers and their workflow

I came across some links that contain information about the workflow of some great photographers. Scott Kelby talks about his workflow for travel photography. Chase Jarvis shows us the way he uses backups to make sure he never loses data and Thomas Hawk talks gives us a great example of his workflow. Go check it out!

So that’s it. Care to share your workflow or comment on mine? Please do so :)


  1. yes if you use apple, you better have enough copies for if everything crashes

    1. Sjoerd zegt:

      Hmm I think with both Apple and Windows backups are important. Every computer can “call it a day” and stop working, I think that is Apple/Windows independent ;)

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