Reconsidering My Workflow

I had two experiences recently that got me thinking about my editing workflow.  First, I did an at-home session for a wonderful mom who suggested that I save myself time by sharing my unedited pictures with her.  Second, I took a great lifestyle photography class on CreativeLive.com from a photographer whose motto is “Let it go!”  and who spends one hour editing her sessions.  These two experiences have cause me to reflect on my own personal workflow.

I do not love editing images.  I would really prefer to get images straight out of my camera that are ready to share, print, and love.  Often that happens, sometimes it does not.  Indoor at-home photography has so many variables (including wall color casts, amount of natural light available, and working with flash) that there’s often a bit of tweaking needed in post processing.  When I bring home a set of images from a session, I download them off the card, cull them to delete the losers, and then start the process of figuring out which ones are worthy of sharing with the client.  By worthy, I mean which ones I think the client is going to like.  Somewhere I got the idea that professional photographers are supposed to do the choosing and only share the perfect pictures.  It’s easy for me to decide which of my images I like the best, but I can’t quickly decide which ones my client will want, so I end up spending lots of time on this step. The wonderful mom who suggested that I share my unedited pictures with her (a scary thought to me!) also suggested that I let the client choose favorites for me to edit.  Yes!  That would save me the headache of trying to somehow decide which will be the client’s favorites.

Here’s what my new workflow could be for sessions:

  • Download the images
  • Delete the non-keepers (out of focus, blurry, bad composition, etc)
  • Batch process the images to correct for white balance, lens distortion, and calibration
  • Run through once more to individually correct exposure and crop
  • Pick my personal favorites and share them on FB and my website
  • Upload small files for all the images to a Google Drive folder for the client
  • Wait for the client to star favorites
  • Further edit and fine tune the favorites if needed (use LR tools to make local adjustments to skin and faces; remove distractions)
  • Upload high resolution files for the favorites to the same Google Drive folder

I will be very interested to see how this goes.  It will hopefully save me time and make editing more enjoyable, as well as resulting in more images and a quicker turn around time for clients.

Here’s an example from a dance party:

I liked this image straight out of the camera, but it needed some work.
A few simple adjustments made the exposure, colors and shadows better.
If this was a picked as a favorite photo I would probably edit the leftover dinner off her nose.  :)

One more example from a baking project:

Another great picture that needed some work. This is straight out of the camera.
Here it is with some simple edits, the kind I would do before sharing it with a client.
If it was chosen as a favorite I might tweak the white balance and skin tones ever so slightly.

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