So this post is purely for photographers, maybe geared more towards wedding photographers perhaps. This is not going to be a blog where I incorporate lots of visual aids, i'm not a Buzzfeed article. If you know Lightroom or have just started using it then you will be able to follow along. If you're a bride or groom and don't know what Lightroom is then this probably isn't for you.
So what I concentrate on is keeping things simple. It can be very easy to misplace a photo if you don't know what you're doing in Lightroom. You can add a filter that doesn't show certain types of flagged photos or you might not have photos from 2016 or 2015 included and miss a photo that you needed asap. Okay, so i'll go through everything from the beginning.
So first off, any of my edits have usually been thirty seconds or less on a photo. I'm working with four thousand photos when shooting a wedding and between sorting, processing and delivering I have gotten pretty efficient. I'm mentioning this because I want you to understand that I don't treat my catalog like a golden goose. If my catalog becomes corrupt or has an issue and I have to restart from scratch, it won't be the end of the world. I may lose all of my edits but i'll always have my photos which is the most important part.
I sort my photos by YEAR, MONTH, DATE. If I need to get photos of a race from two years ago all I have to do is search my calendar on my computer or phone for RACE. Once I have the date I just look through my catalog for these photos.
I do have two catalogs, one on each computer. My main computer is used for managing storage between two eight terabyte external hard drives. This catalog has everything from 2007 to 2017. I'm currently teetering around five and a half terabytes but it goes up and down each year depending on how harshly I treat my past work which i'll explain more about in the next paragraph. The second catalog I have is on my MacBook Retina, this is my workhorse. It's fully loaded and meant for travel and speed. I'm able to take all my wedding photos and work through them non stop without being confined to my office or apartment. My favorite place to work is actually Starbucks. So this catalog of photos and edits on my MacBook is stored on a Lacie Thunderbolt hard drive. I'll talk more about what I do with these photos later in this blog.
Another benefit of having everything in one catalog is access. You can keep doing triage on your photos, sorting through them and pulling out the bad photos. When years go by and you get better at photography you will be better equipped to judge your past work more critically. Every year I spend a few weeks to go back through my old photos and trim out the chum. God forbid I expire before i'm suppose to and someone is charged with sorting through my photos and see all my bad photos (I mean bad composition, blurry and other issues). I've heard other photographers talk about how inexpensive storage is, it's not trust me. I upgrade my hard drives every year due to concerns of proper backups. Hard drives fail so you should regularly upgrade. I use my hard drives pretty heavily as well. If I have a bride or past client that wants photos from their shoot I don't want to give them any bad photos. If you even show a client a bad photo there is a chance they may think it's great. Here's what happens when you show that bad photo, they say it looks great and you know it doesn't. They start showing that bad photo and telling everyone who took that photo. So I really only want my good photos out there. If it's something important then yes, save the photos, no biggie. But for me I don't want to have sixteen terabytes of good photos mixed with bad photos.
Sorting, yes, no. It's that simple. Yes to a photo, it's good and you like it and want to share it and you want people to know it's on of your photos and i've used too many ands in this sentence. No means that you don't like the photo, it didn't come out good, bad composition, un-saveable, blurry, unflattering. When you get rid of a photo you're also saving the environment. You're also saving your wallet from having to get a bigger hard drive prematurely. So for those of you not in the know... P is for Pick or YES, X is not Reject or NO. While in the library module you have to make sure Auto Advance is clicked on under the Photo menu at the top. Okay, so now that we have all the photos and we're selecting P or X and working through the photos we realize it may not be going as fasts you would like it. This can be for two different reasons. You have to make sure all standard previews were built for the photos. Otherwise you will have to wait a second for the photo to render each time you click through the photos. Control A and then Library menu, Previews, Build Standard Size previews. Now wait and once it's finished restart your sorting process. Another reason the photos may be going slower as you pick through them is you're in the DEVELOP module. You will be able to sort while in this module but it will be a little bit slower.
The best part about sorting with P and X is you can do it with one hand. The more you do it the faster you'll get with it. I promise once you've done it with a half dozen shoots you'll be a master. Now here's what you do once you've selected all the bad and good photos, once you've flagged everything as a YES or NO. Now you can DELETE REJECTED PHOTOS. Now keep in mind once you've deleted these files they are moved to your trash bucket on your computer or Mac. Please please please make sure you don't have deleters remorse over your photos. This is just how I work and if it works for you then it works for you. Lightroom really allows everyone to process and do their own workflow the way they want. This is just how I work. Okay moving on.
Once you have deleted the rejected photos by clicking the Photo menu at the top of the screen and scrolling down to it you can repeat this whole process again. So what you'll want to do is go through all of the photos and repeat this process of saying yes or no to all of the photos. I will typically do this several times if not more just because I want to make sure that my client or bride & groom get the best photos they can. You'll start to notice that you now have just really nice photos in your catalog. It will be a pleasure to show, friends and family your photos without having to delicately explain why some of the are bad.
Now that you are down to just your good photos you are ready to start editing. I don't use presets btw for anything. I process my photos a little bit differently and don't want everything to look exactly the same as every photographer on Instagram or Pinterest with a yellow decontrasted light flared photo. So here's what I do next. I take one photo and I apply a few general edits on it. First I add anywhere between +5 to +15 on contrast (This helps give enforce a more sharpened look) and then +5 to saturation (You should be shooting RAW and your phot may be a little flat because of it) and then +1 or +2 on clarity just to add a little bit of edge to everything. I'll also make sure Profile correction is on and sometimes i'll add increase sharpness and add a little bit of noise reduction. Once i've done this singular edit to this photo i'll want to apply it to all of the photos. I move back to the main Library loupe view by hitting the G key. Select All (Control A or Command A) and i'll mouse over to the side triangle to reveal the window to the left where it says Sync Settings. I select Sync Settings and I make sure everything is applied. Keep in mind if you decided to adjust exposure on this first photo it will apply to all of the photos. So once all these basic edits are applied to everything I can start going through with more edits. if you've noticed I don't do much with my editing. I really try to get everything correct when I actually shoot the original photo. I don't try and follow up my work with corrections. It makes my life a lot easier when I take a good photo and work from that to make minor adjustments. I'm not huge on filters, fake looking scenes and such. I would much rather get the correct tonal range and add some lights in the scene to break a subject from the background or add a dynamic little flare by using my flash a certain way. It's way too easy to add all these afterwards. I wrote about that a little more here.
While in the DEVELOP module you can navigate your mouse over to exposure and it should change the color slightly from Grey to white notifying you that your cursor is selecting this certain option. While the mouse sits over exposure you can now use the arrow keys to adjust exposure and also move between photos. This means you can go through all of your photos with out having to move around your mouse non-stop. I like to apply all of my exposure edits to all the photos like this. I'll eventually go back and do cropping on all of my photos to make it more pleasing to the eye. Some photos may require additional adjustments like Shadows or adjusting highlights.
Once I have done all my edits and i'm happy with my work i'll export the photos to a custom named folder. Once the photos have made their way to where they're suppose to be. This is usually my website IShotYourWedding.com which is made through Pixieset.com. Any photos that I really like will end up on my Facebook or Instagram. I'll also take a few photos that i'm happy with and put them in a separate folder called "Images", I know i'm super creative. This is just a folder that links to my Wallpaper and Screensaver that allows me to keep seeing my good photos. When i'm done getting the photos to where they need to be I delete the JPG files. I have no use for them. I have a finished copy on my website if I need to show them and the really good ones I have in a folder and on social media. I find it's much easier to get rid of them and it also keeps my desktop very clean and provides a really nice focus for me to get work done now.
After most shoots, always weddings I take my photos and back them up to my Lacie thunderbolt hard drive. I sort through them as quickly as possible and then those get backed up to two eight terabyte hard drives. When I am no longer using the photos on my MacBook or travel drive as much I delete them because I have them backed up in two separate locations. This allows me to keep my computer relatively clean. If my computer ever gets stolen I don't lose out on photos and because I have a MacBook and good practices it's very quick to get back on my feet as far as editing goes.
I hope this is helpful to the photographers out there with a massive workload. This is a little bit of the magic behind my smoke and mirrors. This is not a shortcut to work, this still takes a great deal of time to do correctly. I'm not breezing through any photos. In fact most weddings I take four to five weeks because I'll work on the photos every few days that way I'm looking at them with fresh eyes and processing everything in my head on which is a good photo and which is a bad photo. I always want to make sure my best foot is forward. If you don't have Lightroom yet i would highly suggest you go and sign up for Adobe's photographer plan which gives you Lightroom & Photoshop for only $9.99 a month. Feel free to leave me any comments or criticism on this post.