Four Simple Ways to Improve Your Photography Workflow
- What a Photography Workflow Is
- Ways to Improve a Photography Workflow
- Some Gear Is More Helpful than Others
- The Importance of Keeping Records
- Post-Processing Presets
- Know the Craft
- Photography Workflow Final Thoughts
- Recommended Photography Gear
- What Is Lifestyle Portrait Photography?
- How To Use Leading Lines in Photography Composition (with Examples)
- Automotive Photography Tips
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Your digital photography workflow is an important consideration regardless of the type or style of photography in which you work. You will want to know what it means to have a photography workflow, why a streamlined yet comprehensive workflow in photography is advantageous, and what techniques, tips, and products can help you with your photography workflow.
Table of Contents:
What a Photography Workflow Is
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What is a digital photography workflow? Simply put, it’s the progression of steps required to create a finished image. For professional photographers working full-time, part-time, or doing gig work, it also includes finishing the job, getting paid, and setting up for future business.
We all know how to take good pictures. What we’re talking about with a photography workflow is everything we need to do from start to finish. This includes taking the photo but also requires so much more. The tips to follow will benefit an absolute beginner up to a seasoned, in-demand professional.
Ways to Improve a Photography Workflow
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One of the best ways to improve our photography workflow is to take a lesson from the masters. As you probably know, Ansel Adams was among my greatest inspirations for getting started in my main joy of photography, landscape photography.
Here’s how looking at a master like Ansel Adams can help our photography workflow: previsualize. Ansel Adams and Fred Archer invented the Zone System in the 1940s just for that purpose. Ansel Adams was a landscape photographer, and Fred Archer was a portrait photographer. Both worked primarily in black and white film and created incredible images with amazing detail in the shadows and the highlights of each scene.
We sometimes think about the Zone System as an exposure and contrast guide, but using it as Adams and Archer intended, requires a person to consider the entire job step by step.
When Ansel Adams looked at a mountain view and decided to put a particular part of it at Zone V, he then worked out everything he needed to do to get that result. It involved choosing which film to use, how to expose it, what filtration to employ, what developer for the film and for the paper would be best, which paper to print on, and where to dodge and burn in the printing stage.
What controlled the entire process was his decision from the very start about what he wanted the final print to look like when he examined the scene. Previsualization was the key, the guiding hand of his photography workflow. The same basic principles can help us in our digital photography workflow. Envision what you want from the start and then decide what to do to achieve that result.
Some Gear Is More Helpful than Others
Once we have envisioned what we want, we can make decisions based on that. Some of those decisions may require us to use different photography gear. Two things that come to mind right away for an improved photography workflow are lens filters and a camera mount.
Our lens filter choices will depend upon what type of photography we’re doing. As a landscape photographer, the filters that could be most useful are a polarizer filter (C-POL) and a graduated neutral density (GND) filter. Portrait photographers could also use these, or we might decide on a subtle soft focus filter. All of these filters can be found together in some filter system kits.
When using a GND filter, placing the line of transition is important, and the exposure might be longer than we want to handhold. For portrait or small product photography, we could use a way to place our lighting where we need it. A small camera mount such as the Octopad is an excellent choice for that.
Octopad is a small portable camera mount with a weighted disk with a non-slip pad underneath and a ball head on top. It’s inexpensive, easy to carry, and can hold a full-sized camera with lens, photography lighting, or other items such as a shotgun mic for video.
The Importance of Keeping Records
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When we find a good photography workflow style, documenting our steps will enable future projects to run smoother and quicker. A photographer's log can be very helpful, and you can use either a digital app or a physical journal.
I prefer a physical photographer’s journal for taking notes while in the field. The advantage is that I can include a small illustration sketch along with what I’m writing down. Plus, I’m simply the type who likes how a real journal makes me consider my photography workflow while creating images.
Another vital set of records for professional photographers is a client list with details and billing information. Various applications of business management software exist to keep a photographer organized. Using the proper software for managing our business eases our photography workflow tremendously.
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As any serious photographer soon realizes, post-processing is as important as capturing the image in the first place, although, it can add to our timetable for completing the job or project. Post-processing presets and non-destructive editing are the primary things that we can use for this part of our workflow.
Presets are a package of actions all put together for a specific purpose. They can include exposure adjustments, color enhancing or correction, softening or sharpening, and so on. They are especially useful for wedding and portrait photographers as we usually have a lot of image files with the same basic information embedded.
Non-destructive editing saves our computer disk space and our working RAM, meaning our time spent on post-processing is lessened, thus simplifying our photography workflow. A program such as Adobe Photoshop Lightroom employs non-destructive editing and has hundreds of pre-sets available from a lot of sources.
Know the Craft
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To get the best results from our photography and to make sure we know what’s involved in our photography workflow, a good tutorial on some aspects of our crafts or ideas from others who have improved their own can greatly benefit us.
Anyone can improve photography as an art, craft, and science at any time. I like to use photography tutorials on websites such as Udemy and LinkedIn. We have several great courses here at PhotographyTalk, including the Master Class series. Check them out!
Photography Workflow Final Thoughts
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The biggest thing to remember when trying to improve our photography workflow or some other aspect of our craft or the business side of things is that there will always be an opportunity to improve.
With that mindset, we’ll consistently be on the path to excellence. Enjoy!