Sep 4 2010

Workflow 101

If you delve very far into the topic of serious digital photography in the Internet, it’s not very long before you encounter the term “workflow”. The term can sound complicated, and daunting, and confusing. But it doesn’t have to be.

In reality, everyone who uses a digital camera has a workflow of some sort, even if it’s just one or two steps. But most people who become more intentional with their photography start paying more attention to their photos. As we start to really like some of our photos, and as we become proud enough to show them off, we develop a desire to make them look their best. Additionally, as we begin to take more photos, we realize that we need a way to store and organize them so that we can go back and find them later.

So what’s a workflow? Simply put, a workflow is a series of steps that you regularly go through after you’ve taken your pictures.

This can include any of the following:

  • transferring photos from the camera to the computer
  • deciding which photos to keep and which to delete
  • renaming photos
  • cropping
  • retouching (tweaking contrast, adjusting color, converting to B&W, sharpening, etc.)
  • resizing for the web or email
  • printing (at home or using a photo printing service)
  • organizing photos in a system that makes sense to you

Setting up a workflow, or system, for reviewing and processing your photos can (1) make the process go faster, (2) help give you the best quality photos possible, and (3) help you find a specific photo six months from now.

There is no single “right” workflow – all you need is a system that works for you, and the proper tools to support your system. In the next installment I’ll suggest a sample generic workflow – and some tools to accomplish various tasks – as a way to help get you started thinking about your workflow. If you’ve got other tools, or a different process, use what works for you.

Above all, have fun!