Let’s face it: no one likes editing images, no matter how user-friendly your photo management software may be. We like the feeling at the end when we have a beautiful photo to share with the world, and that’s why we do it… but no one really likes image editing. Thankfully, there are a number of ways to speed up your digital workflow, which we’ve rounded up here…
Thinning out your photos
Whether you’ve gone for a family day out and shot family snaps or you’ve photographed someone’s wedding, chances are you’re going to have way more shots than you want or need. Deleting photos is one of the most painful parts of the photo management process, and photographers can spend way too long agonising over which pictures to sacrifice. You may have 50 great shots of your kids at the lake, so how do you choose which ones to keep?
Before you set out editing, make a mental note of how many landscape and portrait format shots you want, how many posed, how many candids, and so on. If you have your needs set out in advance, you will feel less attachment and more driven to only keep what you need.
Rename your photos
There’s nothing worse than knowing you have an awesome photos and having to go back and spend hours finding it. A good habit to get into is copying your photos to your computer and renaming them straightaway. Most image editing software worth its salt has a rename feature that allows you to apply new names to stacks of photos at one time. There are also several file renaming programmes like A Better File Rename that serve this sole purpose.
Avoid your image-editing software!
You read that right. Opening up your image-editing software of choice opens up a world of possibilities and the temptation to try and rescue bad shots. But here’s the thing: if it’s bad, it’s bad. And any ‘rescued’ shot will still look like it was rescued. If it’s bad, cull it. Delete it from your image viewer straightaway. You’re not losing anything of importance!
Rate your images
If you star-rate your images as you browse them, it can drastically cut down your time on the computer. First impressions are often correct; go with your gut and give it an initial star rating. When you’re done scrolling through, just go ahead and cull those 1s, maybe even the 2s. Revisit the 3s and give them the benefit of a second look. You should now have greatly reduced your pile.
We know, this tip is everywhere, from landscape tutorials to beginner guides… but it’s so important. The best way to speed up the process of editing the files you actually want to edit is to work with RAW files. Their lossless format mean you have so much more leeway than with JPEGs and can get the look you’re after much quicker and easier.
If you shoot a lot of the same subjects or have a very precise look you want to achieve in a set of photos, using your image-editing software’s actions feature is the easiest way to speed up your digital workflow without sacrificing quality.
It’s also a good habit to start applying metadata and keyword search information to your photos. And, thankfully, most image editing software has evolved enough to allow you to do this to all of your photos at once. Applying metadata information, such as your name and address, helps protect you against copyright much more than watermarking photos ever will. And including keyword search terms for your photos, such as the name of the location and genre of photography a set of photos falls under, will not only helps you find them, but also make your photos more visible on search engines.
Adjust white balance first
Most images have a slight colour cast imbalance, and correcting this first in your RAW editor will likely correct a number of other small exposure niggles you would have spent time correcting.
It sounds like a no-brainer (and it is) but many people don’t. Using layers allows you to revisit an image later on to make alternate edits, or tweak an image for different purposes (for example, if a publication wants to use your image in black and white, you might want to make contrast adjustments or clone or crop out clutter for a more simplified composition). Being able to remove layers and preserve others will save you the time of an editing an image all over again from scratch.
Back up your photos religiously
As we’ve mentioned before, backing up your photos is one of the most important things you can do as a photographer. And as we mentioned directly above, you don’t want to waste time ‘re-editing’ photos. Developing a back-up strategy and sticking to it will ensure you never lose your hours of hard work and have to repeat yourself.
Stick with a workflow plan
You probably won’t get the best routine down straightaway, but once you do achieve a digital workflow that works for you, stick to it! Nothing will slow you down more than slipping from a routine and getting lost in new processes. If you’re a high volume image editor, you really want to nail the perfect routine and stick to it like glue.
Hopefully, these tips will help you speed up your digital workflow and allow you to shoot more and share your results faster. If you’ve developed a workflow that works for you, why not share it below, or on our Facebook page?