Critique my workflow please!

afliegs

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I've been doing paid photoshoots for a couple of years now, but really only 1 or 2 shoots a month, although they're starting to become more frequent. I've been trying to find a workflow that works for me, but I always feel like my editing takes WAY too long (especially for what I charge).

So, here's what I do...

I charge per hour of shooting. With the price I charge, I include all the full resolution photos from the shoot pretty much straight out of the camera (besides blurs, etc.) with printing rights. And then for every hour of shooting, I let the client pick around 5 to 10 of their favorite photos that I do more in depth editing with (skin smoothing, various filters, etc). I normally end up shooting 200-300 pictures per hour (is this normal?)

Immediately after shooting, I open all my RAW files up in DPP (Digital Photo Professional). I shoot Canon and have tried editing my RAW files in Lightroom, but I'm always happier with the photo after I edit in DPP (and it seems to take less time for me). I delete obvious blurry pictures, eyes closed, etc. Then, I color correct, correct white balance, bump up or down the exposure, etc. (Side note...I almost always find myself changing to Canon Landscape picture style (I shoot portraits, but the skin almost always looks better to me in Canon's custom Landscape picture style)).

After I finish with the RAW files in DPP, I batch process them into a very high quality JPEG. I then batch process into a lower quality JPEG, which I upload to my website (I have a zenfolio website with unlimited storage). I use a lower quality JPEG for upload to my site because the upload time is drastically shorter. Then I contact the client and have them pick out a certain number of their favorites from the photoshoot. After they've picked out their favorites (they're able to share them with me through my website), I start with the more in depth editing of those. And here's what I do...

I use the high quality JPEGS (of their favorite) and open them up in Photoshop. Then I use different healing brushes along with Totally Rad Pro Retouch 2 to do retouching, skin smoothing, selective editing, etc. After these edits are done and I'm happy with the photo, I save it as something like "Favorite1." From there, I almost always do a black and white of each favorite (usually using Nik software) and save it as "Favorite1BW." Then, I take Favorite1 and run it through RadLab a few times to create different looks for the photo. I always tell myself I'm only going to pick one way of editing it, but I almost always end up with 3 or 4 different versions of each of the client's favorites.

From there, I upload all of the versions of the favorites into a separate gallery on my zenfolio site. I give the client the ability to download (or print) those straight from the site. Finally, I put all of the high quality JPEGS and all of the edits onto a memory card and mail it to the client.

All in all, I feel like for every hour of shooting, I'm doing 2 to 4 hours of editing. Sorry about the run-on post, but I could really use some critique and tips! Thanks!
 

20belowphotography

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Wow! That seems like a lot of running around to get everything done. While I must admit, post processing batch images is time consuming, it seems like there should be an easier way. I do 99% of my image selection/post processing in lightroom as I've had great success. The few times I can't accomplish something I just run it through GIMP and that's that.

I then burn 3 copies of the RAW files(redundant backup), 3 copies of the jpeg exported files(one for client, two for me), and upload the RAW files to my online host. From there, the jpegs also go on my web host for the clients' password protected gallery, and a select few go into my website portfolio or facebook fan page.

It seems like you have a good system for how you like to do things, my only concern with what you do is when you're giving photos to clients "straight out of the camera". While I realize that you still touch 'em up, I make a point to never give any photos to clients without getting my absolute seal of approval which means the full gamut of post processing. The way I figure it is, I don't know what they're going to do with these photos, so would I want them showing off stuff that's not what I consider my best. Is that how I want to be remembered?

That might not be the way things are the way you said it, I just thought about that because I've been asked before for a cheaper rate if I don't edit the photos. Know what I mean?
 
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afliegs

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It seems like you have a good system for how you like to do things, my only concern with what you do is when you're giving photos to clients "straight out of the camera". While I realize that you still touch 'em up, I make a point to never give any photos to clients without getting my absolute seal of approval which means the full gamut of post processing. The way I figure it is, I don't know what they're going to do with these photos, so would I want them showing off stuff that's not what I consider my best. Is that how I want to be remembered?

That might not be the way things are the way you said it, I just thought about that because I've been asked before for a cheaper rate if I don't edit the photos. Know what I mean?

Yes, I know exactly what you mean. The "straight out of camera" photos have been color corrected, white balanced, etc, but I haven't done any "retouching" to them. So, even though I pick out the photos that aren't my best, there are still photos I give to the client that I haven't gone the extra step with.

My concerns about picking only the photos I want out of all of my shots and doing a full edit on those...

Filtering out the cream of the crop seems like it will be yet another LONG step added to my editing process. I feel like by putting them all online for my clients to choose from, I'm putting that work in their hands.

Also, I think what's considered a great photo can be very subjective. Sometimes, when my wife goes through my photoshoot, she'll pick out some of her favorites and I'll be baffled. (and that's not even taking into consideration personal preferences over client's own facial expressions! I'll use my wife as another example... I'll think I have taken a great picture of her, yet she doesn't like the way she's smiling, etc.)

Most importantly, though, is I feel like if I only let the client see what I consider my best, I think I would be editing for hours and hours more! Most of the pictures that I let the client see, I feel are pretty high quality... I just haven't done the extra step... removing blemishes, smoothing skin, "popping" the eyes, brightening/darkening areas of the photos, etc. I feel like if I did this to every picture I liked from a photoshoot, I would be editing even longer!

Maybe I'm over thinking it.
 

Gavjenks

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That sounds really laborious. Here is what I suggest you do to arrive at the same end result much much faster:

1) Buy a larger memory card if necessary, and then shoot RAW + jpeg.

2) You can then preview the jpegs SOOC using simple windows preview utilities or just looking at them directly in a folder in the operating system. This takes you from needing 20 seconds to load up each one from RAW and evaluate to only requiring half a second to glance over a whole batch of photos and instantly recognize "Oh, these 6 are all the same pose, and this one is the sharpest/best of that group" then instantly move the other 5 to recycling bin without even opening them properly or dealing with them. Since the RAW and jpeg go one after the other in the folder, you can recycle the RAWs in the same wrist motion. Blurry images can also be evaluated and trashed in half a second at most.

3) You now have a group of photos that are the best ones for each pose and minus any totally blown exposures or blurs. Copy all of the JPEGS from this group now into a special folder.

4) Run a photoshop folder batch editing automated action that takes the entire folder and resizes them all to something like 600x800 pixels, and then adds a watermark or a big light gray X or whatever and resaves them. You can go grab a sandwich in the meantime or do your taxes.

5) Drag and drop the entire folder into a website like imgur or similar, which will just upload them all instantly into an album for you. Congratulations, you now have a proof sheet for your client to pick favorites from for editing (since that's what you like to do), and you haven't even had to open the RAWs yet on one single photo!

6) The client tells you which ones they like. NOW you open the RAWs for those, and do all the editing you think needs to be done. Avoid doing 3-4 different types of editing styles, however, unless the client is paying you for that time. That's just inefficient. By all means do a different style if the first choice fails miserably, but don't second guess your gut too much.

7) Give these files to the client as their product. Avoid giving them any others OOC. If you insist on doing this, then do it NON-MANUALLY. I.e., for the "other" images, process them from RAW using automated, non-customized settings and then batch edit them in photoshop for anything else like maybe cropping or cheap and easy "auto-tone" or whatever is fast and halfway decent. Then quickly glance over to make sure none turned out horribly (if so, just trash that one and pretend it didn't exist), and put them on the CD with your primary edited ones.

However, I again strongly suggest you not do that at all, and only give them the copies of the edited ones they chose as favorites.




End results:

* Due to jpegs being viewable en masse in preview and folder views, you never even open the RAW files OR the jpegs for any blurry pictures or failed exposures.
* You never even open the RAW files OR the jpegs for any but the client's favorites.
* You no longer do any tedious editing of the hundreds of photos that the client THEMSELVES told you were NOT their favorites.
* As much as possible is done automated in batch processing without you needing to be at your keyboard, but at the same time, the images that represent your business were all lovingly hand-edited.
 

Josh66

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I normally end up shooting 200-300 pictures per hour (is this normal?)

I hope not. That's 3-5 pictures a minute - that's at least one picture every 20 seconds, for an hour straight. Pretty sure most people would call that "spray and pray". Shooting that fast, I don't really know how you can really give the model any direction, or check your composition...

What happens to the photos that you spent time editing, but the client didn't pick? It sounds like you're probably processing a lot of photos that nobody will ever see.

I would have the client pick favorites after you delete the obvious mistakes, but before you process anything.


edit
Didn't see your second post when I wrote that.

I disagree about it taking too long to filter out the good ones from the "okay" ones. And you can definitely do that faster than the client can - they'll be looking at each picture and liking it at least a little bit just because they are in it.

How many pictures are you uploading for them to choose from? Too many and they'll just be overwhelmed by it.
 
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tirediron

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In short, this is a HORRIBLE work-flow. First of all, you need to become conversant with lightroom, because in addition to being THE BEST RAW "editor" on the market, it's a fantastic organizational tool. For comparison, here's my portrait session workflow.

-1 hour session typically equals 50-75 exposures max, all shot in RAW+JPG

-Create session/client directory on computer.

-Dump memory card to computer, import to Lightroom.

-Import images into Lightroom, switch to develop module and immediately sort through and bin the obvious dogs (missed focus, eyes closed, etc, etc). The flags and rating tools in LR make this a snap. I can go through a 75 image session and have it weeded down to 20-25 proofs in less than ten minutes.

-Level, straighten and 'quick crop' remainder, batch process for exposure, WB, etc.

-Switch to LR web module, create an HTML gallery and upload to the client section of my website (LR will batch-add watermarks, etc, and the gallery takes <2 min to create and upload). At this point, I've probably been on the computer for less than 30 minutes and I already have a respectable client gallery on-line.

-All of the images from the gallery are now exported to a new directory within this session directory as TIFF files. NOT, NEVER, EVER .jpg files!!!! .JPG is a "lossy" format, and each time you open it, edit it and save it, you lose data. ALWAYS do all of your work in after RAW as either .DNG or .TIFF (I prefer .TIFF, but DNG is probably actually more sensible if you use all Adobe products).

-Client responds with the images they'd like processed (normally ten or less depending on the session but they have to be into me for $500 before they get more than ten) and I fully process those images, verifying that all of my LR work is good, and then moving into Photoshop for cloning, healing, layers work, filters, etc. Once all the processing is done, the final .TIFF files are saved, and when there's NOTHING else left to do, if I'm delivering a digital product, I save them as .JPG files and burn to disc, upload to client gallery.

From start to finish if I work straight through, it would likely take less than 90 minutes (more like 60) to complete this whole process. Trust me when I say you NEED to get onboard with Lightroom. It is a complex program, but it is such a hugely capable program that you really are hurting your business if you don't employ it!
 

Gavjenks

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-All of the images from the gallery are now exported to a new directory within this session directory as TIFF files. NOT, NEVER, EVER .jpg files!!!! .JPG is a "lossy" format, and each time you open it, edit it and save it, you lose data. ALWAYS do all of your work in after RAW as either .DNG or .TIFF (I prefer .TIFF, but DNG is probably actually more sensible if you use all Adobe products).

I suggest using jpegs for the online proof sheet simply because all of the easiest to use online image sharing websites where you can drag and drop support jpeg, and not all support tiff. Also tiff is unnecessarily large in filesize just for a proof.

The lossyness of jpeg doesnt matter, because you never have to re-open those files again. The images that the client chooses are ones where you then go back to the original tiff or the RAW (if you haven't converted it yet. in tire's it would be the tiff). So the proofs are just a "dead end" only ever used for proof selection. Why wait to sit and upload huge tiffs for a proof sheet that's only going to be looked at in some tiny resolution and which may force you to use a sharing site you like less?

Tiff certainly works. Just saying, could speed up the flow even more to use dead-end jpegs that you never re-introduce into the workflow (due to lossyness)
 

BRN1

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Afliegs, thanks for the question. And thanks to the others for the responses. This post has helped me see some things I was unaware of and they will greatly help my work flow. And I'm not a pro just a big hobbyist. Thanks again!
 

KmH

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I use the high quality JPEGS (of their favorite) and open them up in Photoshop. Then I use different healing brushes along with Totally Rad Pro Retouch 2 to do retouching, skin smoothing, selective editing, etc.
JPEGs are limited to an 8-bit color depth by dint of throwing away about 80% of the Raw image file color data. Consequently they have little, if any, editing headroom.

Raw files have 12-bit or 14-bit color.
Photo Editing Tutorials

Conversion to JPEG should be one of the final tasks done in a workflow to minimize the chance of image editing artifacts.
 
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tirediron

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I suggest using jpegs for the online proof sheet simply because all of the easiest to use online image sharing websites where you can drag and drop support jpeg, and not all support tiff. Also tiff is unnecessarily large in filesize just for a proof.

The lossyness of jpeg doesnt matter, because you never have to re-open those files again. The images that the client chooses are ones where you then go back to the original tiff or the RAW (if you haven't converted it yet. in tire's it would be the tiff). So the proofs are just a "dead end" only ever used for proof selection. Why wait to sit and upload huge tiffs for a proof sheet that's only going to be looked at in some tiny resolution and which may force you to use a sharing site you like less?

Tiff certainly works. Just saying, could speed up the flow even more to use dead-end jpegs that you never re-introduce into the workflow (due to lossyness)
Sorry, I was a bit unclear in my earlier post; I was referring to the OP's talk of editing .jpg files. I agree completely that .jpgs are the best file to use for galleries, and in fact virtually any on-line use.

To clarify. Open RAW files in RAW editing application of choice, make basic corrections (crop, straighten, WB, exposure) then export as .jpg files for client proof gallery. Once the client responds with the images he/she wishes processed, verify that those RAW files don't need any further correction and export as TIF, then open up in PS, Gimp, or whatever, and complete any editing you couldn't do in your RAW editor. ONLY when ALL of the editing is complete should you export/batch-convert/save-as .jpg.
 

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