Jun 25, 2016168 views

What's your post-production workflow?

Every photographer I know does post-production a little differently. Share your step-by-step workflow, and what you do to stay organized and efficient.
For example, which editing program and tools do you use (Photoshop, Lightroom, or another)? Do you edit photos from a shoot all at once, or in increments over time? How do you catalog your image collection (by date? keywords?) so you can find the right files later on?
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kunalkumar and Tyler
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I first go through all of the RAW files on my SD and put all of the usable ones in a folder based on date (and model if there's more than one) in my Desktop/PS/Edits/Photos/ProjectName/.
Depending on how much post is needed, I will use Lightroom or Photoshop, with more work for the latter.
For Lightroom, I've kept away from using presets (a pride/ learning thing) other than my own. Usually I'll edit the first photo manually and save a preset and name it based off of location and model (i.e. Lauren Beach 1) and apply that preset to all photos that are of similar content, making small tweaks after wards. To export, I create a folder called Edited within the folder containing the RAW files and export JPEGs to there.
For Photoshop, I use the RAW editor to fix lighting, turn down contrast, and sharpen or dehaze if necessary. Then I fix any blemishes and crop. I think create adjustment layers to achieve the look I want. I make two 50% grey layers for dodging and burning and any added lighting tweaks. Save as JPEG into the Edited folder and import the next photo, deleting the dodging and burning and the blemishes layers. Rinse and repeat.
As a commercial photographer, I tend to shoot individually titled sessions (e.g; "client" Fabrics, "location" Aug 2016) tethered with Capture One (ISO bracketing for studio strobes and shutter speed in natural light).
Some "moodier" sets might require some handheld lighting from assistants for extra highlights which are comped in to a degree later.
I have different user styles I created for different shooting scenarios they act as a start point, automatically tweaking; RGB squeeze, clarity, sharpening, vignetting, contrast, saturation highlight and shadow recovery. That way I have a solid start point that I can make minor changes to on the fly, plus the client sees the image over my shoulder looking a lot less flat than raw files straight out of the sensor.
Once the set, cameos and detail shots are captured, the client chooses selects on location using capture one colour tags, or from a contact sheet if the client is offsite (usually low res jpegs processed at sub 50%) selects are then processed, colour corrected, composited and retouched in photoshop, saved as both PSD's and Jpeg "finals". The finals are zipped and sent to the client, all sessions are backed up automatically through time machine/ archived manually, both offsite and in studio RAID storage devices.
My filing system goes something like:
Drive:/ . . . . / Digital Work/ "Client"/ Year/ (all capture one sessions within that year)
My work flow is generally CaptureOne Pro to sort them out and quickly cull keepers. Then I use CaptureOne to do some initial processing. That's usually checking my colors with X-Rite ColorChecker Profiles I've established. If its a portrait I might do some skin color work in there as well. From there its into Photoshop for spot removal, dodging and burning, and depending on the shot and job it might also involve all sorts of other things from lighting, object removal, replacing backgrounds, combining multiple exposures or focus, etc. Then in the end I do all of my final color grading and proofing.
I meticulously edit every photo in Photoshop individually because I am a fool. I do have a set of Raw Filters that I use for specific things though.
I pretty much only use Lightroom. With digital photography especially, it's very easy to feel overwhelmed by the amount of options. Lightroom limits the amount of your sandbox to simplify workflow and options down to the essentials. I feel the longer I've been doing photos, the less time I spend making edits. I generally make slight color corrections or throw on my favorite filter: 'black and white look #5'. I also use some custom presets I've saved from tweaking either Lightroom's filters, or custom ones I've found online.
Depends on how I plan to use the image and where! For Instagram I've grown really comfortable using a VSCO/Snapseed/Retouch combo for images. For photos I plan to post online (ie. blog post/Tumblr/website) I try and stick with just Lightroom while incorporating VSCO film packs as desired for certain looks :)
Each person edits their photos for different reasons. I try and recapture what the scene looked like in person and Lightroom is often good enough for me. On rare occasions I use Photoshop mostly for blemishes or the dodge/burn tool.
Most of my photos are from travelling and I only edit them along the way if I have downtime otherwise I edit them in one go after everything dies down.
My images are sorted by date and by event type. Travel/family/friends/testing.