Having a workflow is something I wished I'd paid more attention to in the beginning. It was wasn't until I got serious about my photography that I realised just how important having one is!
I had gotten lost in understanding f-stops, aperture, shutter-speed, ISO, composition, white balance, post processing and the thousands of other topics every photographer starting out needs to understand.
With all that study, came all the practice and I soon had thousands of images, spread across hundreds of folders, which in turn were spread across multiple hard-drives. I wasn't even holding a backup of my images.
What I was I going to do with this unmanageable mess?
I had originally thought I could fix the mess I created. But after a few hours trying to find all the images, dealing with duplicates etc. I decided it just wasn't worth it. Time to start fresh.
I needed a system that starts with transferring my images to the computer from the SD card, import them into Lightroom and export them for either Instagram, Unsplash or Flickr.
My system would need to include a way to organise and backup my images.
My setup looks like this
- MacBook Pro laptop. This holds my programs including Lightroom. I had read that you should not save your catalog to an external hard-drive as Lightroom does not like it. I will call bullshit on that.
- WD Elements 4TB. This holds my images and catalogs. I also save my Lightroom catalog backup files to this drive.
- WD My Cloud 4TB. This is my primary backup. This drive not only holds a backup of the My Studio hard-drive but also a backup of MacBook Pro.
- WD My Passport 2TB. I use this drive when away from home. The contents are then copied to the WD Elements 4TB.
Transferring images to my computer
I first create a folder on my WD Elements hard-drive using a name template. My template is as follows: YYYYMMDD-Project/Location. Inside that folder I create a folder for the RAW images and another folder called WEB for images that are exported from Lightroom.
I always use an external card reader, I almost never import directly from the camera. Likewise I never format the SD card until right before I am about to use it again.
I have read that many photographers choose to also rename the image files at this stage. I can see the benefits of this, but I choose not to.
Importing my images to Lightroom
I like to keep my images and Lightroom catalog on the same hard-drive. I choose to use one Lightroom catalog. This works for me, but I did try creating a new catalog for each import.
I use Collections and Smart collections to keep things organised.
When I import images to my catalog, I don't typically import every image. I will go through the images and look to cull any duplicate or poor shots. In the File Handling pane, I select Add to Collection and click on the plus to create a new collection. I give the collection the same name as the folder I'm importing from.
Exporting my images from Lightroom
Once I have edited the images and they're ready for exporting I hit the export button.
I use the following options:
- Export To: Same folder as original photo
- Put in Subfolder: WEB
Backing up my images
I automatically sync the WD Elements hard-drive to my WD My Cloud drive. I should think about an additional offsite backup. But at the moment this setup is meeting my needs.
I've been using this workflow for just over a year now and in the main it is working well. I have some tweaks in mind to help with posting to my Instagram.