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“Work It, Baby!” All About My Photo Workflow

We are all good at taking photos… and when we catch the bug, we take A LOT of photos! But how do we keep them organized?? My workflow is done using Adobe Bridge, but the same concept of organization can be applied to pretty much any photo management software you choose. As a little bit of a side note – if you are using Apple iPhoto to manage your photos… STOP IT!! If Apple were lay claim to a failure, that would be one of them. Get your photos out of iPhoto and into something else. There will be a day when you will be really glad you did!

Now for my own workflow:
When I import the photos off the card, I put them in a set of folders that have been organized chronologically. For example:

Pictures > 2012 > January > 14 Jan – DustinEricaGarden

So that’s where you would put all the originals from the shoot. Since I shoot in RAW format, I will quickly head to Photoshop to convert them to JPGs and size them down for Client Proofing. To do that in Photoshop, go to:

File > Scripts > Image Processor…

Here I select the source files (which would be the originals) and that I would like to save them in the same location. Saving them in the same location will create a new folder labeled “JPEG” inside where you imported your original photos. While still in the image processor window, I will make sure that the JPG check box is selected and the resize one too. Then I will put in 1000px for both the height and the width of the images. This won’t make them square, but adjust whichever edge is longer to 1000px. This makes for easier online proofing. At the bottom I will add my Copyright statement and then tell it to run.

Once the photos are resized, I will then upload them to a site called ZangZing (FREE) for client proofing. What I do here is create a new album for my clients and upload all the originals and ask them to go through and mark “Favorite” on the ones they absolutely want to have printed/edited. I give them about a 15 photo limit because otherwise they might select them all. I restrict album access to private so only the client can see the photos.

Once the photos have been selected and ready for enhancements/editing, I create a general folder labeled, “Edits” for each month. For example:

Pictures > 2012 > January > Edits…

And inside each Edits folder are these two subfolders:

> JPGs
> PSDs

Original Quality, edited, JPGs are saved in this area. At the same time I finish a photo I like to make it “Web Ready” by resizing it and putting my logo on it and I then I save it in a folder called “BLOG” inside my “JPGs” folder. For example:

Pictures > 2012 > January > Edits > JPGs > BLOG…

I might create subfolders within “JPGs” or “PSDs” for a series of photos I edit just to keep clients separated from my own work or other files.

This type of organization has worked great for me because it’s been far easier to remember when an event happened rather than some crazy name I saved it all under.

As far as my editing workflow goes – that changes depending on the photo I am working with. From HDRs to Portraits to Landscapes… they all need a special kind of love.

But, one thing I do make an effort to do when I am done editing the photo is to do levels so that if I print the photo, it will be bright enough. I will do a slight sharpen on it. Then I will increase the Sats because some printers take the sats away depending on where you go. Those are my finishing techniques but it’s a workflow.


  1. Fabrice Bacchella

    There is no need to keep all the jpeg, as they can be easily exported using Lightroom or Aperture.

    I have just set up a few export parameters and rebuild the jpeg from my raw when needed.

  2. Heather

    So, what do recommend for one of those people(like me!) who has tried to manage my huge number of photos on iPhoto? I need help! Are there free online storage sites that you would recommend?

  3. Dave

    One word about ZangZig: Its free until July 1st, 2012. After that you are limited to 2GB (10GB if you invite friends).

  4. Chris Terry

    it seems for me and many people the organisation of files comes when you have so many that you don’t know what to do anymore and then it’s too late

  5. Kellie

    Why couldn’t I have found your website two weeks ago??? I lost several great photos on IPhoto. Fortunately (or Unfortunately) it was on a brand new Mac so I hadn’t downloaded many photos yet…. (I was trying to transfer them from an older computer)…

    I am really enjoying your articles; the style that you use to write about your depth of knowledge concerning photography is easily understood without all the confusing scientific wording. I look forward to learning more from you!

  6. Gordon Sandvoss

    I highly highly highly recommend Lightroom. While I understand the usage of Bridge, I much prefer Lightroom for cataloging, organizing and ACR initial editing.

    Also, in Lightroom, I have an Export preset I made called ‘Clients’ where it automatically exports any image(s) I have selected, at a set size, max file size (I set mine at 800kb) and watermarks each image with ‘PROOF’. So easy to do. It saves from exporting back and forth!

  7. Laura

    ZangZing’s site says it is shutting down on 08.31.2012…any other recommendations???

  8. Bridget

    Yes, zangzing seems to be closed for good. Please let us know what other recommendations you have for a free proofing site.

  9. Jasmin Sanchez

    Thank you for the comment regarding iPhoto! I’ve been going nuts trying to make it work for me so now that I know….i can simply let it go. Also, special thanks for mentioning Zang Zing!

  10. Leo

    Zangzing is closed. What other recommendations do you have? Smugmug vs Zenfolio? Any free ones specifically for client proofing? Thank you!

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