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July 27th, 2011  |  by  |  published in Featured, Shoot

If you’re like me, you shoot your photos in raw format… so there’s also a pretty good chance you use Adobe Lightroom for processing your images. You might even have started using Lightroom because of its reputation for making processing workflow faster. In that vein, this week I’d like to talk about a Lightroom feature that I use every day on every image I shoot. A feature so efficient I’d nearly forgotten I was using it! A feature unexcitingly called Camera Defaults.

You’ve probably noticed that when you open an image in Lightroom’s Develop module, many of the settings are already chosen for you. These are Lightroom’s default settings.

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Raise Your Hand if You Want to Save Time

November 17th, 2010  |  by  |  published in Featured, Shoot

This is the season for marathon editing. My last wedding was October 23rd and I have a big gap til December 4th, to get really caught up. My nose is pointed at the keyboard 12 hours a day, with little breaks here and there. At least, that’s how it’s been in years past. I’ve finally smartened up!

I photograph about 40 portrait sessions and 25 weddings a year. My season is short, from May-Oct, generally. So, I have to cram in a lot of man hours in that small amount of time, meanwhile having a daughter at home from school in the summer.

What gets me through the crazy editing season:

Two offices- Best thing I ever did was to rent a space outside of my home as a second office. It’s mainly just where I meet clients, but it’s also a quiet place with little distraction that I can go knock out a bunch of work. My home office is where I can be a bit messy and disorganized, but my downtown office space needs to stay neat and tidy. It forces me to stay on task. Worth every BIG penny.

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Two computers- I have a desktop computer and a laptop. Mac or PC, whatever your preference, it’s all about getting those 2 to talk to each other. When one computer is mad at me for having every program running, and wants to stall and powder it’s nose, I don’t get mad, I just use the other one. My laptop is my workhorse though. I find the portability to be indispensable, the 8 hour battery life is a plus. My favorite use for having two computers is working on the laptop, yet having the desktop entertain me with Hulu or Pandora for some much needed distraction. I thrive on multi-tasking, so 2 computers is a must. Moving that laptop over to a higher counter and working while standing is also a good way to stretch my back and give it a break from being hunched over a computer desk all day. My laptop and external hard drives easily pack into a purse-like computer bag and travel in between my offices.

A consistent backup system- I use Lacie Rugged Hard Drives. These little guys are such a life saver. Every work in progress, that means the folder of RAW files before they’re even culled, gets put onto 2 external hard drives before I even touch it. After culling and editing, that final folder then is copied onto 3 drives and 2 dvds. One dvd goes to my downtown office, one stays at home. At the end of the season, a set of backed up hard drives will also go to the downtown office. Once I wrap my head around a good online data storage company, I’ll use that too. Seems excessive? Nope. Lose one file and you’ll start backing things up in droves. Fact.

Multiple card readers- Why isn’t there a big multi card reader already invented?? I have 7 USB CF card readers all connected to one hub that then connects to my computer. I can put all 7 cards in at once and import them all while I’m pouring myself a glass of wine and cleaning out my camera bag for the next gig (no pun). I used to use Firewire 800 readers, but a side by side showed them to be not a smidge faster yet 5 times as expensive. Using 8GB cards has really sped up my downloading process as well. Right now, I feel like they’re just the right size to not freak me out entirely if anything goes corrupt, but they’re still plenty big.

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Outsourcing album design- I used to design my own albums. My thinking was that 1) I was saving money, 2) I had complete control, 3) I was saving money. Boy, I was wrong. First of all, time is money. Once you really really get that, you’re no longer afraid to outsource. Does it cost me a lot of money? No, because if I were to do it myself, and charge myself by the hour (which is how you have to think of time), then I’m doing more than great by outsourcing. I also save myself hair pulling, which is a bonus.My designer, Willow Album Designs, is exactly my style. I may get a bride wanting a swap or two here or there, but they never complain about the overall look because it’s what they see in all my samples. I keep my albums consistent and using the same designer for all my albums is a HUGE time and money saver. Thanks Britney!

My intern- Though he’s left for the season for snowier pastures, Brian was a big help with culling, editing my RAW files and prepping my online galleries. I highly recommend getting help. It’s not rocket science, but it does help tremendously to have someone with a photography/color theory background and a good eye. I would hand him over a Lacie rugged hard drive with a wedding or portrait session and have it back within a few days. Genius. He was such a help that I’m putting him to work again next year as well as a second or even third intern. Thanks Brian!

Lightroom and Photo Mechanic- They’ve been talked about here before, but seriously, if you’re still using Bridge to cull and edit, then I don’t even know you, mister. Photo Mechanic saves me years of culling time and Lightroom saves me years of RAW editing. I use Photo Mechanic to cull RAW images and rename files. Lightroom’s RAW processor is lightning fast. I also use it to resize images for my online galleries, to create contact sheet pages for my Proof Books, and to make online slideshows. If I need a set of 4x6s, I use Lightroom to resize them since it’s so much faster than Photoshop and doesn’t take over my computer screen while it’s rendering. All I ever do in Photoshop is final edits for skin softening, stray hair removal, etc, and to prep my images for my blog.

Blogging- Speaking of, here’s what I love about blogging. My clients, as everyone’s, are anxious to see at least ONE photo from their wedding or portrait asap. By blogging the week of the event, I satisfy that need and can then take my time editing through the rest of their proofs. I feel like if I didn’t blog the event right away, I’d be rushed to get the proofs out to the them, and wouldn’t do a great job. It’s a psychological thing, I’m sure, but it helps!

Paper and electronic copies- This might be a no-brainer, but having repetitive client worksheets and contracts in print and on my computer is something that is so super important to me. If, by some freak chance, I lost all my data, I’d still have it in print and vice versa. I have folder with each of my clients’ names in both places. Each containing a copy of their contract, notes about their event and their pre-wedding questionnaire. I can pull up the notes on my iPhone when I’m at the wedding and see that I need a photo of dad with the ring bearer in the dark reception hall. Awesome, except guests might think I’m Twittering, or something… but what can ya do? I have payment schedules on each client’s folder and on iCal. Having these in multiple places assures me that nothing gets lost, forgotten and everything can get cross checked. I also still use a paper calendar book as well as iCal which is also synched to my phone.

Drop shipping- I think about this every time I drive by the post office. I used to receive all my print orders directly, check them out (they were always great because I only use pro labs), repackage them all pretty, and mail them out to the client. Not only was this a waste of time, it was also a big waste of trees. In an effort to be more environmentally conscience, I drop ship all my small print orders now. It may be more expensive than sending it off myself, but the plastic, paper, oil and gas saved on not repackaging and driving to the post office is worth it, in my opinion.

Things- I can’t survive without lists. I write them on everything I see. I put them on my phone. I email them to myself. I put them on Post its and on Stickies. My favorite list program is Things. Instead of a messy handwritten note where items get crossed off and it gets thrown away, Things lives on my computer and I can log completed items. I can keep track of what there is to do and what I’ve done. There’s even an iPhone app that will sync to the desktop version. Brilliant.

Let’s face it, when we’re not actively being photographers, we’re office managers, editors, designers, secretaries, troubleshooters, etc. I’m sure I sit at the computer 10 times longer through a year, than I spend with a camera in hand. We’re busy and we need timesavers.

Happy editing season everyone!

~Zofia

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