Inside Looking Out

Sturbridge, Massachusetts

I am often asked about my workflow and I thought I would start documenting it. It's an ever evolving process and what is good for me may not work for you. Today I will describe how I organize my photos and choose them for editing. First a little history. When I first started shooting as a full time hobby, I would identify my keepers and immediately process them and put them on the web. I quickly began to realize that I wasn't being selective enough and was spending way too much time processing images that, quite frankly, were not worth it. I also felt a bit overwhelmed when I got home as I felt the immediate pressure to process all of the images. As a result, I became more critical of my work and only kept the images that I really liked and thought had potential.

My digital darkroom skills back then were pretty rudimentary.  So, I began to edit a few photos from each shoot and saved the other ones for future editing once my processing skills improved. I quickly discovered that finding the unprocessed keepers was a challenge due to how I organized my photos. I organize my images in a "Master Photo" folder location that contains sub-folders for each year . Inside each year's sub-folders were additional sub-folders for each shoot (labeled with the shoot name and date). While this structure worked (and still works) for me, it made looking for these unprocessed keepers a bit tedious.

It wasn't until I started using Lightroom's collections feature that I stumbled upon a way of finding these older images a lot easier. The first step was to lose the mindset about folders. Yes, I still store my images in the same folder structure, but after they are imported into Lightroom, I no longer use them. Immediately after import, I review the photos, rejecting the obvious ones and giving 5 stars to the obvious keepers that I want to process some day. These are automatically sent to a collection named "To Be Processed". The remaining photos are reviewed a second time, usually to evaluate similar photos that I haven't made a decision about yet. On this second review, some images are deemed keepers and given 5 stars.  I have done that for all of my images.

Now when I want to process an image, I don't care which folder an image is in. Instead, I simply look through the "To Be Processed" collection and pick the ones that feel right to me that day. The image could be one I took last week or one that I took years ago.

How does my workflow differ from your yours? I welcome any comments, suggestions or questions.

This image was shot a few years ago from inside one of Old Sturbridge Village's cabins. The light from the outside gave a great glow on the old window frame.