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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Refine Your Imaging Workflow

Wedding photojournalism is a day-in and day-out, high-pressure shooting environment but if you can master this workflow, you can do anything



Start Out With Good Files

The first step in my workflow is to begin with consistent exposure quality. Everyone has his or her own process, but for me, this demands shooting in RAW format. At the beginning of the day, cameras between my assistants and myself are time-synched to ensure proper chronology later on. I make sure there's sufficient room on my laptop for the eventual on-site off-load of my memory cards. Card wallets are clearly defined for read and unread. With all systems in place, I'm free to be creative and drift along with the current of the day.

Once the reception turns into party mode, the intense part of my workflow begins. My assistant starts to download all cards onto my laptop to ensure the safety of the day's irreplaceable images as well as give me a head start on my workflow process. All cards are downloaded into a folder and dropped into an iView MediaPro [now Expression Media] catalogue. Once downloaded, cards are put away safely and kept upon my body at all times. Equipment can be replaced; images can't.

After The Shoot

Back at the office, the first step is to open my iView MediaPro catalogue and sort all images via Capture Date. Having all cameras time-synched at the start of the wedding ensures the images are sorted in chronological order. The next step is a batch rename to provide each wedding and image with its unique file name. I use the first three initials of the couple's last name followed by the two digits for the year, with a sequential three-digit shoot number followed by an underscore and a sequential file number.

Once the images are renamed, metadata is applied to each file via a template I've created within iView that automatically fills in the consistent information, such as my name, copyright, Website and location. Individual data, such as the couples' names, wedding locations and dates, are added manually. The next step is to burn the entire shoot and its iView catalogue onto DVD. At this point, I have all files on both DVD and my laptop. Now, it's time to edit.

First Edit

During the first editing pass, I pull any image that shows promise. The second pass tightens my edit. In the third pass, I mark images for black-and-white conversion or other postprocessing, whether it requires a technical touch-up or an artistic interpretation. I use iView's color labels to denote the difference. I highlight my final edit and use the Transfer to Folder command to create copies of the original files into its own folder.

With the edit down to 800 to 900 images, I burn them onto DVD, still in RAW format, and store them with my client files. I burn these files onto two external hard drives, providing me with two copies of the RAW edit on hard drives and one copy on DVD.

My next step is to transfer the edit to my Apple G5 setup. The files are opened in Photoshop CS2 for batch tweaking for exposure and color balance. Once finished, I convert the batch into JPEG mode.



 

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