My Image Processing Workflow

I have been asked about my image processing workflow after sending out the second issue of my newsletter a couple of days ago. So in addition to answering directly, I thought, I might as well share it here.

Daily Ingestion

I quite like the term “ingest”, which Photo Mechanic uses for its function to copy image files from the memory card onto the hard drive.

I do this at the end of each day and it is usually the last thing I do on my computer before turning it off for the night.

1. First Selection, Tagging & Ingestion

I bring up the contents of the memory card in Photo Mechanic, where I mark the images I want to import using a color class. I just type “1”, which in my configuration marks the photo as “Winner” and adds a bright pink label.1

Color Classes settings in Photo Mechanic
Bright pink labels in Photo Mechanic

I changed my habit of importing everything and deleting later, because I have actually never ever gone back and deleted any images. Once they are on my drive, they will probably live there forever. So I decided to make the pre-selection part of the import process.

I also add all my tags (usually places and people) and other meta data (copyright information, contact details) at this point, because it is much quicker and more comfortable than doing it in Lightroom.

2. Importing into Lightroom

I then import all of the pink Winner files into my Lightroom Catalog.2

3. Second Selection

I do a second round of selections, for which I use Lightroom’s “Flag” function. By typing the letter “p” I flag each image, which I want to work on further. (In my head, p is for “pick”.)

4. Post Processing

Then I go ahead and do some light post processing on those flagged images.

That usually means some exposure and contrast corrections, noise reduction, cropping (if necessary) and a very slight vignette. Sometimes I need to use the spot removal tool, especially in the rare cases of shooting landscapes with a closed down aperture – because my sensor is dirty and I never get around to cleaning it.

I never use Photoshop to do retouching anymore, but thats mainly because of the subject matter that I am shooting at the moment (mainly family and documentary work).

5. Cleaning Up

The bright pink labels actually show up in Lightroom as white labels. (I never looked into it, but I don’t think it is possible to adjust color labels in Lightroom?)

I remove the white color label for all of the processed images, so I know I am done with them.

Sometimes I don’t have the time or I need to let images sit for a while before I start the second selection or post processing. By leaving the white label I can easily find the images I have not processed yet.

6. Export & Sharing

The final step is to export those post processed images as high resolution jpgs and import them into the Apple Photos App. My photo library is synced via iCloud so the images are instantly available on my iPhone as well.

If there are images of my kids I will share two or three photos with my extended family for which we created a shared album.

If the images were shot for a client, I use our own picu plugin to let the client select their favorites and for final delivery of the final, high-res images.

I will then turn off the computer and hopefully start reading a book instead of playing The Witcher 3 on my Switch.

  1. I got introduced to Photo Mechanic during my Workshop with Momenta back in 2018 and have used it ever since. The UI is not pretty at all, but it is super fast in displaying raw previews, so I am able to very quickly decide if a photo is in focus, etc. – and if I want to keep it.↩︎
  2. I went back to using a single catalog instead of several different ones. I did this because I was using the Book module and want to include images from the past three years, so I imported those catalogs into my current one. I do not feel any difference in speed, even though it contains more than 50k images.↩︎