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My Photography Workflow | Day 30

I get asked a lot how I go from shoot to delivery, and I’ll preempt by saying – I have no idea if this is how others do it or not. There isn’t a right or wrong way but this is what works for me.

I shoot in RAW. Please notice I didn’t debate jpg versus raw during this 31 days. RAW is simply better for me.
When I get home from my session, I immediately upload my memory card to my computer, and run my external hard drive to back it up.
I then have 2 copies of the files on my computer.

I use Photo Mechanic to import images and Adobe Bridge to manage my files.
First glance through, I simply delete all the files that may be out of focus, eyes closed (unless we were aiming for that), etc.
Second glance through, I delete expressions that I don’t like or the client wouldn’t like.
Third glance through, I decide between similar poses and narrow down to the best 30-40 images.

I open all the images in Adobe Camera Raw where I handle most of the color correction, if needed, and synch color temps between images.
I save the images as PSDs. This could also be done in Lightroom – which I used to use. I find ACR faster.
At this point, I delete the RAW images off my computer that didn’t make the cut. RAW images take a LOT of space.

I use Mike D’s Autoloader from Bridge to help my workflow. It opens, runs an action – usually my prep action which opens layers of edits I might need. It serves me one image at a time for editing.
I make any edit that the image needs, saving it both in PSD and jpg.

Once I completed the edits, I give it one last glance through. This is the hardest for me, but I determine which 20 – 30 images best suit my photographic style and best represent my client.
Those images are converted to web size and put in gallery. We will either meet with the client or give client web access to the gallery for image ordering.

I won’t recommend a lab – because it relies so much on color calibration of your monitor. I only suggest that you pick the 5 labs you’d like to consider and order test prints from them all. Don’t use the lab your friend uses, or so-and-so uses. Use the one that makes your images look best. Otherwise, invest in calibration and commercial printing and print them yourself. Then you can be sure of what you’re getting.

photoshop before and after

I made this screencast for you all taking this image SOOC to final and it’s ridiculously long. I debated on whether to include it or not, so I’ll say this – it won’t hurt my feelings if you don’t watch it. I clearly talk too much. This edit done prior to the recording took about a minute in a half. Only I could turn a 90 second edit into a 17 minute screencast. (**Update! YouTube won’t even take 17 minute videos. I had to hack up the video a bit. It’s now just shy of 15 minutes. Sorry ’bout that!**)

Ay yi yi.

We’re almost done with our 31 days together, can you believe it?! Come back tomorrow for our final hurrah!


  1. You are so funny! I’m so glad I got to spend 30 days with you! 🙂 Hope to meet in person some day!

    Love and blessings,

  2. First of all…thank you so much for doing this 31 day series. You have done an excellent job! Regarding yesterdays post about focusing on the eye of a subject when shooting…you mention that if you have a group focus on the “important” persons eye…are you using one focal point just over that subjects eye?

    • That is how I do it. My cam is set to have only one focus point. This is not the only way to do it. I know others do it differently, and I say go for whatever works best for you.

      I use aperture to make sure my depth of field is great enough to envelop everyone in it.

      If you’re not sure how to calculate depth of field, the iPhone has a depth of field app. 🙂

  3. Whew… I am exhausted just reading this. I had no idea the work y’all went through to make those pretty pictures. I’m impressed 🙂

  4. I really love @Angela’s comment haha! Some of my friends make comments to the effect of ‘your job is the best. You get paid that much for 1 hour of shooting?’ or ‘for one wedding?’. They have no idea how much work goes in after the shoot wraps!

    It’s also really neat to read other people’s workflows. Mine is a lot different from yours as I’m about 99% a LR user, and rarely if ever, open in PS. Thanks for being open and sharing your sequence with us!

    • Hi Laura!

      I used to use Lr a lot more than I do. What killed me was the Lr import time. It just takes such a long time. In an effort to stop waiting for Lr imports I discovered the combo of Photo Mechanic / ACR. This two are so. much. faster.

      I still use Lr to import family photos though, because I really like the cataloguing it offers.

      But yes – your comment is proot that there are so many ways / styles / methods to make beautiful photos. And I LOVE your work!

  5. Thank you so much for sharing your workflow with us! I have seen a definite improvement in my photos and am learning so much about editing too. I cannot thank you enough for this series and I’m going to be sad when it’s over.

  6. Hi Darcy, forgive me if you answered this question already, but I wondered if you use, have used or will use online photo storage like carbonite? What is your take on it? This series is definitely one I will go back through and read and savor again and again. Thanks so much, I know that was a lot of work.

    • Carbonite will delete the photos you delete off your camera after 30 days.

      If you want backup for accidents, something like that is good. If it’s archiving that you want – then look into Amazon s3.

  7. Hi Darcy, Thanks so much for providing such a great resource! I know I really appreciated it and loved being able to share it with my readers at SandwichINK as well. 🙂

  8. OH MAN! I just found your 31 days to a better photo!! I wish I could have gone through it with you. Instead, I will be reading you blog from beginning to end! Thank you so much for sharing your amazing insight!

  9. THANK YOU! This is a great post. I picked up several tips and feel more confident about my technique! I haven’t watched a photographer do the behind the scenes… I’ve only fumbled through with my own learning.
    I plan to go through and read many more of your tips. Generous of you to share.


  10. I loved to read this post! It’s almost the same the workflow process I use to do with my pics. There’s just one difference-I usually use Lightroom to edit in a simple and fast way my photos..sometimes and it usually depends from the images I use Camera Raw. 🙂 Thanks for the sharing!


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