Workflow – The Process of Improvement #1

A frog in hand by Kris Smith

 

Reason for this series of articles: Recently, I completed a years worth of shooting photos around Manhattan. I took on a handfull of subjects and shot them almost everyday – roughly 200-300 frames a day. This weekend, I finished up four months of post-production on the photos and I’m curating them into collections.

The Process Begins

When I’m not jumping into deep end of one pool, I’m finding another to put my toes in.

During the summer of 2004 I had the great fortune of being a geek in the right place at the right time. The place I was working was sponsoring a local archeological dig for Mastodon bones.

Since I was building the website, they thought it would be best that I be responsible for documenting the summer work by photographing it, daily. They set me up with a Sony F-828 and pointed me toward the dig.

Sometimes The Deep End Is The Only End

I took this task with the same attention that I do almost everything – giving it all that I’ve got. I was shooting about 100-200 frames per day at the Dig site and then releasing them as a series at the end of each week, ‘This Week at the Dig’.

Trying to manage these accumulating images required a system – a process to review, filter and then edit the best photos. I hadn’t had to sift through so many assets before. Let alone then choose the best of my own work. They were all the best. I didn’t know how to critically review my own work.

Workflow Begins To Take Shape

After a month I had developed a somewhat effective workflow:

  1. I created folders labeled – Week 1, Week 2, etc.
  2. In those folders where ones – 2004-06-01, 2004-06-02, etc.
  3. Inside those were folders labeled – Best
    1. This is where I would first sort ‘the best’
    2. It was difficult at first to be highly critical of my own work
  4. Inside that folder was another labeled – Final
    1. This is where the best of the Best folder ended up for processing
    2. Again, I needed to be critical of my work in a manner that I had never been before
  5. Release the photos publicly to the photo gallery on the Dig website

This workflow remained steady throughout the entire Dig, which lasted nearly 16 weeks.

Criteria Chooses You

What didn’t remain steady, changing everyday, was the criteria used to decide which photos would make it into the ‘Best’ folder.

I was spending time on photography sites taking in recommendations, viewing the work of professionals and amateurs like myself and comparing my work against their offerings. These comparisons led me to the first big decision – style.

What style did I prefer? Could I emulate this style? Will I be able to create my own voice after I adopt this style?

I didn’t know the answers to any of these questions early on, but I did know that I was paying more attention to subjects, framing, color, perspective and light.

Come back or subscribe to get the next article in the series about criteria.

 

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