What is that, you ask yourself, squinting at the photograph at the top of this entry. A Mac?
Why, yes, it is. But let me direct your attention to the important part of the photo – the bottom:
What are all those crazy sticky notes? You continue wondering.
Why, I’m so glad you asked.
Those sticky notes represent the steps I take with every single show I shoot. I’m very Type A, so I need to thoroughly lay out my battle plan, or I’m lost. And on days like today – where I’ve got a dozen things to sort and edit – these sticky notes are the only thing that keep me sane.
Here we go, step by step, with an explanation of what I do with pictures after the taking is done.
First, I upload them. We use a program called Photo Mechanic, which I’d never used before I came to Wolf Trap, but it’s a pretty decent program to sort and tag photos. I’m considering getting it for myself after this summer, since I’ve become very used to its easy interface.
When uploading, I generally stick them in a generic folder – “new stuff” and from there, sort them into more specifically titled folders such as “42nd Street – 2009 – TJB.”
Next step is to pick out the best of the best. Inside whatever main folder I’m working out of, I create a folder called “selects” to place the most striking images in. Photo Mechanic is a great help in this step because it has a little feature that you can rate each photo when you look at it with stars, and then at the end sort the photos by the rating so the best pics are all right there.
After that, I select all the best photos and head into Photoshop. Now, coming from a journalistic background, I’m always VERY hesitant to edit photos. I think the ethics of photo editing can be very tricky and confusing, so I always stay on the safe side for photos like this (fashion and art photography obviously being very different) and try to edit very minimally. My next entry will be specifically on the mechanics of how I edit a photo – so I won’t bore you with that now.
After that, you’d think I’d just save it and be done, right? Wrong! I still have three more very important steps.
After saving the images in Photoshop, I go back into Photo Mechanic to tag the images. Tags are simple words that users can go into Photo Mechanic and search for pictures by keywords – for instance, “picnic,” “performer,” or “theater.” During this step, I also insert the metadata for each photo, an important step for any photographer. By using the IPTC Stationary Pad in Photo Mechanic, I can edit the file’s data so anyone who opens it in a photo editing program will see that the picture is copyrighted to me, with all my contact information, as well as Wolf Trap’s info, since they’re the proprietors of the photo.
Next, I select all the photos and re-save them as JPG photos. I shoot in what’s called RAW, which allows me more flexibility to edit the photos without destroying the integrity of the picture. But most computers can’t read RAW unless in Photoshop, and since not everyone has the Adobe suite, I’ll save each batch in JPG so anyone can open them.
After that, I will always transfer the photos to my external hard drive so I have copies of everything for my portfolio. Super important.
Last, I burn the RAW images to a CD. RAW images are huge – 10 MG compared to a JPG’s 3 MG, and so as not to kill the server with huge files, we burn them to a CD and archive them in a nice binder for anyone to find if they want to edit a particular image.
It’s not a particularly hard process, but as you can see, there are several steps, and to keep myself on track with what photo set is in which stage, I write each event on a sticky note and move it along the little path as I complete steps. Dorky, I know, but when I’m juggling 9 different photo events that all need to make it through each 6 steps, it’s the only way.
And there you have it! Go forth and be organized, like me!
Next up in the blogosphere will be that entry on editing photos. I’ll take you through, step by step, and show you how to make photos look better. Tada!