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Workflow Part 1

Lesson 30 from: Create Powerful Photo Essays & Personal Projects

David H Wells

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Lesson Info

30. Workflow Part 1

Next Lesson: Workflow Part 2

Lesson Info

Workflow Part 1

We're going to talk about sustaining your personal project, slash photo, essays and there's two components to this and the big component, and I'm going to walk into a whole bunch information out, which might not have been so smart after lunch, but you've been really diligent so you'll get through it, but a big part of it is just logistical. How do you organize this stuff? How do you keep track of this stuff on dh then the other one is the sustaining it sort of audio, intellectual emotional moving forward, um, level when we had the table out here just a little while before lunch thank you for sitting through that. I got the impression talking to all three of you took away something from that the other thing which was so good about that when one person was up here, you saw how you who the other two learned from that person over there that's a big part of this. And so, um there was a question the other day about offering to critique people. Stuff you kind should be is offering as often as...

you can because it's something of value to them. You can help them build your network, practice your skills and you saw how even if it's not your own work watching other people and in other people's where it could be very valuable so here we go with something that puts most people to sleep but it shouldn't work flow it's a noun and I'm going through some boring stuff but it's really important the sequence of industrial, administrative or other processes to which a piece of work uh, passes from initiation to completion sorry anand to end system working with digital images from captured delivery, which is what we're talking about um a siri's of routines for capturing, copying, processing digital photographs that facilitate the most efficient process. How many people here love sitting in front of the computer and doing the minutia of organized? Okay, some people love photos, I'm not one of them I don't like to do this stuff, but I have to do this so the more efficient I am or efficient you are you get to do the good stuff so that's the whole point of these another definition of workflow is a serious of interconnected steps developed by different photographers to simplify and standardize their work. This is not a full blown I could do a three day class on workflow actually, creative life has many people who do classes on workflow that really worth sitting through. When you look at a lot of work flow talks, some of them you'll say I don't need to go that far into that much depth, but I should takeaway lesson a and b but I'm not going to do see whatever that may be so there's a lot of different ways of learning workflow today, we'll talk about mine. I will start with some pictures to get you kind of in the mood. This is a story I did for the philadelphia inquirer sunday magazine on an orthodox jewish yeshiva, which is a school for boys in philadelphia did this story about nineteen, eighty seven and it's, a high school for jewish young men, and I actually spent two brief weeks in an orthodox jewish yeshiva when I was in high school and I discovered quickly that I'm not really good at following these kinds of traditional structures, you could say flat out rebellious if you like, but I didn't have a lot of the future as being issued a student, but I did suddenly developed by just two weeks, they're a little bit of a credential because I'm jewish. I've been through one of these before, so I could go and produce the story about what it's like to be there, because I understand the language. I understand the subculture, I understand the routine, and I had the gender avenge because it is a it's, a traditional, gender divided subculture. I hope you like the photos hope you've already gone through that thing of the cholera versus black and white, why did they choose color? This's the afternoon interactive part, doing a lot of black and white. I mean, for one thing, so there's already that element. So those little pieces of color, I don't know, it gives it life I well there also, with with it being the uniforms for the school that they are in there already in black and white, with very little color. So what little color you have in him adds that much more character to the basically there's, a stereotype that orthodox jews living this quotable black and white world, and and the dress is traditionally very sort of plain white shirts, black pants, black jackets. And I was interested, because a lot who photograph orthodox jews in black and white, because they live in him, black, white world, I don't think they do it all in the same world we do. And I think you got the idea that even if there's only a little color, it adds something to the experience of the story. So this is one of the one of them is my light and shadow photographs from the you see the story. This is how it was used by the philadelphia inquirer sunday magazine, and this actually shot on color negative to go back to that primitive technology that proceeded digital and negative was ideal, because like what you're doing, julie, this is really mixed light inside outside some pretty awful fluorescent, but nate negative film gave me a little more leeway than color slide film, and this is one of those stories that was initially published in the philadelphia inquirer sunday magazine, and that has been was reused a whole bunch of times because it was a subculture that not a lot of people had access to right away, and so the story was reused and published a lot. So here we go with workflow depends a route that means that you understand the value of this one of the parts of this class, it's a little bit odd for me in the classroom teaching in maine in a couple weeks does have more of his shooting and teaching component, but what I loved about working with three on the table is we got to talk at least a little bit about your actual work because most of this class is fundamentally about tools I'm about to give you another tool, which, if you handle right, we'll make a huge difference. So some of the ideas about the important points in workflow setting the camera and capturing the images like I was talking before it, even with the mirror lis cameras to get the quality of exposure that I want to make a good raw file to make a huge enlargement, aiken do if I do it right, um downloading the image to the computer, backing them up? Well, I'm backing up the raw, untouched for unaided images of the final ones. I'll walk you through that, importing photos into an image management software of some kind, you'll notice that I important directly to the computer I don't to go through any software, organizing images into some kind of library, with keywords and albums, processing and re touching the images to get to desired look and these air, all workflow steps that you'll find in most any workflow course, mine is not unique, I actually don't do, for example, a lot of this is I've talked about before, I tend to do right out of the camera output in the emmys for clients in terms of print or web use and then backing up in processing the image is backing up process images and then also creating the image library and archiving the images for online or offline swords. I do all my storage offline, but I actually have what's called offsite backup. I'll talk about that a little bit, so I'm going to throw out some questions for you to consider when you're thinking about workflow, um, anybody who stands up here just like with cameras and says, do this, you should immediately say why because it may work for them but it may or may not work for you my work flow is I'm primarily a stock photographer and it sounds like from the questions for the web there might be some interest in having you come back to creative live and do a stock class and in stock class I go into much greater detail and break it down into its smaller steps but the workflow that I'm doing this for a stock photographer wedding photographer be different I'm sure there are some components of your portrait photography business that air different I'm hoping you'll gain something from this still so remember I said that at the beginning of the first day there's what I call the photographers problems here's another question that you should ask any photographer what technology camera gear to use to solve the problems you're presented with I talked about that earlier when I showed you the actual cameras and now what is your workflow every photographer has a different workflow and I'll walk you through mind what does the work for that that photography is is to minimize their time and their effort maximize the economic return on the work because that's what we're trying to do we're trying to be efficient so I throw this in because I can't tell you how many times I've messed this up this is actually like a post it note that should be on my forehead, right? Yeah because I travel between time zones a lot I hear I'm three time zones away from the east coast and so I gotta remember to reset my clock reset your clock big letters right there there's my flash card wallet I talked about it before again I used for or a k cards I don't use much bigger cards with a strap on to make sure I don't lose it but here's the next step in my work flow I actually have made up these little cardboard inserts that you see right there and what it is is if you see the flash card if you can see the flash card to that insert into space right there where I can see it there are not images on it by comparison where the flash card that little cardboard insert I've made is turned over that is a flash card with images on where I cannot see the card I know this is compulsive that I think you can already figure out why you're doing this right in the middle that shoot you want to change flashcards fast you opening flash card well if you spent a quarter of a second thinking are there pictures so this is really almost industrial strength, bulletproof way of doing I'm not saying you do but you really have to be crystal clear on your system for men in your card you never wanna pause and say uh I prefer the old style cf cards everything unfortunately going to be one of the great things about the old cf cards, you could put your address, phone number and everything on them use your cellphone, don't use your home phone I've had people occasionally call me up and say I found this thing with your number on it and flashcards there's a business card with my cell phone number in the flashcard wallet in case I lose it, hopefully I don't, but, um so now we're gonna go to the minutia of how I'm going to be storing stuff on the road and then working with it at home and sorting it out and archiving it and sending it out to the clients and also putting it into the different folders and files and stuff I have for the projects that I've been talking about. So on the road, I will copy the files to at least two, but probably three hard drives at night, okay, just copy them straight over right there just so I know that I've got a car I haven't done a lot of editing or anything, but I know they're in three places or two minimum usually three, but if there are three places and yes, I'm paranoid, I can then clear my flash cards and go forward um this is my laptop's copying, taking you through everything um, watch the folder name so you don't create it was called the naming conflict were different images with same name overlap? Sometimes on the max? It'll say, do you want? Did you want to do that? Do want us to create a rename? Sometimes it'll just automatically do it for you, and sometimes it'll race the old one. So the object of the game, of course, is to never create a naming conflict, okay? And I used max, you'll run into slightly different problem with windows machines but is fundamentally the same there. Watch the name c don't create naming conflicts um when they first are on my flash cards, they're mixed up in a formats and j pegs raws movie files, they're all mixed up the same on the flash cards, and I'm moving to my desktop in a whole folder without any in any intermediate software, and a lot of people go through light room. I actually prefer not to go right to my desktop. The whole folder is there, and then they start on my card sort of my name, which literally reflects the capture order that I made them and that's ah that's something that's useful to start with, but I'm not going to end up keeping that cause I'm going to sort them the beginning, you see there's olympus raw files alternating with j pegs and later on there's m ovi files so I've got everything here, but I'm going to start sorting it out when I reached this point say ok, let's, take a deep breath, okay, when I get doing stuff, um then I sort the files by type and I'm going later on and it's a larger room down to a smaller number, but right now I'm just sorting by type, so if you look in the column, which is starting with the green where it says one o six a limp right below it and then you go down further, I've got animate stills and video, so I'm starting to sort them by type um, if I see a long series of j pegs like you see there in that one column, that actually is the beginning of time lapse or the beginning of the end, I'm sorry of a time lapse animation the rs of the olympus raw files of the j pegs with this same images as j pegs and then the movies, of course, for videos um and I sort by format and the into separate folders, so I end up like this we'll take the j pegs out, I'll put him in a different folder after this they have been sorted yet, but they're about to be sorted separately and then eventually going to go through and it out of the junk and all that and then copied these sordid sets back onto the same hard drive because I have now short of the mark remember, I put him on the hard drive just everything now I've organized them into sub folders and so instead of having them just everything I've now got the raw files the j pegs the m o v s and there might be audio files as well please copy them over to other dis do you after you've sort of them do you delete ones you're not going to use? Yes, though give me a little bit further because we're going to get to their sort of this the rough editing, heavy editing process but the short answer is that I typically like I'll put them move them right over do a quick pass through to get rid of the complete disasters person ran out of the frame, there was nothing there get rid of those and then typically I'll go through the most arrest this process, then I'll come back and visit it again and probably one more time and then that's the final edit you never want to do the five hundred fifty in one because you may sort something out like five hundred three hundred next day three hundred two hundred two hundred to two hundred one hundred that's where you stop and if I'm on the road, I'm backing it up multiple times, and then I actually I'm deleting the older ones as I improved yet because we're going to go here shortly and reorganize them or also renamed them cindy, okay, when you're shooting everything, do you shoot in in raw and gee peg or just raw? I shoot in raw and j pick, and I do that because a lot of times with, for example, with a pogo do thatjust already the pogo on lee prints from the j peg, so I don't have any choice. A lot of times they'll be jobs where I want to send files out right away to people, and I want to pick out half a dozen j pegs, and if I had the camera, make them it's just that much quicker and also when I'm doing my editing, which I'll show you a little while, I tend to add it to j j peg because they render and they're they're faster than the raw files fills up your card quicker it does philip the card a little bit quicker. A couple things about card you may or may not know this, but you never get above about eighty percent of a card you never feel a card to the top delaware fragmenting a discus. The first time you philip a flash card if he imagines like this it writes all the information across like that then you delete one here in italy one here and so there's all these odd spaces and every time it writes it fragments the information as you get closer and closer to filling it up. The fragmenting gets more and more broken down and you risk losing the organization of an image so you really want to stop it around eighty percent this is not unique to flash cards also too with hard drives by the way in your laptop you really don't your laptop one hundred percent either so um that's what I'm aspiring to do I'm is guilty as anybody else is going up to ninety percent when I'm in a hurry but that's what I hope to do so I'm copying them over doing that rough first edit but not the final eddie yet get home that's my old digital dark room wasn't that a mess it's going to get cleaned up shortly? I used to have what I call a hard drive farm which I've also recently replaced your hard drive should always be in pairs for double back up you know that but it's a huge huge part of what you want to do because you want to have the same thing twice you also never want tohave you also never wanna have um the same brand and model in your pair because, for example, and I'm not picking on them, but I've got a lucy at the top and then I've got to see further down. If one lissy fails, the one that was bought of the same day, which is in the same line is probably going to fail about an hour later, so you never want to pair up exactly the same hard drive. I must say, I've been very lucky the only hard drive failures I've ever had have been related to what I was talking to you before about moving them when they're hot, so I'm very diligent about not moving them when they're hot. Um, so I haven't had any hard right failures recently, but you don't wanna have pairs of the exact same thing because you're just increasing the risk of something going wrong. I just recently got a nice new, groovy looking raid in that nice, so redundant array of independent discs cleans up my desktop. Everything looks much nicer now. It has two cartridges in it that are two terabytes each okay, and two terabytes seemed like a lot, but we're working on a way to filling up two terabytes, and they mirror each other so that plugs into my laptop. And as soon as I copy anything to the hard drive it gets copied to both of them automatically cleans up my desktop which makes it look very nice and very happy about that. And so this is what the backside looks like there's one of the two terabyte hard drives on top and that slides in latches in and out and then there's the other one on the bottom and the raids software built into the machine automatically copies anything that I sent to it goes to both of them automatically I'm normally pretty brand agnostic on hard drives I found that if there's a failure it's usually my fault not theirs I hope I'm not starting a controversy on the web but that's been my experience it's usually my fault um what I like about the cal digit v r which is specific to this brand is that I actually have a third copy of that two terabyte hard drive which sits in the safe deposit box at the bank down the street it's called offsite backup and you really do want offsite backup you're gonna go through the trouble to build these whole project you're going to become known for them you're going to get be a master of the elevator pitch all the stuff we've been doing and if he only copies you have are two digital copies in your house and god forbid something happens to your house so I have a third copy, which sits in the bank down the street, and what I love so much about the cal digit is that I take one of those out, put it in the safe in the bank, put the other one back in their plug it in and it rebuilds automatically transfer all that information without another computer. There are many, many raids out there which are all very good, but most of rage required a computer rebuild the information from one dis to the other, and the reason I like the cal digit isn't rebuilds without another computer and so literal. When I'm doing this it's sitting in the other room because it takes about twenty hours to rebuild a two terabyte overnight and so that's why it happened like that particular rate going into further detail. And I know this is part of this is a little over the top, but I hope you understand sort of what you have to do is make a decision about how far into this compulsiveness are you going to go? And I think double back up, I think you really should be doing I happen to think you should be doing offsite backup is, well, um this is my dvd back up his well, and I backed by the same images up on dvds, and they're always in pairs for double back up just like I was talking about with the actual hard drives my didn't my dvds always have both my olympus raw files and the adobe d n gs so that way I've got more options when it comes to opening the work I don't usually archive finished tiff files or j pegs I'll talk a little bit about that later but most of time I'm archiving the raw files in the adobe d n gs this is actually what those dvds look like in a duel double jule case sorry my dvds are made of gold foil rather than vegeta will die because most your dvds actually have about twenty to thirty year life expectancy and then the the metal stores the information literally floats off and you lose the information and these actually are made out of gold there about four dollars each unfortunately but this stuff's gonna be around a hundred years for my daughter or who's twenty one my imaginary grandchildren and they're always in pairs as I said in double jewel case I hope you know that you never write on dvd anywhere in dvd never write because you're right either if you rat on one side you're going to interrupt the laser reading and if you're right in the back side the chemicals are going to go through and eventually lift that foil often take that information if you have to write on dvds you're writing a little clear circle in the very center but I don't even do that I just keep two of them in these cases with those labels that I showed you before at home I use a graphics tablet have graphics tablets you know graphic stablize it looks just like this little pan over there on the side I use this in place of a mouse if you go to camera store and you say you want to buy a graphics tablet will say great we can say you won five hundred twelve levels of pressure on the pen for photo shop which my wife uses because she does a lot of really serious photo shop where you can go to staples on the other hand and say I want one with thirty two levels of pressure which is about thirty one more than I need because I actually used that pan and lu of a mouse I go around that the space the graphic sabbath click click and it's so much more ergonomic a pen is than a mouse so though I have a mouse and they use it some I mostly use this and the cheaper ones the thirty two levels of pressure about forty two dollars and just the the benefit for your hand alone makes it worthwhile and it's also great if you are doing photo shop and moving stuff around so I use a graphics tablet so people ask me what software did that do I use I have no idea what you should use. I know what I used, and I'm going to talk about what I use, but don't go out and buy it because I use it. Software is just like a camera what's the problem that you have to solve, okay, light room solves a certain problem. Well, photo shop solves a different problem. Well, so I'm going to show you what I use, okay, what software with software must do is what matters. I'll show you mine, and then I'll explain why you need to see if in order to solve your particular work for problems, do you need to do those steps? You may see some of the steps that I'm going to take you through particular example involving m ovi files and video files, and you may say, I don't need to do them helpful to know. Okay, um, if you can if so, can your software do the steps that I need you to do? And if not, how can you get that done? That's the question to ask and I'm guessing at the end of this, you're going to say, I'm guessing, I don't know even need to do that, and so I'm going to say, well, this is how I do that, and there are many ways to do that all right um now that I'm home I ate it down the numbers as I said before and I back up in archive the final keeps the way you saw but again to go back to I think what your question was in the field I only get rid of the complete disasters I may do one passed to get rid of the blinks and the really obvious things then I made you another edit frequently on the airplane and then I'll do last headed home because I don't want to go through and in a good mood or a bad mood and make that final edit and then when I got the final edit that's what I'm going to be at this point where I'm going to start the raid that I showed you the uh dvds that I showed you and then the offsite backup until this point in time what's about to happen is I'm copying the files from my desktop onto the raids as I was describing before there's the screen grab literally of the images going to the raids and then my goal is a stock photographer is to end up putting the still images out of course to the photo agencies and this is how I tracked them by the photo agencies and who ends up using them that's my end use wedding photographers here's a surprise they typically do by the bride and the groom studio photographers who's paying the job so that's how you sort of what works for you your call this is what works for me. I also am going to be starting increasingly the multimedia still video and animations for the stock agencies as well as for the and user. So if you look where it says under the word arranged there's actually now six different categories how I've sorted my stuff for this particular job, and that doesn't necessarily apply it with the ideas you want to sort them by type will eventually start talking about sorting them by the project, but first you have to just hidden material sort of correctly in my case, the new thing, which I'm doing more and more, I'm recording a lot of audio as well as video, so I have to record away files, which is one of this one of the many standard video formats, and so the wave files have their own separate folder, so the software capabilities that I need okay, that I need these are necessary what you need, but you may want to think about this. I want software that will be able to rename files exactly as I choose to do thiss renaming your files is the number one lesson of thiss whole afternoon section, if you get that right, if you understand, if you start to figure out how they're gonna name your image is going forward. It will make your life much, much easier on one of the problems that some of the software's give you the option every name he easily some of them it's really sort of a battle to rename your images it must default the software toe looking at all levels of image folders within a folder regardless of file type and without added steps and what that basically means is some of the software's when you want to look at what foot it files tohave it only looks for j pegs on looks for tips the software used will look for anything in there at any level of the hierarchy so I can look into one folder and see all the different stuff that you have in there. All right, so now I'm going through early on, I'm going to change my files to my naming convention and naming convention is enormously important talk about here in just a second, and so this is an example of the software that I use and you'll see at the top I'm telling the renaming option is file name below its star says a o four and then ends is something in october two thousand twelve north carolina houses so what is my naming convention my name in conventional interaction deck track what's the naming convention for once you have names to get together, an elected president said that you khun easily search for that file when you needed it correct anymore I mean that's the short answer I'm my naming conviction actually goes one level further than that is that part of your copyright when you're doing a copyright and you're doing your batch together that actually is part of it is well yes but that's not the one I was about to get to but but so far both of you are saying points that are important about why you have a naming convention I mean the starting point of naming conventions you can't name every photo dog on the beach right after the third dog on the beach here in trouble but you want to be able to find it and when you want to register for library congress which we're going to talk about a little while you actually have to have a specific name now that's correct my naming convention does all those things and does one more thing if you send me an image and you have the name march two thousand seven uh providence whatever number one two, three four I confined it by that name because I'm very organized my naming convention is actually the month excuse me the year and then some kind of locator because what I get increasingly if somebody will send me a frame grab of the image because they don't actually have the name and unfortunately the social media channel or something else has stripped out the exit data which I put all I have all my access data going in my images when they go out it may or may not stay there but it goes in there before the images go out so all that stuff is lost so I have to find the image based on what's in front of me I tend to go to the same places based on season every year so that's why season his first year second and then some kind of reference thought process trigger in this case it was called providence for why living in the northern shore of course is what I was photographic so that's how I use the naming convention again a bridegroom typically it's the last names a studio it might be something else but the idea is all of the things you said in terms of first finding them registering with library congress but my thing is how do I find that if I don't have a name or number unfortunately with social media's sites stripping out the exit and sometimes you don't and people do frame grabs and all sorts of stuff so I run it through the program that I use and you'll see here it's changing it from the before on the left to the after I like to keep those last four numbers because it gives me a sense of how much I shot that's not a big thing but that's part of my work flow and so this is again my naming convention at work. Those the dvds on the far left you have june two thousand three, july two thousand three, in august of two thousand three, something, um in the middle, you have, oh, six o for italy, one italy to. And these were what I store as the dvds as well.

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Ratings and Reviews


First off, I was a photo assistant for a few years to a photographer who did numerous multi-day workshops. This was my first time as a student sitting in on a webinar that actually kept me interested. Sometimes I'm turned off by the pace of the teacher, his or her voice, or the manner in which they disseminate the information. But this was truly fantastic. David showed lots of his work in a way that was NOT egotistical in any sense (something that does happen quite often). I was utterly impressed by the quality of his work, the wealth of knowledge he has on the world, culture and politics, and how he shoots "on the go". All of those qualities are essential parts to creating a great photo essay/story. I came into this seminar needing inspiration and in the end I have more ideas than I know what to do with. David's work is truly magnificent; his photo stories pertain to people and their struggles, which really could be something any one of us could go through at any point, but he shows it in a way that is beautiful - either beautifully desperate or beautifully destructive - instead of in an exploitative way. On a side note, he also offered up a lot of great information having to do with funding, exposure, workflow, time efficiency, income streams, releases... you won't find this a lot with other photographers. You will find the "go find the info yourself" attitude. This has been my problem as of late with photography - we don't work together as artists, we work against each other competing for what, I'm not sure. David's seminar seemed to embrace photography as the art form it is, and shared with us the tools that we as artists need to really understand and utilize in order to get our story out there. A story it seems he really wants to see/hear. Just an amazing "Thank You"!!!!

a Creativelive Student

I have purchased a number of classes on Creative Live. This class taught by David Wells is one of the best. David is a thorough teacher, personal and connects with his students. Along with his superb and inspiring imagery David talked about his experiences in getting funding, his workflow, developing his stories and distributing his work. David is talented, generous and an excellent teacher. Highly recommended class.

Anjani Millet

Just completed the course. Fantastic, practical information on everything from grant writing, finding foundations, proposal development, even how to shake hands overseas. I am not sure where else I would have found this information for photographers. So appreciate it. One friend asked if this would be worth watching for anyone outside the US and the answer is a definitive yes. Very happy I purchased, and already starting to implement.

Student Work