My Photo Workflow Continues to Evolve


Your post production workflow – the steps you take after uploading your photos to your computer – is always a topic that is worth reviewing from time to time. As the technology, software,  and your knowledge change, you will probably find that your workflow also evolves.

A few weeks ago, I posted an article that described how and why I retired from active service the Photoshop Elements Catalog I have been using for well over ten ears. To se that article, CLICK HERE. In this post, I describe what the basic steps are after I have uploaded my images to Photoshop Elements 13. Yes, I still use PSE 13 for managing my 50K images. Since I teach beginning Lightroom classes, I have been exploring it more thoroughly as of late. In fact I even “upgraded” (Adobe’s term, not mine) my prime photos catalog to LR5. I have a few initial thoughts on the success of this, but that is the subject of another article.

PSE 13 Welcome

Here is my current workflow that uses both the PSE 13 Organizer and its Photo Editor, with Photoshop CC added to the mix when needed. The description begins as soon as the photos and videos have been imported to the PSE 13 Organizer.

1. The first thing I do is tag my photos. If the subject matter is pretty fixed, this step takes only seconds. For example, on a typical weekend of watching my granddaughters’ softball and soccer games, I may find that come Sunday evening I have 500 images and several videos on my memory card. I already have the tag structure and tags defined. It’s just a matter of selecting the right images and dragging them over to the appropriate tags.
A. If the input batch is from a trip or similar event or photo shoot, I will at least tag the images at the Category level,
and then come back later to sub-divide them into Sub-Categories, and Keyword Tags.

B. Since PSE 11, I have made use of the Events, People, and to a lesser extent Places tags.

Org Grid

2. I next screen the images using the Full Screen View option (F11) in the Organizer. I will also make use of the side-by-side display option (F12) as needed.
A. I skip over any videos I have imported at this point
B. To cull out the best photos I use the Organizer’s Star Rating feature:

1 = Delete

2 = Needs work, provides a good class example, or is member of a burst, HDR, or panorama sequence.

3 = Will most likely be included in a slide show, or DVD I plan to make at some point. Often these are not the best photos in the world from a technical standpoint, but are needed to better tell the story. I will also give the best photo of a sequence 3 stars.

4 = These are pretty good for me, and probably are the ones that I will most likely end up printing.

5 = Hardly ever awarded at this stage

After Step 2, I still have many images that have not been rated. They will remain in my Catalog.

3. I now screen the video clips that were uploaded in the grid view. I double-click on the video file and play the video in the enlarged window that appears, rather than in the full screen mode.

PSE Video Preview

4. More recently, if I have essentially completed the keyword tagging of my images, I will write them and other metadata to the image files – File > Save Metadata to Files. If I do not do this, only those images that I have at least opened in the Editor will have the tagging and other metadata written to the file itself.

5. I then delete all of the 1 star images/videos from the Catalog, as well as the hard drive. Typically from a weekend of shooting soccer and softball games, I’ll end up with in the order of a couple of hundred images. This is far too many, and I’m working on raising my standards. The percentage of keepers is roughly the same when the images are of general subjects, such as scenery.

6. Next comes editing those photos and videos that are either in a sequence (2 Stars) and those that have 3 or 4 Stars.
A. Since I almost Always shoot RAW, I will naturally do my initial editing using the ACR.
B. Normally, that is all the editing I need to do. I fact, that is my goal, for individual photos.
C. If I can do that, I do not need to save an edited version. My changes are recorded in a small .xmp file.

7. To print the photo or make editing changes requiring, for example selections or layers, I will open the image in Elements’ Photo Editor.

Alternately, I will on occasion, send the RAW image directly to Photoshop’s ACR to take advantage of its added tools and/or Photoshop itself. However, this will require that a dupe (actually a Version Set) of the RAW file to be generated, which will take up additional disk drive space.

8. The final step of my basic workflow is to periodically do either a Full Backup or Incremental Backup of my Catalog and all of the media it contains (File > Backup Catalog).

This pretty much summarizes my basic workflow. Somewhere between Steps 7 and 8, I put together my photo projects, whatever they may be.

I would love to hear your thoughts and workflow steps that you use or in PSE or other programs.

2 thoughts on “My Photo Workflow Continues to Evolve

  1. Don-My work flow is much simpler because I don’t need the retrieval system you have. I download the pics in iPhoto and do three edit passes. These are potential prints and DVD material. Next I put them through ACR and into Elements 13. These are then put on an external drive and a DVD. The DVD has the DSC # group written onto the face and then Prints are made along with a DVD. I’m finished with them unless I need extra prints.


  2. Pingback: My Basic Photo Workflow Revisited – Don's Digital Photo Corner – Blog

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