My Basic Photo Workflow Revisited


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 changes.

About a year and a half ago, I posted an article that summarized my workflow. Looking back it, there are a few things that I have changed. In this post, I will describe the current steps I generally do. To see that article, CLICK HERE.

In this post, I describe what the basic steps are after I have uploaded my images to Photoshop Elements 14.

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Here is my current workflow that uses both the PSE 14 Organizer and its Photo Editor, with Photoshop CC added to the mix when needed. The description begins as soon as I have imported photos and videos into the PSE 14 Organizer.

  1. The first thing I do is tag my photos. If the subject matter is pretty fixed, this step takes only seconds.
    1. 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.
    2. 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.
  2. I use Events, Places, and to a much lesser extent People views – the tabs at the top of the screen.

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3. I next screen the images using the Full Screen View option (F11) in the Organizer.

I skip over any videos I have imported at this point.To cull out the best photos I use the Organizer’s Star Rating feature using:

1 = Delete

2 = Needs work, or is member of a burst, HDR, or panorama sequence.

3 = These will most likely be included into an Album for a slide show, or DVD I plan to make at some point. They may not always be 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 = Rarely awarded at this stage

After Step 3, I still have many images that have not been rated. They will remain in my Catalog.

4. 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.

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5. If I am interested in the location where the photos were taken, I will then use Places view to pin point on the map the photos and videos were taken.

My current camera can embed the GPS data into the image files, so while taking the photos I turn this feature on for at least a couple of shots. I do not leave it on all of the time, because it drains the battery significantly.

If I forget to do it, I will take a couple of shots with my iPhone, and use these photos to identify the location using Places.

If need be, like when I have shot only video, I will manually add the location of the photos using the Places view.

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6. At this point, I have finished the vast majority of my keyword tagging of my images. I then write the Keyword Tags and other metadata to the image files – File > Save Metadata to Files. If you do not do this, only those images that have been at least opened in the Editor will have the tagging and other metadata written to the file itself.

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7. I then delete all of the 1 star images/videos from the Catalog, as well as the hard drive.

8. Next comes editing those photos and videos that are either in a sequence (2 Stars) and those that have 3 or 4 Stars.

Since I shoot RAW, I will naturally do my initial editing using the ACR.

Normally, that is all the editing I need to do. I fact, that is my goal, for individual photos.

If I can do that, I do not need to save an edited version. My changes are recorded in a small .xmp file.

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

Occasionally, I will send the RAW image directly to Photoshop CC’s ACR to take advantage of its added tools and/or Photoshop CC 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.

10. 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. Generally, after Step 9, 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.

Working with Catalogs in Both Photoshop Elements and Lightroom


In Photoshop Elements

PSE Organizer

If you have used the Organizer in Photoshop Elements to manage your photos, you undoubtedly know the Cardinal Rules that you must not disobey if you want to avoid serious heartaches and frustration.

The rules are:

Once a photo has been imported into the Catalog…

Do not Delete the photo,

Do not Move the photo,

Do not Rename the photo,

Unless you use the applicable commands in Photoshop Elements. The same basic rules hold for the folders in which the photos are stored.

Remember, the Organizer’s Catalog is like a card catalog in a library. It does not contain the books. It only contains information about the books, including on what shelf the book is contained.

The PSE commands to move and rename photos are in the sub-menu under File.

 PSE File Sub-Menu

 To see comparable commands to modify folders, do the following:

  1. Open the left panel, by clicking on the Show Panel in the lower left corner of the screen.
  2. Click on Folders at the top of the panel.
  3. Click on the parallel lines button and then select View as Tree.
  4. Scroll to find the folder you want to modify, and then right click on it.
  5. Select the task you want to perform and follow the screen prompts.

PSE Folder View

You can also drag and drop folders to move them in this view, but I prefer to not to. It is too easy for me to move them to the wrong place.

In Lightroom

 LR Library Module

I suspect many of you who started out using Photoshop Elements to organize and edit your photos may be thinking about moving on to Lightroom, or have recently done so. There are many reasons to do that, not the least of which is you can rent Lightroom CC and Photoshop CC from Adobe for $10 per month!

The Catalog used in the Library module of Lightroom is essentially the same as the Catalog in Elements. That is, they are both databases. They do not contain the actual photos, only previews of them, with pointers to where the physical files are stored.

Because Lightroom was designed for professional photographers, it is more robust than the Organizer in Photoshop Elements and consequently somewhat harder to use. There are a multitude of websites and blogs that cover using Lightroom. One of the many Lightroom experts is Victoria Bampton.

Below is a sampling of her articles that discuss similar topics in using Lightroom. As you can see the tasks are a bit more complicated.

How do I move only my photos to another hard drive, leaving the catalog where it is?

How do I find and move or rename my catalog?

 Which Lightroom files do I need to back up?

In future posts, I will cover using Lightroom in much more detail, but hopefully the above articles will get you started on the right foot.

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