How I Got Time Back by Improving My Workflow

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Whitney is the owner of Bliss Studio specializing in children and families and primarily shooting with natural light. She is currently a sponsored speaker for WHCC and enjoys teaching others about her passion. She resides in Portland, Oregon with her husband and two children.

As a portrait photographer my post production looms over me after every session and takes way more time than it should. I don’t know about you, but spending long hours in front of the computer getting images ready for clients is rough. An hour shooting can easily be three to four hours in post production. Resulting in many late night editing sessions and trying to edit while my family life swirls around me. It has gone from my favorite part and turned into my least favorite. I’ve needed a new solution longer than I care to admit. ON1 solved this for me with the latest release, ON1 Photo RAW 2017.  With a few adjustments to my workflow, my post production time has gone from 3-4 hours to 10-15 minutes. This has been LIFE changing for me! I’m finally able to get my editing done quickly and can enjoy more time behind the camera and more time with my family.

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If you are anything like me, change is not always something to get excited about. I always say “Old Habits Die Hard” and unfortunately that isn’t far from the truth. My workflow has needed some updating for quite some time. Taking the time to rework it to be more productive was something I continually pushed aside. There always seemed to be more important tasks to work on.

I remember the times when I could finish a handful of my favorite images to show my clients and it was acceptable. Now, showing clients unfinished work is not a good representation of my studio. We all work hard to define our styles and look, which represent our studios and who we are as artists. My clients view anywhere from 50-100 images from a typical session.  In the past, I would open each of those images into Photoshop® and use ON1 as a plug-in to add my Bliss look to each image. Are you doing the math? That is hours of time to complete a simple task. The time you invest in creating a seamless workflow is time you’ll get back going forward.

So how you do make a change to your workflow to have a huge impact? Start by setting your goals or addressing areas that need improvement. I made three goals that needed to happen.

  1. Cull through images faster
  2. Faster way to add my Bliss look to my images
  3. Have a set of finished proofs to show my client

Here is how I accomplished each of these goals with my new workflow in ON1 Photo RAW.

1. Culling through images faster.

This has always been a pain point. The digital world has given us unlimited potential so we end up over shooting. We ALL do. I’m not saying this is a bad thing as I primarily photograph kids. A huge chunk of my images get tossed as running around after a wild two year old means lots of camera clicks. So how do we make this faster? Think of this in reverse. Let’s say I shot 500 images of my wild two year old. I know that I’m going to give my client 50-ish photos. So, rather than culling and trying to pick out the 450 bad photos, why not just select the 50 favorite photos? This is time saver number one. I cull through my images using the star rating of 5 for every image I want to keep. I already know I only want to show the best shots to my client, so I don’t dwell on images that are just okay. I quickly go through each image and just keep my favorites. In Browse, I find its the easiest to enter Film strip view. Here you can see a large preview as well as your film strip so you know where you are at in the session.

2. Faster way to add my Bliss look to my images
Once I have my images edited down to my favorites its time to add my Bliss look. Presets are magic! If you don’t have presets created, I highly recommend taking time to create some or purchase ones that you love. I have presets I’ve created and already use from ON1 (Photo 10) which help define the Bliss style. Each of those presets also work in Photo RAW. My favorite part of Photo RAW is being able to apply these presets directly from Browse (see how) without having to open Develop or Effects. 90% of my post production work is completed in Browse in just minutes! (you can also see how to copy and paste photo settings quickly)
In Browse, there is a tab called Presets. I select this tab and I can see every category of presets I have created.
I select an image and click on the category and choose the preset I want to add.
Even better,  I prefer to grab a group or a series of images so I can add a preset to all of the images in my selection.
I continue adding presets to my images directly from Browse by grabbing groups or series of images as needed. Once I finish, I start back at the beginning and will select a dozen or so images which may need a little fine tuning. I’ll pull each of those into either Develop or Effects and make any changes needed, like rotating a texture. All my settings I applied in the preset are remembered and I can easily make small adjustments to them as needed.

3. Have a set of finished proofs to show client

I now have my images culled, edited and ready for the next step. Since Photo RAW is a non-destructive work environment none of the changes I have made are on my original files. The solution I use is to export the files with the settings applied, so I can sell finished photos to my clients. Export allows you to change the file type, size and colorspace to get exactly the files you need.  I will use the same files I exported to create my clients order, web files or images for a slideshow.

Making these changes in my workflow took time in the beginning to get the kinks worked out. It was time well invested and worth the effort I put into it.  Each of us has our own goals and ways of editing and working on our images. I encourage you to take some time during this slow time of year to re-evaluate. Find your pain points and make an effort to improve them.  My life has already been impacted and I no longer dread my post production. It is quick and pain free.  I have made it my goal this year to continue to improve the processes in my studio so that I can be more efficient and give myself more time to enjoy life. 

Whitney Stevens
Bliss Studio

If you like the look of any of the above images, check out my Bliss Studio Sweet Signature Collection. It includes three of my Bliss Studio collections of ON1 Presets. You’ll get 46 total presets utilizing Bliss Studio’s Soft & Muted tones, Signature Black & White, and Summertime Collection ON1 Presets.

6 comments on “How I Got Time Back by Improving My Workflow”

  1. On February 1, 2017 at 9:15 pm Adam Rubinstein wrote:

    Congratulations on streamlining and simplifying your workflow. Years ago when I was shooting sports, having an efficient workflow was as important as capturing the shot. Now that I shoot more creatively, having a well defined workflow is secondary to developing and executing the desired image. Nonetheless, your points are well taken and thank you for your insights

    1. On February 2, 2017 at 3:53 pm Whitney Stevens replied:

      Thanks Adam for reading and leaving your kind comment. You are right, workflow goes hand in hand with shooting to make the whole process smooth. It is always worth a second look to find ways to improve.

  2. On February 3, 2017 at 9:54 am Mike Taylor wrote:

    I’ve been hearing wonderful things about ON1, even from an associate of who uses it almost daily.
    With positive feedback such as this post, it seems to be a no-brainer.

  3. On February 9, 2017 at 1:57 pm MaryEllyn Vicksta wrote:

    Thanks, Whitney, for sharing your thinking process when you were evaluating your workflow and the three goals that you set for yourself based upon your needs. I learned a lot by reading your article and plan to consider a few changes in my workflow habits, like creating my own set of pre-sets for a look that I would like to use consistently for a shoot instead of doing them one by one.

  4. On February 13, 2017 at 8:06 am Petr Krenzelok wrote:

    I’ve created a reversed WFL, but similar. Starting with 1 star for the keepers, then adding another stars, so usually 3 stars is a gallery, which is previewed by clients and 4 stars is the final selection. What I am now looking forward to, are the following features:

    – Shared editing between the two photographers, using sidecar files – can be done with recent version
    – Virtual copies + photo stacking – ability to start a different development of the same photo for creative purposes, ability to stack/hide photos
    – Comparison/Survey mode

    I wait for Photo RAW becoming a more mature and then I am willing to give presentation to other photographers. We all lose so much time by not using our tools effectively :-)

    Thanks for your blog post – kind of confirms my experience too …

    1. On February 13, 2017 at 8:33 am Whitney Stevens replied:

      Thanks for your comments Petr. The compare mode is coming soon and what I am also looking forward to. Each release continues to get better and better :)

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