I love the photography process from start to finish. I love scouting/setting up a shot, taking the shot, processing the shot and sharing the end result.
Photography is both art and therapy for me.
But it wasn’t always like this. It took many years to make my process work for me.
Today, I want to share with you my photography workflow from start to finish. I hope this will help you come up with a workflow that will work for you too.
My Photography Workflow (Start to Finish):
Visualizing the shot before it happens can really help you communicate what you want to with the photo. Most people think that you photographers just hop out of the car, snap a shot and then go. They don’t realize the thought and planning that can go into a great photo.
Here are the steps I use when I am thinking about a photo. The photo above is a pull back to show you where I am setting up my shot in my office. I am using natural light and a coffee table.
- Determine your location. Do you have a certain place in mind to take your photo? A certain time (sunrise, sunset, golden hour, etc.) When is the best time to go there?
- Check to make sure you have enough light. Are you taking a picture indoors? Does your determined location have enough natural light, or will you use artificial light? To find the best light in your home, check out this tutorial —> Finding the Light In Your House for the Best Indoor Photos.
- Get your props/people together. What do you want in the shoot? Do you need to buy food, props or invite someone to be in the picture?
- Visualize the shot. How do you want the shot to look? What is the mood? What are you trying to portray
Taking the Shot
Now that you know what you want to shoot, it is time to make the idea a reality. Here are some things to think about while you are shooting.
- Figure out what camera you will use (phone or dslr). I use these 2 cameras for different things. For instagram or a quick, easy photo I use my iPhone. For low light, close up (macro) or for something that I need a zoom, I use my higher quality DSLR.
- If using a dslr, determine which lens. I have several different lenses, from wide angle to 35 mm to macro and also I have a zoom lens. I use the lenses differently depending on what I am shooting.
- Evaluate the light and motion to set the camera settings. Once you have things ready to go, evaluate the light and motion going on in your photo so you know what your settings need to be.
- Take several shots from different angles and compositions. You don’t want to just take one shot and be done. By trying different angles and compositions with different props or backgrounds. Then you have much more to work with in post processing.
- Make sure to check for distractions in the frame. Don’t you hate it when you think you have an awesome picture, but when you look at it afterward, you realize there is a tree sticking out of someone’s head or something that is out of place. The best photos are clean and visually appealing, so check for distractions while you are shooting. This will save time later in post processing.
I took these photos with my iPhone because it was a quick shoot for Instagram. I moved the magazines and camera around before I finally decided on which way I liked best. I also had to remove a little piece of wood (you can see it in the 2nd picture in the bottom right) that I didn’t see when I was shooting. Distractions!
Processing the Shot
- Upload the shots into Lightroom. I always start in Lightroom. You can also use bridge to upload photos straight to Photoshop.
- Do basic edit (white balance, exposure, contrast, noise reduction, etc). In Lightroom, I do slight adjustments to my photo.
- Move to Photoshop. I take my Lightroom adjustments with me to Photoshop, where I do more work if needed.
- Do more complicated edit (cropping, spot removal, etc.). Usually I do my cropping and cleaning up (if necessary) in Photoshop. You can also do more extensive editing like head swapping and background extraction if you need to here.
- Use an action for noise reduction and sharpening. I have my own action that I made for noise reduction and sharpening. By making an action for a common edit, you save time and keep things more standard for each photo.
- Save in .jpg form on my computer. I shoot in RAW and save in JPEG. This saves room on my computer and makes photos easy to share.
Sharing the Shot
- Reduce size for web sharing (makes uploading faster). When sharing on the web, you want to decrease the size of your photo so that it uploads quicker and decreases the quality for those that might want to steal your image.
- Watermark if necessary. If you are worried about your photos being stolen, you can add a watermark to your image after you decrease the size.
- Share to my favorite social media channel (Instagram, Facebook, etc.). Now we can share with our friends, family and blog readers the awesome photos we took ourselves. Yes!
Here is the final edit of this photo for Instagram:
- Think about your photography workflow.
- Find ways to streamline the process.
- If you don’t know how to use Lightroom/Photoshop, find a way to learn. I discuss these 2 great programs in this post.
If you take many photos in one session like most photographers do, you need a consistent workflow. This will help you save time and energy on each shoot. It will also help you develop a cohesive look for your brand. So find what works for you and stick with it!
How does this photography workflow compare to yours? Let us know in the comments below. And if you found this post helpful, please share. Thanks!
Mastering Manual Mode Cheatsheet PDF
Sign up for this cheatsheet and keep it in your camera bag as a reference as you learn how to shoot with your camera on Manual. This cheatsheet can get you out of a sticky situation when you don't know what settings to use.
By signing up for this PDF download, you will also join our email list for weekly photography tips straight to your inbox. You can unsubscribe at any time!