Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Organizing Your Photography Part I

Steel Drum Competition in Trinidad - 5_tonemapped
Please accept my apologies for the longer than normal lapse since my last post…you are not likely interested in my excuses, so I won’t waste the energy typing them.
This entry will focus on some specific questions posted by friends of the blog.  Specifically, I will talk about some thoughts on how to organize your photography.
This is not an easy subject because there are a lot of variable to consider, such as:
  • What type of photography are you doing?  (A wedding photographer is likely to organize quite differently than a landscape photographer)
  • How are you displaying your photography?  (people are printing less and less…more photography is finding a home in electronic display only)
  • How important is it to quickly retrieve older or archived photography?
  • If you were to search for archived photography, how would you do that and what structure makes most sense to you?
  • How do you think?  (Some people do best with data such as dates, and others with images).
  • Do you shoot for different purposes (i.e. personal vs. professional, documentary vs. artistic)
There are plenty of other factors, but this list is sufficient to demonstrate that organizing your photography is not necessarily a straightforward task and there is not a single solution best matched to each individual.  After hiding behind this lengthy disclaimer, I will now explain my process.  I offer this not as a model for you to duplicate, but rather as an example to consider when contemplating what system might work best for you.
First, we need to think of organizing and archiving photography as a process.  For me, this process begins when I import the photographs from the camera and ends when…well, it doesn’t really end.  I hope this will become clear shortly.  In summary the steps include:
  1. Import photos through lightroom to the current year catalog.
  2. Process Photos and mark the “select” photographs.
  3. Export and copy select photographs to the gallery
  4. At year’s end, close out a calendar year and export to a collection of current year selects:  (e.g. 2009 Select Photos).
  5. At year’s end, copy both the closed year catalog (e.g. 2008 Catalog) and the select collection (e.g. 2008 Sele Photos) to a secure storage device.
  6. Revise you gallery structure to be consistent with how you think.
Don’t worry if this does not seem to make a great deal of sense.  This is just an overview of the process.  In the next posting or two, I will cover each of the steps in more detail.
Steel Drum Competition in Trinidad - 5
Finally, a note about the photographs featured on this post.  They are both the same shot…processed differently.  The photograph comes from the 2005 steel band competition in Trinidad and Tobago.  The competition took place in the Port of Spain, the capitol of Trinidad and Tobago.
Now to the difference in processing.  The second shot represents my normal processing in Lightroom.  The first shot incorporates the normal Lightroom processing, plus single shot high dynamic range (HDR) processing in Photomatix (  I will leave this as a tease and a promise to write about HDR photography in the future.  In the mean time, if you can’t wait and want to learn more about HDR photography, I recommend both the Photomatix website and even more so, the absolutely terrific material posted by Trey Ratcliff at
Go make some great photography!

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