Workflow – From image capture to print

Overview

We often hear the term workflow, which is the name for the multi-step process from image capture in the camera to image display (electronically or print). I’m not going to attempt to duplicate the voluminous information that’s available on this subject – Google digital photography workflow to get over 700,000 hits.

  • In a quick survey of the first page of those 721,000 this one seemed fairly complete
  • or for the most authoritative, comprehensive treatment here is a wonderful site devoted to all things related to digital photography workflow – aptly named dpBestflow.org (created by the American Society of Media Photographers and funded by the Library of Congress).
  • If you want a jump start on the whole subject of workflow go to this section of dpBestflow where a typical end-to-end workflow is described with a series of five movies (about 45 minutes total), flowcharts and item-by-item listings.

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Understand this – No one workflow routine will satisfy every photographer! For example, event photographers have different needs from portrait photographers; in fact, every genre has at least some special needs. Further, each step in this multi-step process requires tools to accomplish the particular step and we all have different preferences for each. Listed in the typical order they are encountered in a workflow these tools are –

  • Cameras and memory cards
  • Download devices
  • Computers & Monitors
  • Digital asset management (DAM) software for image storage and retrieval
  • Color Management tools (software & hardware)
  • Image editing software
  • Image display
    • Electronic – website selection, design, maintenance
    • Prints – printer, printing software, paper & ink selections, profiling

When you consider the vast number of permutations & combinations of the (abbreviated) list above, you can see why one size does not fit all. The only thing in common among all workflows is that they all include the steps listed above in roughly the order shown.

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So, what am I planning to discuss? I am going to make some (personal) observations on each of the steps of a typical digital photography workflow together with examples of the “size that fits me.” Hopefully, you can decide your own size based on this. The important thing to realize is –

Regardless of how you choose to accomplish any specific workflow step – to obtain quality final images you must employ a consistent workflow and use that workflow for each and every image. If there’s a hole in your workflow, it needs to be fixed.

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Next post – workflow step #1, image capture considerations and questions (such as – If you don’t shoot RAW, why not? Your memory card – How big? How formatted?)