This week in the small business app series, I share the three applications I use for my wedding and lifestyle photography business. When it comes to photography, there are literarily several hundreds of apps to enhance your images. From the mega apps such as Adobe to quick on the go apps designed just for held devices, there is no shortage of apps. Deciding which app is right for your business can come from various reviews and recommendation. I believe you will find the app that fits your particular editing style. For me, here are the three apps that have worked well.
- Photo Mechanic by Camera Bits is one of the best apps I adopted early on. It lives up to its reputation as an ‘image browser and workflow accelerator that lets you view your digital photos with convenience and speed.’ Imagine needing to cull through several thousand imagines after an 8 hour wedding day. For culling images, Photo Mechanic does a better job than Adobe Lightroom. I use two of its features - cull and export. I do not edit in this app.
- Cull images. My RAW image handling preference is set to open with Photo Mechanic so it automatically opens the app. The initial selection is supposed to be quickly decisive. The question I ask myself when I look at an image is this: does it have a story or not? That’s it in Photo Mechanic.
- So, with fingers poised on the keyboard, I use these three selection criteria: 1, 2, 3. 1 is a definite keeper while 2 is a definite no. I use 3s as maybe.
- The ‘maybe’ is my undoing, and this is where I waste time agonizing over well… maybe… major time waster. Make your selection. Move on.
- Sort and export. I sort and export images into a ‘selected’ folder. I will share my folder structure in the coming weeks. Any images I have not decisioned are moved into an ‘extra’ folder. The card is ejected and stored away. That’s it!.
Of all the features and functionalities this great app is capable of, I only use cull and export. Free to try, $150 to purchase
- Adobe Lightroom, now part of the Adobe Creative Cloud, is where my images are edited. It is a non-destructive app, meaning you can edit an image to your hearts content but the original file remains untouched.
- To be clear, I only edit small job, major jobs are sent out for post processing and I receive what is called a catalog in return. The catalog holds all the edits or changes made to the original file. The catalog is imported into Adobe Lightroom directly into the ‘selected’ folder I talked about earlier.
- Launch the catalog and you’re notified that the file is missing and needs to be located. Browse to the ‘selected’ folder, click the correct image number and Lightroom will automatically copy the metadata from the edited file onto the original file, and does the same for all files in the folder. From here, I apply my set of preferred ‘Presets’ to achieve my desired look.
Of all the features of Lightroom, I love, love, love the preview feature which incidentally is another time-wasting trap. I waste time wanting to ‘see’ what an image will look like using this or that preset. Multiply 2-3 minutes by oh, say 50 images? You get the point.
3. Adobe Photoshop is another part of the creative cloud suite. To say this app is a beast would not be an exaggeration. It’s easy to learn but a lifetime to master, and I doubt if that’s even possibly because they keep coming up with new and efficient features. This is my go to app for a handful of images I need to take to the next level.
- Images are exported from Lightroom or opened directly from a folder into Photoshop for further manipulation. Like Lightroom presets, Photoshop uses ‘Actions’ for image manipulations. And I’m sure you guessed it here, I thumb through several actions before I pinch myself.
- It is also used for album design, although InDesign, another member of the Adobe creative suite is better suited for album design.
The two features I love the most about Photoshop is its use of layers and workspace. Layers you probably know are efficient when neatly grouped into a folder but nearly impossible to ungroup once flattened. For this reason, I export my finished job in whatever file type I need but try never to flatten a layer. Once flattened, the original file is destroyed.
Now a subscription service, it is still free to try with multiple membership levels. Photography is $9.99 for Lightroom and Photoshop.
My goal was not to review any of these apps, extensive books have been written on each one, lectures and workshops have been and continue to be delivered daily. If you wish to learn more, I recommend Creative Live, a 24/7 online teaching site. My goal is to share the apps I use and the features used in my personal workflow.
What application have you found useful in our workflow? Its your turn to share. If you've enjoyed this series, please consider sharing with your friends, and remember to leave a comment. Next week, I'll share my folder structure.