Damned DAM - Going for the Flow

I’m somewhat cured of GAS. Oh I do enjoy a little gearporn session once in a while but, as money goes, I have to refrain a bit on the acquisition part of the acronym. « You can look… but you cannot touch ». That’s my motto for the time being. Although I would probably fall for a 24 mpx X-Pro 2 or X-T2.

One thing is always itching me though; workflow.

I’m pretty sure that I’m not as efficient as I could be. I always wonder if I’m making the best choices for image quality, assets management and security of my data. I’ve looked at a number of articles depicting one’s process of managing images, and versions, but somehow I stay unsure if what I’m doing is the right thing.

So I’ve tried a couple of things in the past one and a half year, from simply organizing my files manually in the finder and processing them in CameraRAW/Photoshop or Pixelmator, to using a full blown DAM and RAW converter like Lightroom, Aperture or Capture one… and yes, everything in between, DAM or RAW converter; Photo Ninja, Iridient Developper, SilkyPix, Photo Mechanics, Perfect Photo Suite, On one, and others I don’t even care to remember… the latest being Mac Affinity Pro and Supreme Photo.

I had not looked at another piece of software than Aperture as long as I shot Nikon. But you know what, I committed to Fuji and everything changed. X-Trans files are special you know. Everyone has an opinion on the rendering of X-Trans files and I got caught in the debate. So I wanted better images AND better worflow.

But, believe it or not, I’m longing for the leanest process possible. If I could use just one application that would be perfect! It is supposed to be quite simple after all; import, manage, cull, develop, output, upload, archive, retrieve. That’s it! Simple. Linear. Like in Lightroom linear.

Sickening… don’t you think? Doctor, am I normal? Ain’t I the worst case you had?


The thing is that, by trying all those apps and constantly changing my worflow (including file naming conventions, output formats, metadata presets, keywording, etc.), I finally got results... RESULTS!

  1. Got everything messed up

  2. Spent a lot of time managing files, creating presets while not shooting

  3. Ruin my eyes comparing images on the computer screen

  4. Lost confidence in my abilities to render images the way I want

  5. Lost all pleasure I had in doing post related things

I somehow stopped being an artist and became an application tester. BETA… throw it this way!

That’s when it hit me. « Build it and they will come »


DAM Flow olney photographe sherbrooke

It’s not that I’m waiting for baseball legends of the past but, what this quote means to me is « COMMIT and they will come back », meaning the pleasure, the confidence, the awareness, the abilities… more of the FLOW and less of the WORK.

Just like I committed fully to the Fujifilm system and look, I needed to commit to a certain set of tools that I feel comfortable with, that gets good results and that, most of all, allows me to express myself, tools I can use to make my images look the way they should, the way I saw them or imagine them at the moment I pressed the shutter.

So I did. Got rid of every application except Lightroom and Capture One, and I got back to the very simple workflow I had established years before. I even got rid of my once beloved Nik Efex Pro and ditched every presets I had ever downloaded. Down the drain. Everything except the VSCO sets, that I kept just in case or for comparison purposes, as I use my own presets 95% of the time, on RAF files as well as on the superb Fuji JPEGs. And you know what? I feel lighter, clean, honest. By committing to those tools I committed to myself; to the artist and to my peace of mind.

So, here it goes. Simply put:

  1. I shoot RAW+Large JPEG

  2. Import the files in Lightroom (in folders by date and custom name, with generic keywords and copyright info)

  3. Culling using the picked, unpicked and rejected flags (I do this on the JPEG files as they give a better idea of what the photo could look like)

  4. Throw away the obviously scrapped files, RAF and JPEG (yes I do that)

  5. Add relevant keywords to every file that are left, even the unpicked. That little interval soothes my eyes for the next part

  6. Filter the picked files

  7. Assign a star rating to picked files that will only serve as a priority reminder. The more stars the more I want to develop the file

  8. Backup every file on a external HD

  9. Develop files on a virtual copie

  10. Export a MASTER file that I will never tweek again in a MASTERS subfolder, add an « M » to the file name and assign the yellow label

  11. Export a 1200px on the longest side file for WEB publishing in a WEB subfolder, rename accordingly and assign the blue label

  12. Go back and assign the red label to the original file I just develop. This means « as been edited »

  13. When, and only when I decide to print a file I will export with specifics settings in a PRINTS folder, add a « P » to the file name and assign the green label.

I publish to Flickr and 500px using the Lightroom plugins. I use Collections to gather only four types of files : Polychromes, Monochromes, Photos published in my blog posts, Photos delivered to clients.

Lightroom backs up the catalog every day. Time Machine backs up the whole system once a week and Smart Backups backs up everything that is Lightroom related and all my photos and file structure once a week on another HD.

Simple, no?

Texte et photos © 2015 OLNEY