This post is sponsored by the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography plan. We started using Adobe Photoshop in high school (1996!) and have learned with Adobe through our college education at Savannah College of Art and Design. For the last decade we’ve been using Adobe in our professional careers. To say the least, we’re excited to collaborate with them and hope you enjoy the 5 Step Workflow we’ve put together.
Setting up and completing a photography assignment can be a lot of work, but having a great workflow cuts out a lot of the hassle and questions. We’ll walk you through our process to get the job done. Feel free to adopt any part that works for you.
We use this workflow for every shoot we work on. It doesn’t matter how big or how small. If it’s just the two of us shooting for our blog, or if it’s a large production with 20 people on set, we still use the same process.
As your photography career grows you’ll find that along with being creative, you also need to be organized. This may not be our strong suit as artists, but following a good workflow will get you halfway there.
A big part of our workflow is our client experience. Some of our shoots are for advertising which can be very detail oriented! We want to make sure our clients see what’s happening in real time. We discuss any issues/needs/changes on set, rather than after-the-fact.
Even if you are not in the position of working with clients yet, we feel this aspect of the workflow is such an important part of being a professional photographer. Maybe you’re a food blogger photographing your own cookbook and you might have your editor on set that needs to see images as they are being shot. When you do get that first client assignment, you’ll have all the tools and know-how to work in a professional atmosphere and come off looking like a rockstar!
We always say “the best camera, is the one with you” and that works for when you are out and about. When you have time to plan for a shoot, make sure you have the right tools for the job. We have a standard kit we usually bring with us:
The Camera Case:
Lighting and Grip:
Once we’re on set, this is where our ‘setup’ workflow really starts to kick in. We have a series of steps that we do to get everything up and running. These steps work if you are shooting food to fashion – the process can be applied to various types of shoots.
1. Setup the computer and attach the monitor
2. Setup your client/job folder and startup your capture program (i.e. Adobe Lightroom) with which you are going to shoot tethered.
3. Setup your camera and make sure it is communicating with the computer
This is a really important step in the process. You don’t want to be ready to go with a hot plate of food on set and not have the camera working. I know you have all heard before about shooting tethered, but I can’t stress enough how important this is when photographing food. Tethering is when you connect your camera to your computer via a cord, so every time you capture an image it is displayed and saved onto your computer. Tether Tools is a great place to find the cord you need. By shooting tethered, you have the ability to see every one of those syrup drips from pancakes, or magnificent splashes from drink pours as each capture comes through. And probably even more important, to see if you are actually in focus, you can’t necessarily see that from the screen on the back of the camera. The reason for the extra monitor, is not only to see the images nice and large while shooting, but it is more color-accurate than the laptop screen.
4. Open Adobe Photoshop, incase you have to mock up comps (images roughly put together for layout purposes) on set. We often have complex shoots that need to have a few images put together to mock up a comp, so we can see what the final image may look like. Whether it is just seeing how something looks in layout, or combining a few images for the final result, Adobe Photoshop is key for quickly putting this together.
5. Next we will get our backgrounds setup and the lighting in place for our first shot. We use “stand in” plates/bowls and food to get the camera angle and lights into the right position before the real food comes out. By using a plate around the same size of the plate that the final food will be on, will allow us to get the composition right without sacrificing the real food.
Editing while we go is a key part of our workflow while shooting. Each new capture from the camera will be named correctly so it matches up with our shot list, so there is no confusion. We also will adjust the images as they come into the capture program by adding cropping, curves, clarity and even applying masks to selected areas so we adjust them independently. Best of all, we tag client selects as we go. Everyone at the shoot knows what the deliverables are.
Once the final selects from the shoot have been made, we can start retouching. Adobe is standard for retouching images and such a great tool. Here is our basic step-by-step workflow with any image we work on.
Now that we have all of our retouched files saved we catalog them and get them ready for delivery. This is where we really think Adobe Lightroom shines. Lightroom is such a powerful catalog tool, we couldn’t live without it. We are able to manage our archive of jobs and access them quickly. We can also quickly touch up images, re-crop images for other uses, sync images with our photography agent through Dropbox and export images in a variety of custom saved formats.
We know this may seem like a lot to do, but as you progress it will all become like second nature. By following this workflow, or adapting it to your own, you will be on the road to success. It’s all about repetition and using the right tools for your job.
Yup, definitely bookmarking this post to refer to forever and ever. thanks for dropping such amazing knowledge!
Just for clarity, you tether directly into Photoshop and use Lightroom primarily as a cataloging tool, not an ingest or editing tool?
You tether into Lightroom to shoot and retouch in Photoshop. Lightroom also acts as an amazing catalog after the images are retouched. Lightroom has many abilities but Photoshop has more intensive retouching tools. Thanks for reading the blog!
Very cool post. I need to learn the tethering into Lightroom bit. Love the idea of getting so much done and approved at the shoot.
It’s really handy! And you can make the adjustments right there too!