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I’ve been talking a lot about creative workflow recently—in my workshops and talks, and at my recent presentation at B&H Photo. While the word “workflow” is used quite often these days, I think it’s most useful when there’s a specific context and purpose that drives that workflow. In other words, following steps with a specific creative vision instead of the steps just leading you forward.

This is what I like to think of as the “why” instead of the “how.”

The biggest challenge I had when I first started shooting digitally was figuring out how to develop each image in a productive and efficient way. It seems like more often than not I was fumbling in the dark, waiting until something caught my eye on screen, and then seeing where that went visually. That approach however, presented some problems. How do I know when I’m done? What am I trying to accomplish with each image? How do I use the tools properly? Am I using all of the tools or am I missing out on some special magic technique, filter, or plugin, that will improve the image dramatically?

I’d spend hours obsessing over details, making small changes, trying to decide if the image was getting better or worse. Do you know the feeling? I’m willing to bet you do.

But slowly I began to realize what the problem was. I was failing to carry my original vision through the entire process or “workflow” of the image making. The reason I had pressed the shutter button had been lost once I sat down to interpret my capture. Once I began to approach the processing as simply a continuation of my field work, I became much clearer about workflow, and about why to make an adjustment versus how. And that’s how I developed my own “creative workflow” that I use on every image I make.

I’ll have a lot more to say about this in the future, including how to create your own workflow, but watch the video replay of my talk at B&H specific to Lightroom 5 for a continuation of these ideas.

Feedback, comments, or questions? I’d love to hear form you, so please let me know below.

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Robert,
    Great information. Your presentation: clear, concise, easy to follow, great connection and flow between verbiage and demos. The intro photos with before/after and then both images bring to life your opening philosophy on your vision.
    I learned many tips, technique, steps, procedure. Moreover the key and most important is insight into the vision of why are you pressing the shutter button and keeping that in the forefront as you process the image.
    This in a video I will watch repeatedly.
    Thank you for taking the time to present your visions and techniques.
    Jim Amato

    1. Hi Jim, Many thanks for the great feedback and very generous comments – I truly appreciate it. I can only share what I practice myself, so I’m glad it’s useful to you since so often I feel like I’m the minority in terms of what is emphasized in photography today. But I believe for the long term, the focus has to be on expression, creativity, and emotion – regardless of what stage you’re working in.


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