My Digital Photography Workflow

I purchased my first digital camera a few months ago. Previously I only used my smartphone for photos which naturally restricted the amount of photos I took. I take many more pictures now that my camera allows me to take pictures of pretty much anything. I’m also a person who likes to keep their digital life organized and one who likes to see how others approach this problem. Most of pictures are for public consumption. They’re landscapes, cityscapes, and other things where there are no (known) privacy concerns; thus they should be easily shareable. However there are a few cases (such as a family Christmas party) where it’s nice to have fine grained privacy controls. Sharing the photos is the most important thing and the easiest way to do that is through the internet. I’m fully capable to writing some software to distribute and share photos online but frankly I don’t have any interest or time in that problem at scale. There are many products that solve this problem. However I do maintain a personal photo album for my favorite shots with a bit of code at minimal scale.

I had few ideas on how I thought this whole process should work. My recent trips to California and to Mumbai provided the perfect proving ground. The workflow uses Flickr as the primary sharing tool. I also just started using Instagram to share various pictures of my trips. So here’s how it all goes down.

  1. Import photos from memory card into Photos
  2. Select best shots by marking as favorite
  3. Export all favorites to folder on separate hard disk. My directory structure looks like: “/photos/$YEAR/$YEAR-$MONTH-$DAY-name_of_album”. Images get dumped there.
  4. Share all favorites to appropriate Flickr album. Fine tune sharing permissions in Flickr (great for public/friends/family).
  5. Run the archival script (< 10 lines of Bash) on memory card. This copies images into a directory “/archive/$YEAR-$MONTH-$DAY”. The script reads the EXIF “Date and Time (Original)” tag. I keep this script on memory card itself.
  6. Delete files from memory card & photos. This is not required, but it can be done here given everything has been copied to separate hard drive and to cloud storage (Flickr).
  7. Use Flickr app on smartphone to add any photos
  8. Use Flickr app on smartphone to post on Instagram. This works out well because the best photos are from my digital camera. Given they’ve been uploaded to Flickr, they’ll be available on my phone for sharing to Instagram.
  9. Select my absolute favorites for the In Search of Sunset album. Commit, build, and deploy.

Overall I’m quite happy with this workflow. Photos works perfectly for what I need: image previewing and filtering. It’s easy to scan through a ton of images and select the top 10%. The built in Flickr sharing works nicely as well. Unfortunately you cannot create a new Flickr album when sharing, so it must do this before. I originally attempted to use Preview to see what images I wanted to keep. I stopped because there was no good way to mark and filter inside the application (e.g. I’d need to maintain an active selection with a series of command-clicks everywhere).

Dealing with smartphone photos is the most annoying part. I use OSX and an Android phone. Photos will only pick up the smartphone if the USB connection is set to mass storage. This requires camera writes everything to the SD card (which I normally don’t do as I use my SD card entirely for music). This is also an annoyance because the Android File Transfer application requires the phone to be MTP (Media Transfer Protocol) to access the internal storage and SD card at the same time. This is an utter annoyance because one mode cannot satisfy all my use cases. Luckily for me I haven’t been taking photos I want to keep around using my smartphone.

I shared my workflow because I thought it may be helpful to see how others approach this problem. It works nicely and parts of it are easily to automate and it does not rely too heavily on custom software (Photos use to a minimum & sharing to flickr easily done online or through their uploader). Also everything eventually ends up on my file system. This makes easy to integrate with any backup software (or to mirror the hard drive to cold storage as I do). Happy shooting everyone!

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