How I manage my photos
From backing them up to editing and sharing them
A few years ago, it seemed like we’d be able to store all our digital life in one huge hard drive (maybe two for redundancy). But since then, a few things have happened: hard drives have become much faster… but also smaller; cameras have gotten much better… thus they produce much bigger files; the rising of the cloud.
Shooting and backing up
So… with bigger files and smaller hard drives, how are you supposed to deal with the much higher resolution files from your camera? The following is what I do, and this is only for photography, not for video. I should mention I shoot RAW+JPG.
I back my photos up as soon as possible
I just don’t trust memory cards, neither do I trust myself about not losing them or the camera. So what I do after a day out shooting photos is to transfer the JPGs from my A7II to my phone via WiFi using the PlayMemories app. It’s not the fastest thing in the world and it drains your batteries, but this way you can have two copies of your photos, in the field, almost right away.
The cloud takes over, for the first (but not last) time
Having my photos in my phone has another big advantage. I use Google Photos, what means they will get backed up to the cloud as soon as I’m connected to WiFi (I could also use cellular for this, but I don’t have an unlimited plan).
The best thing about this is, I don’t have to do anything. No matter what I do afterwards, go home or any place with WiFi, every single photo will be uploaded and available on all my devices! Technology is awesome, isn’t it?
But this is just about the JPGs. What happens to the RAW files? Well, it depends. They’ll eventually end up being backed up to the cloud as well (Google Drive), but my first step is always to copy them either to my computer or my iPad. In both cases, the destination is always Lightroom.
Lightroom has its own cloud service and whatever you upload using one device will be available on any other device running Lightroom. With a catch though: it will be a lower resolution of the original, but fair enough for editing.
This is the second, and last time, the cloud is involved.
Editing, sharing and storing
At this point, I already have a copy of all my JPGs in Google Photos and a copy of the RAW files in Lightroom. It’s time to go through all the photos, process them, share them and store them!
First thing you should ask yourself is: what do you want to do with your photos? I do a few things: I post them to Instagram, I share a “curated collection” in a post here, I send a few of them to friends and family, and I print the ones I really like (more about this in a future post).
I won’t talk about the editing process here (again, I’ll do another post about this), but I usually edit them on my iPad. I have several collections in Lightroom to make this “workflow” easier.
I import my photos, as you’ve probably guessed, to the first collection called “IG0 — Import”. There is where I go through them and flag them with “keep” or “reject”. I usually reject most of the photos here. Remember: I have a copy of all of these in my Google Photos account and this is just about the RAW files for photos I really like.
The second step is the “IG1 — Preselected” folder. Here is where I usually choose a composition I like from several similar shots.
As you can see above, I have 9 shots of the same composition of the mirror , Mt Hood and the Sun. Those 9 came from around 50 different shots of the same thing. The final shot will come from those 9.
Once a photo “makes it” out of this second folder, it will go through the next three: edit, ready, and posted.
From “IG4 — Ready” I’ll grab my photos to share with people, Instagram and here. I’ll only take them out of there and move them to “IG6 — Posted” once I’ve posted them to Instagram. That way I always have a pool of photos to post.
“IG7 — Second chance” is for photos I liked at first but I don’t like anymore, but I still want to give them a second chance. I might like them again in the future.
“IG8 — Repost” is for photos I might repost in the future because I really liked them.
“IGX — Presets” is just a collection of photos with some of my presets applied so I can copy and paste those adjustment on new photos using my iPad and/or phone, since Lightroom doesn’t support preset synchronization yet.
- I back my photos up as soon as possible
- Google Photos has all my media
- I have a copy of my RAW files in Google Drive
- I only keep a few RAW files offline, of the photos I really like