A digital photography workflow that actually works

I have a bad habit of starting out on a hobby and spending too much time trying to optimize it, but in the case of photography, there was a lot of overhead. I’d start by uploading the images from my camera, uploading other images from my phone (from the same event/trip/day), combining them in a collection, backing up the originals on a separate drive, selecting which photos were best, making edits, making low resolution copies, uploading the copies to the web, and then maybe (if I still had energy) telling someone about them.

Not only was this process incredibly tedious, but it drained my desire to pick up my camera. I found a new system:

  1. I signed up for iCloud’s 200gb plan for four dollars a month. All of my photos from my phone go there automatically.
  2. I signed up for Adobe’s photography package for 10 dollars a month which includes Lightroom, Lightroom Mobile, and Photoshop.
  3. I set Lightroom to store my catalog on iCloud and to import all of my photos there as well.
  4. When I’m done shooting, I upload my photos to Lightroom and sync them to mobile.
  5. When I’m in the mood to organize, I use my iPad to swipe up and down on each photo that’s been sync’d since my last session. The ones I flag down (rejected), I delete from iCloud completely (This was one of the most important steps, I know how scary it is to delete raw files — but it’s also incredibly freeing)
  6. When I have a bit more time, I edit the photos either on my iPad (if it’s something simple, like a hike with friends) or on my laptop (if it’s something that requires a bit more detail, like some of my astrophotography shots)
  7. I upload everything to social media through Lightroom.

I don’t worry about manual backups, I don’t worry about uploading my shots to ten different platforms, and I can switch between my phone or my camera without extra effort. It’s simple, cheap, and lets me stay focused.