Bethisms » Musings and Life in Charlottesville, VA from a Wife, Mother, Photographer, Blogger & Jesus Lover

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Personal Photography Documentation and Processing | beth daane

I have to admit, although it probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise to my close family and friends, that I am not always super speedy with processing personal portraits.  This is something I vowed to change last year- personally within my own family as well as with friends and family when we are out and about and I casually snap portraits of loved ones.

I took a look at all the backwork  awesome photographs that I have from over the many many years and all the portraits that I DON’T have hanging on my walls that I want to be, and I realized that I can’t just jump into it all and tackle this huge, huge mound that lay in front of me.  I needed a plan, I had to be patient and organized with this mountain that I was about to embarque upon.  Lucky for me, since I photograph as a profession, my images are impeccably organized.  If I ever let that piece of life slip- I don’t know if there would be any recovery!  Luckily though, with my Type A personality, I have some pretty rigid rules for uploading, downloading, backing up, etc…  so organization isn’t a problem.  What IS a problem is the fact that I have SO MANY great moments in life that I haven’t taken the precious moments to put the final touches on and share on the great world wide web or print out to hang on my own walls.  So, this is what I am doing… yes, it’s an “I’m doing” because this is probably going to take quite a while to catch up from everything in the past and will forever be the process for future life.

Since I have all my images already organized… get ready… this is BIG!  All I do is take one folder at a time and start working on editing that folder.  It’s really that easy my friends.  Take it one simple single little step at a time and start plugging away.  To look at the entire mountain is way too daunting, but to take it one tiny step at a time… ah, nothin’ to it! This is my workflow with my older files that haven’t been regulated processed through yet.  It is a little different from how I handle things professionally because there are different systems and processes with my clients that we go through, but this is my PERSONAL workflow with past files that I am catching up on.

1.  Open folder of all images in Photo Mechanic.  They are already sorted by date and in RAW format.  The length of time that I take to process through a single folder can vary depending on what is in the file.  Perhaps I just took a few photos of my sweet little darlin’s or maybe it was a big family event that requires a bit more time.  Some days I can go through 5 folders and other times it takes a week for one single folder.  I also am working on these in my spare time and that also varies depending on what’s happening in life.

2.  Since these are personal photo’s the way I view them might tend to be different than how I analyze a client session.  Usually they are pretty similar, but I also like to take images that could be a little less than perfect when I print them all out into 4×6’s for my family photo albums.  My kids LOVE looking through photo albums and we don’t have nearly enough. (Thus why I am diligently working on this project!)  Sometimes… another get ready moment… sometimes there has been a moment where I have a picture that would have been such a cool family moment, but it’s blurry.  (EEEEK!)  Well, when it comes to our candid family moments, I’m going to print that baby out anyways if I don’t have another image just like it.. but in crisp clear perfection.  They truth is, if I am at my Grandmother’s most fabulous Birthday party, and I take a shot of a totally impromptu hug from a Grandchild and I was able to catch the moment, but in a slightly blurred fashion- I still want to remember the way that Grandma embrasses her Grandchildren.  It reminds me of her hugging ME!  I can look past the fact that there is some blur in there- I caught a moment that will forever remind me of the warmth and softness of my sweet Grandma.

3.  I go through all images and I star the ones that are keepers.  By “keepers” I mean the ones that I will be printing out or going up onto some form of digital media.  All others will be archived and tucked away, possibly not to be looked at again, but in safe keeping.  A 1 STAR mans it’s staying and will be printed in a 4×6 format.  I also will star with some with a higher rating if they are going to be printed in larger formats or made into canvas’s or turned into a Professional Photo Book.    Sometimes there aren’t any that fall into that category and sometimes there are!

4. I import into Lightroom and process.  I also edit anything that needs to be done in Photoshop after the Lightroom processing is done.

5.  I export everything into a folder that states the date and topic at hand.  (Example:  2012-06-07 Daddy’s Birthday Dinner)  I get pretty specific about the name because I want to know EXACTLY what’s in the file folder before I open it up.  There may be more folders with the same date because if we also went out on a hike, that will have a separate folder.

6.  I now order my images!  I order my personal family pictures from Millers, my professional lab that I use for all my clients.  There are times though, when I will test out local places with one or two 4×6’s or 5×7’s to see how their printing comes out.  I have had good luck and bad, so I like to just stay with my lab that I trust and know that they are holding their standards and calibrating and re-calibrating their machines and processing.  There is a great consumer lab run by Millers that I suggest to all my friends and family called MPIX.  They are a consumer lab that holds all the same quality for my professional lab within their company, the difference is that anyone is able to order from them whereas Millers requires that you are a professional business.

7.  I also order images for friends and family at the same time that I order my own.  I am getting better about this than I was, but I like to order 4×6’s to just drop in an envelope to let my loved ones know that I am thinking of them and I miss them.  Since I have friends and family scattered all over the world, my heart is also all over the world!  My 4×6’s go into a simple little photo album or they sit out for the kids to carry around with them.  I also love using 4×6’s for bookmarks.  I love letting my kids hold and touch photographs.  They get wrinkled and damaged, sometimes torn, but they hold them!  How often do we hold photographs anymore?  I know there are too many times in my past that I haven’t printed something that meant the world to me.  It doesn’t do a whole lotta good just sitting on my computer.

So, it’s definitely possible that I skipped something and in all honesty, I didn’t intend to actually write this all out, but the more I thought about the process of what it takes to document our memories and my own inner demons, the more I wrote.  The mountain will slowly subside, it already is and feels fantastic!

As I was going through a new folder last night, I started processing some images from Mother’s Day, 2011.  (I was going to make a joke about bowing my head in shame, but honestly- I’m just pretty proud that I am getting to them and that they are being touched and looked at, so I don’t mind that it was so long ago… the process is coming along beautifully!)  We were already on our Great Daane Adventure at that point and we were in Wisconsin with Sam’s family out at an Aunt’s home in the country.  Aren’t these children beautiful?!  I’m not done with the folder yet, so more will be coming, but I did want to share the latest memories from the archives.

As I close, I wonder what YOU do with your old photographs?  Do you have tons of old boxes with negatives and portrait prints?  Do you have a million images on your hard drive just sitting there waiting?  Do you print out your digital images?  Tell me what you do and if you have a great step-by-step process in making sure you keep your memories in the forefront!


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