8 Keys to a Killer Photo Editing Workflow that Works for Me

*UPDATE* – To better showcase my photo editing workflow I’ve created a weekly “Let’s Edit” series here on the site. Find out all the info on this series here!

It’s one thing to get out and take photos, it’s another thing entirely to keep them all organized, trust me I have folders filled with photos that I don’t remember ever taking! So this week I’d like to talk to you about the photo editing workflow that I use to keep new photos appearing before you almost every day of the year.

Photo Editing Workflow Tips

I’ll start off simply saying – this ain’t easy folks! To be honest I’m not even convinced that workflow is a teachable aspect of photography. Sure I can point you to what works for me, but these things might not work for you, and if that’s the case then that’s the case. We’re all different, shooting different things, using different software, with different goals in mind, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take pieces of this away and tweak your own workflow a bit. After all that’s how I taught myself how to do things!

8 Keys to a Killer Photo Editing Workflow that Works for Me

  • Importing Photos – Of course the first step would be to take the photos and import them into a cataloging software – I use Lightroom, but there are many others out there, which one do you use?
  • Weed out the Weak Links – Next up is to quickly go through the import and reject all those photographs which I instantly can tell I’ll never do anything with – Usually this is limited to the completely out of focus or badly exposed photographs, however, sometimes I’ll even reject badly composed shots in this step.
  • Rate Photos by Quality – This helps me determine which photographs to edit first. I rate them on a 3 to 5 star scale and leave photographs that I need to “think about” as unrated and I’ll come back and look at those more closely later.
  • Select Photos to Edit – Browse photos to edit and select based on mood. Every day is different and there’s no way to describe how I go about choosing what to edit when, it’s all about feel.
  • Edit the Selected Photos – Depending on my mood, the type of shot, or the phase of the moon this step can take minutes or hours. It can require multiple pieces of software or one tweak here and there. It’s certainly the most unpredictable part of my workflow – and for good reason – it’s the most creative part!
  • Save image as JPEG (Yes I use JPEGs, no I don’t want to hear why TIFFs are better).
  • Add to Portfolio on iPhoto – Mainly because it syncs wirelessly with my iPad and iPhone so I can share things easily from time to time from those devices.
  • Time to Publish a Post! – Look through process photos and pick one based on how I feel, upload it to WordPress, write a bit about it, preview the post, and publish to Phogropathy.

Of course, as with everything this is an organic process, something that grows over time. The more photographs I process the more I learn about how to edit and how to move through my workflow.

To go a little further I wanted to showcase the steps I took from import to final processed photograph for the shot you saw earlier today. You did see Today’s Daily Photo Right? It was one of the four versions featured in this video below – which one do you like best?

The process seen in this video took about 30 minutes in real time (I was moving pretty fast because I knew I was recording it), but I’ve still done you a favor and compressed it to 2 minutes and put it to music. Enjoy!


If you have questions, comments, or want to know more about my photo editing workflow leave a comment below – I WILL respond!