The Photographer’s Workflow is a new e-Book from Bangkok based humanitarian photographer Gavin Gough. I had the opportunity to photograph alongside Gavin in Penang earlier this year, as part of workshop he ran with Matt Brandon.
One thing that really impressed me about Gavin (apart from his work for Getty and Lonely Planet) was his approach to processing and organising images. I’ve been fortunate to get inside the garage, so to speak, with a few well known photographers and check out the way they set up Lightroom and use it to process images. Most are very well organised, have a good understanding of the catalogue system and a solid (or at least repeatable) approach to processing images.
But, Gavin’s workflow is something else. I haven’t met another photographer whose method is as systematic and carefully thought out as Gavin’s. So, I was excited see him put these ideas into print.
Into A Jaded Marketplace
Now let’s be honest here. There are so many books, magazines and e-books out there offering tips and ideas on processing images and using Lightroom. To be frank, I’m kind of jaded by it all. I’ve stopped buying photography magazines and even given away a few of the books that were on my shelves. Some authors just seem to be recycling the same ideas from one publication to the next and a few do little more than reword the Lightroom manual or Adobe’s own excellent training books (like Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 Classroom in a Book (Classroom in a Book (Adobe))).
Thankfully, we are seeing some fresh voices emerging, with insightful perspectives. The Photographer’s Workflow is one of two recent e-Books, along with Piet Van den Eynde’s excellent Lightroom 4 Unmasked (which I will review soon), that have inspired me to dive back learning better ways to manage and work with my images.
The Comprehensiveness Factor
As I mentioned, Gavin’s approach is comprehensive. The Photographer’s Workflow shows this in three key areas. First, you are asked to think about the security of your images and the system you use to store and back them up. Backup is something that has kept me awake at night and is one of the things photographers commonly ask me about. This e-Book get you thinking about the whole process, from saving your images, to backing them up at each stage of developing process. And, in particular, there are some crafty ideas about using Smart Collections to streamline your workflow while getting systematic about the use of ratings, colours and keyword tagging.
Second, the e-Book gives you insights into the way Gavin packs for travel assignments and works in the field. I was especially impressed by his suggestions for how to carry backups of critical software, something I decided to implement for my future travels.
Finally, The Photographer’s Workflow has one of the most intriguing and eye-opening approaches to using presets that I have seen. While most photographers use presets to quickly create a look, Gavin uses them to create a linear approach to developing photos.
The first time I saw this I had a huge feeling of “wow, that’s amazing, but why would you want to do that?” Then, as Gavin explained it, I realised this workflow helps you think about developing images in the same way you use when shooting your photos. By tapping into the same increments and through processes, you can both speed up your developing and make it more consistent.
An A-Ha Moment
When I got into photography, it surprised me to see serious photographers who were so systematic with setting their exposure in camera, take a haphazard approach to settings in Lightroom, just riding sliders up and down until it “looked good.”
Coming from a background in music, this seemed really random, especially when compared to the way audio and mastering engineers approach settings in music. You learn to predict what a 2dB cut at 400Hz will sound like, or what happens to a echo when you increase it from 150 to 300 milliseconds. In fact, having a solid and dependable workflow relies on making these kinds of predictable and repeatable moves.
I heartily recommend The Photographer’s Workflow. Gavin has done a great job of pulling together a robust and eye-opening guide to working in the field as a photographer and managing your images right through the process from the camera to the final output.
Right now there is a hefty limited time discount on the book, if you use the code photowork20, after which it will sell for $30. Compared to the price of similar books in print, I feel like this is really good value, especially as the download package contains lots of supporting material, including all the presents discussed in the book! To find out more, check out this video, where Gavin goes through the material covered in The Photographer’s Workflow.