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|| News Item: Posted 2008-05-28

A Simple Digital Workflow That Works
By John Todd

Photo by John Todd

Photo by John Todd

USA's goalkeeper Kasey Keller recorded his 28th clean sheet for the National Team as U.S.A. defeated Costa Rica 3 - 0 in final round World Cup qualifying at Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, UT, on June 4, 2005.
Work flow. The most hated words in a photographer's vocabulary, except for maybe the grip and grin.

Shooting for our two main clients, the US Soccer Federation and the University of California Berkeley, we need to shoot both news value images, and long-term stock images.

My goal is to get my clients the best quality and most important images to them as fast as possible. To do so, I shoot RAW, I edit off my card, and I use as many canned captions as possible.

Sure, the RAW will slow you down at first, but when you are looking at processing 2000 plus stock images from a shoot, batch process in CS3 and you'll save 70% time over editing jpegs individually. Plus, your images will pop.

So here's my workflow when shooting for the USA National Soccer Teams, as well as the California Golden Bears.

Six 4 gig cards and one 8 gig give me enough room to shoot close to 2000 images per shoot in RAW on a Mark III and a Mark II.

During the shoot I'll chimp if I think I have the money shot and tag these images. Usually this is the jube shot, or the winning goal, etc.

After the shoot, I pop my cards in my Lexar Firewire card, and browse images off the card in photo mechanic. I tag the images I need, and copy the first edits to my hard drive. I'm looking for 10-20 images that tell the story of the match for news value. My key to speed here is not ingesting the images. I know this is controversial for the purest, but I have not lost and image yet.

After my initial edit, I go into Adobe RAW converter, and make my crops, toning etc. I have found it is quicker to edit the images in RAW rather than shooting jpeg and opening each image. I can do a SAVE AS, and finish my edits in 1-2 minutes.

From there, I go back to Photo Mechanic with a pre-made generic caption, enter in my id's with a brief description, and away I go to my download database,, or

Using the FTP function in Photo Mechanic makes things quick and easy so although I use Transmit for day-to-day transfers, it's easier to select and ftp in PM.

Photo by John Todd

Photo by John Todd
I then import the images into my database, created for us by, and my images are ready for download, or purchase by clients.

Usually the next day after the shoot, I download the entire take, back up to an external drive, and make a DVD set of the shoot. My second stock edits are made, captioned and uploaded to our database. The second edit is really the most important as we are looking for long term stock images that clients will need down the road. These we upload over the next few days, unless the client needs sooner. These images really consist of tight solo action shots, tight portraits, and any images that can be used for feature stories and player profiles.

I'd say the biggest change I have made in my workflow in the past two years is shooting RAW. It's a lot of data to burn and store, but it's like shooting negatives again, You have so much more control over the final image, and if you don't like it in a few years, just print it again.

My workflow goals for the future:
1) Invest in a Raid hot swappable system with an automatic massive online back up storage system, like the Amazon S3 storage, or similar.
2) Hire someone to do all this work for me!

(John Todd is a Bay Area based freelancer and owner of International Sports Images, Inc. His clients include the US Soccer Federation, University of California Berkeley, the Mavericks Big Wave Surf Contest, Sun Microsystems, and The San Francisco Diamond Walnut Emerald Bowl Football Game. He also teaches a Sports Photography Workshop in the Continuing Studies Program at Stanford University. You can see his member page here:

Related Links:
John's member page

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