My Workflow

This is post is a special request from HelloBenTeoh. As a fellow outdoor photographer he asked me to write a post describing my workflow. I told him my work flow was very simple and this would be a short post.

In fact my work flow is embarrassingly simple.

I am a fairly straight forward photographer; I enjoy the challenge of capturing my subject with just my camera and my wits. I don’t carry a tripod, flash, lights or even a reflector with me. Yet I get the images I want with the least amount of fuss, so I call that a win win.

My success is dependent on location and light. When I am out on a photography adventure I am looking for good light and an interesting surface to photograph. My mini-figure friends are merely the foreground to the color field I aim to capture.

Every location is its own challenge and puzzle. I tend to take a few minutes to get my bearings and see what I can see in terms of light, texture and potential vistas that will all blend into a beautiful color field.

Sometimes I have no idea what a situation will look like until I have seen it through my lens. The following picture is a great example of this. The first image is a photo taken by my friend Kitty of me in action and the second image is what I saw through the camera lens.

What Kitty saw. What I saw.

Yup thats me in what I like to call the LEGO yoga position. Personally I feel that if taking the photo doesn’t hurt, at least a little, then I haven’t gone far enough. I think my slightly masochistic and stoic nature lends itself well to this type of photography.

Once I have my images I use a SD card readerr to transfer my images to my iPad. I have a beefed up iPad that can handle RAW photo files and it makes for a great editing device. My “go to” app for editing is SnapSeed. I have been using it for years and really enjoy its power and ease of use. I can do basic edits like brightness, ambience, contrast, saturation, etc. for a quick first round of edits. I can then move to selective adjust to correct a particular area. In this image I desaturated the yetis while adjusting the contrast and brightness. I can also use the spot repair tool to fix small blemishes. I can add a vignette for a simple effect or get fancy and use Glamour Glow, Drama, HDR Scape or Vintage. It even has nice B & W and Noir presets.  For the purposes of Instagram I can get any image about 90% edited using this method. I have always treated Instagram as my sketch book; it’s a place for me to play without the pressure of exhibitions or publication.

Before and after SnapSeed

The biggest up side to editing on an iPad is that it makes posting to social media sites like Instagram, G+, TwitterFlickr, Facebook or my web site a snap.

Like any good photographer I also upload all my RAW photos to Aperture (my current storage / organization method) and I edit a select few in Photoshop. I don’t edit all my images with PS, only the ones I am interested in printing and eventually exhibiting . When I edit an image for printing I use both the SnapSeed plug-in as well as Replichrome film presets in conjunction with Photoshop to help me achieve the same effects I get editing on a phone.

Yes I do see the irony of editing RAW images taken with a fancy full frame DSLR camera to look like a simple IPhone photo. Yet that is the age of photography we live in. Images that are super saturated and contrasty, images that look like they are taken with a toy camera or in some way emulate a classic film base are what is expected in color photography.

Other apps I enjoy editing images with are Color Splash, Lens Flare, Lens Light, Noir and Tangled FX. These all make an appearance in my Instagram feed at some point; usually when I’m bored or I am trying to salvage a particularly difficult image.

I am well aware that my set-up is very simple, yet it suits my penchant for shooting a lot of images and allows me to process them quickly. I enjoy posting an image a day (even though I am not participating in a specific 365 challenge); and having a quick and seamless editing process helps to make this possible.

Yes I am a little embarrassed about how simple my work flow is; sometimes I even wonder if I should use the word photographer when describing myself.  Yet, I like my images, I like my process and I doubt I will be changing anything soon to impress my fellow photographers.

If you have any questions that are not answered here, feel free to ask.  I am always open to sharing my process, even this deceptively simple one.

~ xxSJC

What is your workflow? Would you care to share any tips and tricks that make your life easier?IMG_3113-1



  1. Balakov

    Nothing wrong with that workflow, it doesn’t sound too different from mine in terms of what you edit.

    Software and hardware is different (my ageing iPad wouldn’t not be a happy bunny if I sent it a RAW file), but I mostly end up sending one or two images from a shoot straight from Lightroom to Photoshop for dust removal and film simulation, then they’re off to the Internet!

  2. Ben Teoh

    Thanks for the post! This is great. My workflow’s fairly similar but my camera (Sony A6000) does wifi transfer to my iPhone (only the JPG) and then I’m using either Lightroom, Photoshop or Snapseed (or a mix of all three) to make edits before it hits Instagram.

    I import all my photos in RAW to Lightroom on my desktop but to be honest, I rarely have a chance to go back to them.

    I’d like to look at a new iPad too as my iPhone 5’s screen is a touch small. I have an iPad mini but it’s slow and clunky.

    Thanks again for the write up!

    • I’m glad you liked the post Ben. I tried the WiFi thing for a bit, but I don’t want to edit jpegs. Technically I can output full sized edited files from my iPad and print them directly. I like to keep my options open. Nothing beats photo shop for cleaning up dust and fine tuning though. Look at a new iPad, so awesome to edit on! Thanks for the suggestion on the post!!

  3. Regarding to the workflow, how you organized all the photos?

    You put it in a folder as “Lego” or put it in a folder based on what’s the minifigure you use or some people make a lot of folder with the title (dates when the photos taken) and..others =)

    • I have a separate library for my Lego photos. I keep them separate from my personal and underwater work. I have folders for projects and use tags for subject. It’s not perfect and I’m hopelessly behind in organization, but that’s the general idea.

  4. Very interesting stuff. My workflow is somewhat similar in that I wish to have my finished picture pretty much as seen in the view-finder. However, there are a few points:

    – Because I have adopted a corner my loft as my studio, I still find that I battle lighting from picture to picture. I ought to sort out a proper light-box, as I’m currently using LED spot bulbs into an open top/front light-box. However, I go through stages of backgrounds and am getting a bit bored of the white back-drop. I really ought to take more outside shots; the lighting is far superior.

    – I have never taken any shots in RAW, but fine JPEG. Does this really make a difference to a IG shot? I would argue not, but then I don’t run my pictures through any great amount of processing, other than cropping. I don’t like making any great changes to contrast or saturation as I don’t like the ‘false’ feel that can result (or is that just lack of effort?). I probably end up taking several pictures of the same subject at different camera settings instead.

    My specific workflow is very simple. Take pictures, insert camera’s SD card into PC, transfer pictures to my Dropbox account, save pictures to iPad via Dropbox app, Snapseed to crop (and make any absolutely necessary adjustments), iWatermark and Halftone 2 to add banners and speech.

    It’s hard enough finding time to take photos at the moment – leading to a current lean period – thus, it would be harder to find time to improve the photograph by using the likes of Paint Shop Pro (my choice of picture processing software).

    My best wishes.

    • Colin,

      It sounds like you have a sweet spot of economy with your work flow. Yes it sounds like we are very similar in our approach regarding in area results rather than relying on post processing. I can see both the benefits and down side to your studio set up. Just as Balakov…having it set-up and ready to go is a great way to get a few ideas shot in between juggling work and life responsibilities.

      I absolutely think there is no reason to shoot RAW if your only outlet is IG. But for me I was burned a few years ago by not shooting RAW when I wanted to enlarge my prints above a 16″ x 20″ (A2). Since then I have always shot RAW. Not only do you have more information per pixel but you can make you own adjustments, rather than relying on your cameras internal programming.

      I am so glad you use IWatermark. I don’t think I mentioned that program and I love it. The latest upgrade was pretty sweet!.

      Thank you so much for sharing your work flow and joining the discussion. In this age of amazing electronic devices, powerful editing apps and dropbox so much can be done so quickly. The age of dark rooms and developers seems like a distant memory.


    • Hi Brodie!

      It is an amazing time to be a photographer. The tools available to us are incredible. The fact that a little phone app called SnapSeed can rival (although not replace completely) PS is impressive. In a world where speed is often critical (maybe not so much in our world) having powerful tools at your disposal are crucial.

      Thanks so much for chiming in on the discussion!

  5. Leila (Brickandmordor)

    Nice workflow! I just need to start making my “work” actually “flow”… What ends up happening is I transfer all my RAW images to my laptop after a toy safari but then never find the time to go back and edit them! ha! So I rely on posting the mediocre shots I took on the iphone in the meantime. Not enough hours in the day…

    • Leila, the answer is clearly that we need a day that is longer than 24 hours! I hope you get a chance to edit and see your images that were taken on a full size camera someday. I would be interested to know if you will feel different about them. Let me know if you find a few spare hours… xo

  6. One question indeed: Is the limitation of file sizes of a pic been taken off of Snapseed? Haven’t used it in a year and I remember there was a problem with editing large files. My current phone creates pics of around 10MB and back then asnapseed couldn’t handle them. Or was it due to my iPhone 4S?
    Don’t think the simplicity of your workflow is should be embarrassing. It’s lean and the results are great. Sounds good to me 😉

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