This is a post that’s been requested from a few regular readers for a long time. Here I’ll set out exactly what happens after taking photos, whether that be after a city break, a family day out or a wedding. From file management to post-processing to publishing, this is my Fujifilm photography workflow.
It’s all well and good knowing exactly what camera equipment I use and what Fujifilm JPEG settings I use to create my own unique style but there’s a whole other side to photography; one that’s rarely spoken about as perhaps it’s a little boring. Boring it may be but what happens after you take a photo is just as important as the photo itself. Digital files need storing safely, photos sometimes need post-processing (we’ll get onto that) and most importantly, your entire collection of images, your memories, your life needs organising. I’m calling this (every single thing that happens after taking a photo) my Fujifilm photography workflow and I’m here to share it with you.
Whether you’re a Fujifilm user or not, a beginner to photography or a seasoned veteran, the principles set out in this article will still be helpful. For me, I’m always interested in learning how others manage their photography files, how they’re stored and what they do with them afterwards. Hopefully this article will help you create a new post-photo system or, if not, perhaps it’ll give you different ideas when it comes to your own photography workflow.
Before we start, whilst the post is titled my Fujifilm photography workflow, the principles I set out below are not in any way exclusive to those that have a Fujifilm camera but the beautiful JPEGs the X-T5 produces means I spend as little time editing as possible.
MY FUJIFILM PHOTOGRAPHY WORKFLOW
The Laptop & The Storage
As digital files get larger, the demand on your laptop and your storage gets greater and greater. For storage, I use two LaCie 2TB Rugged Mini hard-drives which are pretty much an identical copy of each other. Both are starting to fill up, so I’m definitely in the market for a few additions but I’d highly recommend having more than one hard-drive and ensuring you have a regular back up routine. I did drop one my hard-drives once and, despite being advertised as ‘Rugged’, I just couldn’t access the files anymore. Luckily, the customer service were brilliant and sent it away to the Netherlands for me and all was recovered. It was luckily all backed up but it could have been disastrous!
I bought a 27 inch 4k monitor recently and suddenly found that my laptop couldn’t handle editing photos on an external monitor so it was driving me crazy! I’ve gone all out now to ensure that my new laptop is fast enough to handle RAW files where necessary in 4k on the monitor. Let me just tell you that the Dell XPS 15 9510 with 32GB of RAM is the most insane laptop ever!
This is probably one of the most important sections in this entire article. For me, someone who loves being organised, you can’t not have your thousands and thousands of images stored in a simple structure that makes file management easy. It is easy to get overwhelmed but let me tell you exactly how I do it.
All of my images have been saved in exactly the same way since I first switched to Fujifilm in 2016. I have since re-organised all of my folders on my LaCie hard-drive so that all of my photos are sorted by year; from 2013 all the way to the present day. It’s quite a basic system with my image files being stored as follows; YEAR/MONTH/DAY. So, let’s say I’ve taken some photos today – they’ll be stored in the following folder structure: 2022/July/31. If I’ve taken RAW and JPEG images, I’ll separate them out within the DAY folder into two distinct folders.
Now that I’m writing this down I can’t really imagine storing images in any other way. The only way in which it would be slightly different is when I do a commercial shoot (for example shooting the new food menu at The Grind cafe), I’ll create a separate folder in the corresponding month so that it doesn’t overlap into my day to day images.
My big ten month travel trip through Australia and South East Asia is stored completely separately but the file structure is the same; COUNTRY/YEAR/MONTH/DAY.
For weddings, something similar happens. I have one main folder on the LaCie hard-drive split into years and then into weddings by surname. Within each of those weddings, I’ll have separate folders for all of the RAW images and all of the JPEGS.
Despite shooting almost exclusively JPEG which require only minimal edits, I still opt to pay for Adobe Lightroom which I find unbeatable. For me, Lightroom is an absolute must not only for my minor edits but also editing RAW files and organising my photos.
As I’ve explained above, I have a very straight forward file management system. With Lightroom I add to that system by utilising the excellent ‘Collections’ which sync directly to my phone. I have yearly collections where pretty much all of my photos each year are added to – so, quite simply, I have a main 2022 collection for this year. I will then narrow it down with more specific collections which might be based on places I’ve visited, weddings or people (I have one full of photos of Evelyn).
Another important feature is the Attribute Filter which I use every day. All photos are filtered into either ‘Pick’ (finished), ‘Unflagged’ (still to edit) or ‘Rejected’ (I’ll then delete from Lightroom and the storage).
Whilst I pay £9.99 a month for Lightroom and Photoshop (I never use it!), I couldn’t do without it so I guess I’m kind of suckered in with this subscription model.
All modern cameras now have the ability to wirelessly share images direct from your camera to your phone. If I’m out and about and want to quickly share an image (for example on my Instagram story as I did whilst exploring Tees Valley on a paid partnership), I’ll simply press the dedicated Wi-Fi button on my Fujifilm X-T2, open up the Fujifilm Camera Remote app on my phone and select the images to import. This definitely highlights the beauty of ‘getting it right in camera’, which is especially easy with Fujifilm’s film simulations, as everything is pretty much good to go! Whilst my final images look slightly different once they’ve been imported into Lightroom, I’m often more than happy with my photos straight out of camera.
I must say though that whilst this sounds perfectly straightforward, Fujifilm’s app leaves a lot to be desired and freezes at least two or three times per import! Frustrating.
MY FIVE STEP PHOTOGRAPHY WORKFLOW
Step 1 – Take photos off SD Card
The first step after any shoot is to head upstairs to my office, put the SD cards straight in the laptop and save all the photos in line with my file management system above. They go straight onto the hard-drive; I only store the Lightroom catalog on my laptop whilst literally everything else is on the external hard-drive. I don’t normally delete anything off the SD cards until I’m sure they’re on the hard-drive. If it’s a wedding or something else important, everything will stay on the SD cards until the final photos have been delivered.
Step 2 – Import into Lightroom / Apply Presets
This is where things start to heat up. I have the easiest Lightroom import preset set up which selects only new photos from the folder I choose and then applies my JPEG Standard present for very minor edits (described in my 2021 Fujifilm JPEG Settings article). I also ensure that Smart Previews are created immediately which means that I can use the laptop as it is intended and edit photos anywhere I want without having to plug in my hard-drive. The quality isn’t as high in terms of the preview but it has no impact whatsoever on the final output (as long as the hard-drive is plugged in when you go to export). I honestly love smart-previews; it’s probably one of my top tips to anyone to use in their photography workflow.
Step 3 – Cull / Minor Edits
Probably the most boring though important part of any workflow is the cull. I always try to do this first so that I can get rid of the definite no’s immediately. I’m great at this when I’m editing professional jobs but for my own personal stuff I just head for the best photos to get them sorted and then leave loads untouched. I have to admit that, for my personal photos, I sometimes end a year with thousands of left over photos that don’t really ever see the light of day again. Not good!
Even though I’ve applied my import preset, I find that there’s often a little bit more to do; straightening up those lines and brightening up the exposure. To be fair, this is one of the benefits of shooting JPEGs and using an import preset. It saves so much editing time!
It’s not quite the same if I’m shooting a wedding as there’s a lot more editing involved. I could probably write a whole separate post about shooting weddings but the basic takeaway is that I shoot in black and white JPEG and use the RAW files for all the colour photography.
Step 4 – Pick/Add to collection
Once I’m happy with the photo, I quickly press P and B which, in Lightroom, means that it’s ‘Picked’ (remember from above, I use the attribute filter) and then ‘Added to Target Collection’. The target collection I set manually when going through the edits whether that be my main ‘year’ collection or a ‘wedding’ collection. It’ll sync straight to my phone ready for wider sharing if necessary.
Step 5 – Export / Save from Phone
All done! If the photos are to be used on my blog, I will export the files onto my laptop, upload them and then simply delete. I think I export at a maximum size of 2.5MB and they can then be automatically be re-sized when added to the blog. For everything else, sharing on social media etc, I will just save the images directly from the Lightroom app on my phone – so straight forward.
Well, there we are. I’ve finally shared my Fujifilm photography workflow which works so well for Fujifilm JPEG shooters where minimal editing is required. Hopefully you’ve found this interesting and potentially even found something new to add to your own workflow!
I always welcome comments and emails so let me know if you have any thoughts at all or any tips for improving my own workflow!