Take These Shortcuts to Improve Your Photo Editing Workflow


If you’re like most photographers, you’d much rather be out shooting instead of sitting in front of the computer, endlessly tweaking your photos. The good news is that by employing a few shortcuts, you can speed up your photo editing workflow dramatically.

Here are some tips for shaving off a few seconds per photo — which can really add up over time.

Using Hotkeys

To start, I would suggest learning the ins and outs of the functions you use the most in your image editor. Once you learn those functions and find out what suits your workflow best, it’s a great idea to learn the program’s hotkeys.

Hotkeys are defined as keyboard shortcuts that trigger an action within the program. Hotkeys can save a tremendous amount of time once you learn the shortcuts and incorporate them into your workflow.

Automatic Actions

Another great way to save time and energy is to set up automatic actions for large numbers of photos. If you have a lot of images you need to get to your clients in a timely manner, and they are requesting a specific file type or color space, you can set up an automatic action to save you time batching the photos.

For example, I have a client who likes images to be CMYK and saved as TIFF, so I created an action that opens each image, converts it to CMYK and then saves the photo as a TIFF. Once the photos are edited, I run this action on the folder full of images and off they go to the client.

Endless Possibilities

Another way to save editing time is to create an action that sizes all of the images in a folder to a specific viewing size, creating an online gallery for your clients. I size the photos small enough to view as proofs on a Web site — say, as 500px tall, 72 dpi jpegs.

By setting up an action, it only takes me three clicks to do this for a set of photos. Imagine how long it would take if I had to open 200 images individually, size them and save each one.

Once you get the hang of creating actions, the possibilities are endless. Some photographers like to batch logos onto all of their photos before posting them to Web sites. Others like to create a certain look and feel for a large number of photos without having to open each image. Chances are, once you start setting up actions, you’ll never look back.

10 Seconds Per Photo Adds Up

These shortcuts will really pay off for you over time. It’s amazing what shaving even 10 seconds of editing time per photo can do for your workflow.

Let’s say that on an average day you have to edit 30 photos for a client. By shaving off 10 seconds per photo during your edit, you can save 300 seconds — or five minutes of editing time that day.

That might not sound like much, but when you multiply it by 260 working days in a year, you’re saving more than 20 hours in editing time. That’s almost three full days where you can do something else — rather than sit in front of your monitor.


2 Responses to “Take These Shortcuts to Improve Your Photo Editing Workflow”

  1. Good tips, but isn't batch converting images to CMYK a bit risky? Letting go of the color control?

  2. If you're on Linux, resizing is easy. Use Imagemagick to resize your pics to the right resolution. Whenever I want to make a batch resize, I make a directory with copies of all the high rez pics I'm interesetd in. Then I go to the command line and type:

    mogrify -resize 600x400 *.jpg

    Replace 600x400 for your desired resolution. It's pretty simple really. You can resize hundreds of images in no time at all.

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