When it comes to workflow, the fact of the matter is everybody does things a little bit differently. But the one thing that we all have in common is that were always trying to shave seconds off our process. Nobody wants to be stuck at home on a Friday night editing photos for hours.
Although sometimes, we end up doing just that.
I’m not going to lie, aside from the obvious questions about lighting setups and whatnot, the one thing I get asked a lot (and the questions I love to ask other photographers) are mostly related to workflow. How can we speed things up? How can we work smarter, not harder?
Depending on your thought process and what you shoot, the debates about shooting RAW vs JPEG have been around forever. Everyone has their own opinion on this. I, personally, like to shoot RAW. I like the flexibility it gives me in post… I mean seriously, haven’t there been times where you screwed up exposure or color temperature and wish you just had a little bit of flexibility in bringing it back to reality? RAW does that for me. The problems with shooting RAW are obvious: large file sizes and processing times. Normally, even with my computers, which have fairly decent and fast processors, it would take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes just to bust out a proofing gallery for the web from a typical photo shoot.
I feel that proofs are essential for the client to see what was generated… But not just for the client, for the makeup artist, hairstylist, wardrobe, and model… It’s important for everyone involved to be able to see the work that was generated to see what was done right, what was done wrong, things to improve on, etc. But 30 minutes just to generate a bunch of proofs is pretty ridiculous. That’s 30 minutes I could be already starting to work on images… But instead, I’m waiting for my computer to finish processing images, and that’s no bueno. Fairly recently, a no-brainer concept came to me. It’s something that our new dSLRs have been doing for quite some time, so it’s not that revolutionary.
What was this magical solution? Shooting RAW plus small JPEG.
I’m not sure why I didn’t think about it earlier. Instead of writing just one file, the camera writes two files: your basic large, RAW file and a small JPEG. The benefit of this is you get your editable RAW, but you also get an already resized JPEG version that you can e-mail, post to the web, generate a proofing gallery, etc. It’s already small, so your computer doesn’t have to process it from RAW file. And it’s already a JPEG, which means your computer is not actually processing image information, only resizing it to your specifications. You could shoot RAW plus medium or large JPEG also… But I feel that a small JPEG is big enough for proofs and sharing. You don’t really need anything bigger than that… If you did, you might as well just shoot RAW and generate a JPEG from that. :)
What’s great about this is because the images are written together, when you import them into a program like Lightroom, the images are bundled together. That means that when you rename them, the RAW version is named with the same name as your small JPEG. Keeping things straight is important for me.
Now, if you don’t like shooting RAW, this probably doesn’t mean much to you. Also, if you shoot sports, events, and some weddings, where shooting fast and furious is important to you, this also may not mean much to you. I’m not going to lie, because the camera is writing two images instead of one, the processing time to get it from the buffer to the card is a little bit longer. It’s not much longer, but it’s definitely noticeable, especially when speed is important. However, if you’re shooting fashion or glamour, or even portraits, speed is not necessarily a huge factor… And if you can save some time in the end, it’s totally worth it.
If you’re looking to shave some time off of your post process and if you’re someone like me who likes to share photos quickly right after a photo shoot, shooting RAW plus small JPEG will definitely help out.