Gavin Gough publishes “The Photographer’s Workflow”
As a pilot and photographer, travel photography has always been of interest to me. One of the travel photographers whom I most admire is Gavin Gough, a fellow tea-drinking Englishman based in Bangkok, who also runs the popular Bangkok Photo School. I have followed Gavin’s work for several years, and I draw inspiration from his stunning photography and enjoy reading his blog on a regular basis.
In case you are not familiar with Gavin’s work, here’s just one example of his photography and his writing – a beautifully told story of his interaction with a calligrapher in a small Chinese town, which also very much sums up Gavin’s thoughtful and considered approach to photography, a lesson in itself in slowing down, being fully present in the moment, and deliberate about what we do with a camera. Gavin is a talented wordsmith as well as an inspirational photographer.
As a photographer, I struggle to effectively manage and process the thousands of images that I shoot. I often feel that I am drowning in digital data: the backlog of images waiting to be processed seems to grow ever longer, and my approach to adding keywords and other metadata to my images is often haphazard at best. From talking to other photographers I know that I am not alone in feeling that way. One of the huge advantages of digital is the ability to shoot an almost unlimited number of images at zero cost. The downside is the subsequent selection, processing and management of a vast number of photographs – and hours (sometimes days) of toil behind the computer. So when I heard that Gavin was putting together an e-book entitled “The Photographer’s Worklow” in which he explains in great detail his process for getting the maximum post-processing work done in the shortest amount of time, I was immediately interested. Gavin is ‘the real McCoy’, the real deal; I have followed his blog and his photography long enough to know that everything he does, he does with great integrity, professionalism and to the highest standards – so I knew before I even saw the e-book that it would be gold.
There are many books available explaining how to use the various post-production software tools on the market (Adobe Lightroom, Apple Aperture, Adobe Photoshop and the like), but none that I had found to date – prior to Gavin’s e-book – which tell you how to exploit the full potential of these tools to streamline your workflow. Gavin’s e-book promises to plug that gap.
“The Photographer’s Workflow” is a guide to digital post-production using Adobe Lightroom, the key component of my own image management and processing workflow, although much of it would be readily applicable to other similar Digital Asset Management applications such as Apple Aperture. The e-book explains the entirety of Gavin’s post-capture workflow, from taking the image files from the camera, through uploading, storing, cataloguing, keywording, captioning, processing, archiving, promoting and final output. The e-book follows Gavin’s own digital workflow and reveals the step-by-step approach which has allowed him to maintain a consistent approach to Digital Asset Management over many years and with tens of thousands of images.
As well as being an acclaimed travel photographer, Gavin has a sharp, logical, analytical mind – prior to becoming a professional photographer he worked as an Analyst – and he has put those analytical abilities to good use in solving the problem of how to use Adobe Lightroom in the most efficient way he can in order to process and manage his images as quickly as possible. The e-book represents the fruits of that labour and of Gavin’s hard-won knowledge, and is based upon many years of experience and lots of trial and error. Creating it has been, Gavin says, a labour of love.
In Gavin’s own words:
“I’ve always enjoyed the fact that photography is a wonderful blend of left-brain and right-brain disciplines. But creativity doesn’t end when you’ve pressed the shutter release. Being able to make the most of your hard work with a post-production workflow to make your mother proud is the next half of what it is to be a photographer.
Before I was a photographer I earned a crust working as a Systems Analyst. “A what?”, I hear you cry. Well, I analysed systems, obviously. My job was to look at a workflow process, review it, tweak it, re-design and refine it until it gave the smoothest, most effective and most consistent results. I’ve brought that experience to bear when developing my post-production workflow and I’m happy to say that it’s evolved it into a hassle-free process which allows me to get the maximum work done in the shortest amount of time.”
Sound good? I thought so too.
So, what is the e-book actually like?
I finally got my hands on the e-book last night, and I can tell you that it more than lives up to Gavin’s promise – I couldn’t put it down until I had read it all, and I shall be reading it again over the next few days, and undoubtedly referring to it on a regular basis until I have fully implemented his system in my own workflow. The e-book is superb; clear, easy to read, comprehensive, logically structured and well-written – and the content is fantastic. I particularly like Gavin’s inspired use of Lightroom ‘Smart Collections’ to move his images through his workflow like products on a factory production line, from the ‘bare-bones’ images following initial import into Lightroom to a fully catalogued, keyworded, captioned, and processed set of images at the other end, ready to be sent out into the world. Another thing that particularly caught my eye was that Gavin’s system enables you to leave your digital post-production at any stage, walk away, and return to it several days later and know exactly where you are in your image-processing pipeline thanks to these Smart Collections which effectively ‘bookmark’ where you are with each image, making it impossible to skip or overlook anything in error. That sounds very welcome: I’ve lost count of the number of times I have returned to my computer after a few days only to ask myself: ‘Now where exactly did I get up to with these images?’ I can’t ever remember looking forward to adding metadata to images before, but Gavin’s workflow suggestions have me champing at the bit (well, almost!) to add some more metadata to my image files. At the very least, I can see that his way of doing things will make the job of adding metadata less like pulling teeth, which is how it feels to me at the moment.
I have been using Lightroom for several years, and know the application very well, but by adopting Gavin’s workflow and adapting it to my own requirements I can see that it will make me far better organised, better able to locate images in my archive quickly, more consistent in my use of metadata and able to process my images more effectively and efficiently. In short, Gavin’s approach promises to revolutionise the way I manage and process my photographs and save me significant amounts of time – which in turn, will free up more time to actually go out and make photographs – the reason I became a photographer in the first place. (It certainly wasn’t the allure of adding metadata.)
Gavin gives examples of two different uses of his workflow: one for professional photographers looking for final images ready for output with all the metadata bells and whistles necessary for marketing the images effectively; and another, simpler workflow for photographers who simply want to organise and process their images in the minimum possible time, and be able to find them quickly again when they need to. Alternatively, you can easily customise the workflow to suit your exact needs if neither of the above two workflow models fits the bill. It is a powerful, flexible system.
The e-book includes the following topics:-
- How to protect your precious image files while travelling – Gavin’s approach to storage and security of his images in the field;
- Importing images into Lightroom, including the judicious use of Lightroom presets to help maintain consistency and cut down post-production time;
- The cunning use of Lightroom Smart Collections to catalogue images and move them through your workflow system in a highly effective and efficient way;
- Some clever tricks for adding metadata to images quickly (essential to help you find images in your library, and for enabling others to find your images online);
- How to get the most out of Lightroom’s powerful Develop module to bring the beauty out of your bland raw files and reinforce your personal style, as well as a look at Lightroom’s integration with Photoshop and some of Nik Software’s post-production tools;
- How to create a colour-managed workflow – essential for accurate and predictable colour across different devices, from computer display to print to the Web (one of the most crucially important aspects of post-production, and one which photographers often struggle to implement);
- How to archive and back-up your images to keep them safe, secure and searchable;
- How to output your images for different media and end-use requirements.
The e-book is available as a download package which includes the following: –
- The e-book itself in PDF format – bright, colourful and professionally designed;
- A link to a number of Gavin’s online video tutorials, each of which illustrate chapters in the e-book;
- A large collection of Adobe Lightroom Workflow Collections and Presets to help you implement the cataloging and processing of your images in accordance with the advice in the e-book;
- Third-party applications and plug-ins
The book is based on the latest incarnation of Adobe Lightroom: Lightroom 4. It is is aimed at those who already have a working knowledge of Lightroom, as it does not explain every feature of the product in detail, but rather focuses on those aspects of Lightroom relevant to streamlining your digital post-production. It is a book about improving your workflow using Lightroom – not a book teaching you how to use Lightroom if you’ve never used it before.
If you are a Lightroom user, and you only buy one photography book this year, I strongly recommend that you make it this one.
The price of the e-book is US $30, which to my mind represents outstanding value for the time it promises to save me and the benefits it brings to the management of my images, not to mention the time and expertise Gavin has clearly put into producing it. If you’re in the UK, that’s currently around £19, or €23 if you’re in the Eurozone.
If you’re still not convinced that this e-book represents incredible value, here’s Gavin to tell you all about it in person in this short video:
If you’d like to buy it, you can get your copy by clicking on the following link:
… and if you’d like to see more of Gavin’s work, you can find his blog and portfolio at www.gavingough.com.