10 Upgrades for Your Photography Workflow (and Life) this Winter!

Photography as a profession can be somewhat seasonal depending on your focus and client base, and downturns sometimes happen to the best of us. Clients may be in a slow period themselves, focused on different projects, challenges, even holiday vacations serve as distractors for decision makers. When the winter months roll around, or simply when life slows down, a few key steps can help you not only regroup but prepare for the next opportunity. So after binge watching Netflix get old, here’s a list of (mostly free) opportunities to set yourself up for success when things get busy again.

1. Organize your camera bag or case(s)
Clean it out! Does anything need to be fixed? This is your chance to add that thing you keep forgetting like Aleve, eye drops, hand warmers, bandaids, a hex key to tighten grub screws on a tripod. Those little additions can make an enormous difference as you create. Earlier this year I picked up a stainless steel rolling storage rack at Costco for organizing my equipment and it’s made preparing for off site jobs incredibly straight forward. It makes it easier to inventory and maintain gear, while making it harder to forget something needed for a job. Stay tuned for a follow up post on what my equipment organization looks like.

2. Untangle with cable management
Use velcro cable ties to better store your power & USB cables. Not only does it look more impressive, you’ll find what you need faster. Amazon sells these, I usually get them at Harbor Freight (check their ad for a 20% off coupon). This same principle apples to a clean setup at your workstation. In my days working at Apple, with a new store opening or plano setup, cables were managed down to the millimeter. Extreme, but Apple understands the impact that presentation and organize can have. Colored ties, or more cheaply, the closure tabs on store bought bread, work great for labeling which cable attaches to a peripheral.

3. Create document templates to save time later
This has long been a favorite of mine in Apple’s Pages, as well as Apple’s Numbers. It keeps office tasks more automated and consistent, freeing energy from procedure to focus on the task at hand. Stand outs include equipment inventory spreadsheet, mileage log, estimating forms, contracts. These documents are always a work in progress and it’s taken years to get to this point, but templates are my favorite way of organizing them in Apple’s iWork suite.

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4. Declutter your desk by going paperless
There’s not much reason to keep physical copies for most things if you are backing your data up. I download current PDFs from all of my online accounts organized by date & in folders by type, which also saves trees. Cleaning out is super refreshing, so go one further and declutter your workspace by scanning documents. If you don’t have one, get a scanner with a document feeder, it’s far more efficient than using a tray. Scanning makes it faster to find the information you need and while on the go. Naming and organizing your documents will pay dividends later. It takes a second and your accountant will love you with all the time (and potentially money) saved in tax prep. Expensify is my preferred app of choice for saving paper receipts. It offers free and paid services, and the online interface allows for greater customization in the iOS app, and can generate PDF reports of receipts. Be sure to securely dispose of your paper documents with a paper shredder. If you don’t have one, they’re not expensive or see if a friend has one to loan. Pro tip: keep current year records in one folder, synced with DropBox. You can use the app on your phone to then access any of your records, contracts, etc., quickly and on the go.

5. Schedule social media posts
If you keep your photographs organized by date, this process is already started for you – just start at the top and work your way down. Focus on what works for you so it gets done. If that means scheduling posts a month at a time in WordPress instead of posting twice a week, go for it.

6. Get image organization off your plate
Staying on top of image organization and color correction will remove a lot of stress. It helps manage client expectations and avoids further delays taking on new projects. I shouldn’t have to mention backing up because that should be step one after photographing, arguably while photographing if your camera has two memory card slots. Creating a dedicated off site backup is also wise if you don’t have one, and Carbon Copy Cloner can help. Find a hard drive on a holiday sale and use it for a dedicated backup off site for content made over the last year or more. This is also a great time to for maintenance, including software updates and, if you’re a nerd like me, using Disk Warrior to repair volume directories.

Remember, two is one, one is none.

7. Learn a new skill, software application, or photo technique
Watch a tutorial. Take a class. Try out new gear, or try using your equipment differently. Learn to weld. Read a book or continue reading this blog. The list of learning resources out there is endless. RGG EDU, Lynda.com, Zack Arias’ Ded Pxl tutorials are my personal favorites. I recently switched to Capture One Pro 10 which you can read about here and here on their blog, something that I invested a lot of time in.

Capture One’s webinars are a superb (free) resource and in a few weeks I’ll be offering a webinar with David Grover on image organization. You can sign up for one of the available time slots here for free.
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8. Get more from your camera
Whenever I buy a new camera, I do my best to read the entire manual before photographing with it. Features that your hard earned dollar pay for are better learned and you’re more prepared to put them into practice. One place where I skipped years ago and wished I hadn’t was with my APC backup, when I later learned I could easily disable the Master slots so each outlet functioned independently. Pro tip – find the manual in PDF format online and save it on your phone for quick reference in the field.
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9. Catch up on tax prep
From updating mileage logs to saving receipts and online statements as PDFs, you’ll be glad you kept up with this come tax time. Scanning your documents will certainly help, and QuickBooks Cloud can make your financial workflow better. It automatically syncs your bank and credit card statements while learning your habits, all you have to do is assign or confirm each expense after they are incurred. If you have an accountant, well first hire one, and second, talk with them about how QuickBooks Cloud can save you time. If you are growing and would benefit outsourcing part of what you do, an accountant is perhaps the most beneficial person you can enlist.

10. Cash in your unused gear
Remember cleaning out your camera bag? What tools do you have that you’re not using that someone else could be? Free up extra cash or even make a trade towards something you can use to improve your workflow. KEH is an excellent source for selling (and buying) used gear. Sign up for their email newsletter first, they often have promotions for both buying and selling.

Bonus: Find new inspiration
Not everything has to be photo related. I get a lot of inspiration reading books completely unrelated to photography. Listen to a new music album or record (vinyl is wonderful for this), catch up with friends, go to a museum, an art gallery, or take a day trip somewhere new. Photograph for yourself or put the camera down, depending on the season you are in.



Save 10% when buying or upgrading to Capture One Pro 10 for Mac & PC via the Phase One Online Store using the promo code AMBUSH at checkout.

Switching to Capture One From Aperture – Photography Workflow

Making the Switch
After years working in Apple’s Aperture 3, which is no longer being developed, I am transitioning to Capture One. Through many tutorials, reading forums, and working in the application, the transition I once abhorred is now one I relish. There are so many resources out there, especially Capture One’s YouTube page, but my take focuses on filling the gaps. David Grover is the man and has invested a ton of time into creating live and recorded webinars. I highly recommend watching as many of those as possible. Capture One is developed by the amazing camera company Phase One so they know how us photographers think. They have a vested interest in developing software for the industry they know so well. It’s what they do, so who better to look after the needs of (professional) photographers? The following is a list of how my workflow is established and the concepts that have been the most helpful to me in switching to Capture One full time. If you want to start learning without taking any risk, create a test library & follow along!


Transitioning Libraries from Aperture to Capture One
For starters, Capture One can read Aperture libraries or import them into a Capture One catalog. They are definitely different applications but extremely similar in core thinking which is great. Most image adjustments transfer from Aperture to Capture One with the notable exceptions being cloning adjustments and Smart Albums. Before making the jump, consider creating new Albums in Aperture and drag images from Smart Albums into those if you want your organization to remain the same. Aperture organized my photographs in Managed Libraries, one for each calendar year, and I can use Catalogs in Capture one to do the same.


One feature that drove me crazy and I could not figure out from Capture One’s plethora of helpful tutorials is that Projects do not directly contain photographs in Capture One as they would in Aperture. Images are stored in Collections. Under User Collections, there you will find the most control and create your own organizational structure. Projects or folders must contain an Album for photographs to live. In some instances, this makes a lot more sense because images can be stored/linked in multiple groupings. I import by memory cards into Albums within the Project for rating, then move them out after they are rated. Images can be rated with stars (1-5) or color labels, but there is not a flag feature. Keywords can be used in Capture One 9.2.


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Backing Up in Camera
Whether it’s my D4, D3, or D7100, each camera is set up to copy photographs to both memory cards (of the same storage capacity) simultaneously for an in camera backup. When packing up, I separate one of each pair of cards using a Think Tank Pocket Rocket tethered to my belt loop for safe keeping. When I get to my MacBook Pro, the Think Tank has everything I need ready to import.


Importing & Image Organization in Capture One
I store photographs in annual Capture One Catalogs stored on a RAID 5 Thunderbolt Enclosure. Within the Capture One library structure, job types are virtually organized in folders (Commercial, Magazine, Product, Event, Personal, etc). Each job is named by date as a Project, with the relevant photographs being linked to an Album within that project. Smart Albums filter for criteria for final photographs, social media edits, etc. Capture One does not avoid importing previous adjustments.


Backing up with Capture One
While Capture One offers the ability to back up adjustments, it does not back up image files! A separate solution, Carbon Copy Cloner, will fill that void. Coming from Aperture, this was initially a deal breaker until I started doing more research. Aperture allows you to create multiple “Vaults” which backup your library, which you must manually initiate to backup. What’s potentially problematic down the road, Aperture Vaults are not workable libraries but read only backups that need to be rebuilt into a working library using Aperture. Whenever Aperture is no longer functional on macOS, restoring from a Vault is going to be a problem. I plan to create new 1:1 backups of libraries using Carbon Copy Cloner to replace Aperture Vaults


In Carbon Copy Cloner, you create tasks that automatically run backups of designated volumes or files to other  volumes at automated intervals of your choosing. Capture One Catalogs are identically copied and are instantly writable/usable on the backup drive, something Aperture could not do. That’s well worth $39.99. I created tasks to automatically back up my Capture One libraries onto an external drive that is always connected, AND a second task to backup to another external drive on connection that is brought in for off site backup after each job.


A RAID 5 enclosure with multiple hard drives formatted as a single volume is still just one enclosure, stored in one location. While RAID 5 offers redundancy and performance across multiple hard drives, it is not a true backup.
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Tethering with Capture One
One of Capture One’s strongest features is tethering, whereby a camera is connected to a computer, usually by a long (15’) USB cable for consistency. Exposure adjustments can be controlled from the camera so the camera can be entirely still for product or architectural photography. There is a live view feature which is massively helpful for composing, especially if a creative director or client are on hand. Images appear on the computer display automatically after capture, and there is an option to apply previous image adjustments to each sequential photograph which is a huge time saver. This is great for applying vertical or horizontal perspective adjustments on images made from a stationary camera, a significant feature Aperture lacked.


I will probably use Carbon Copy Cloner when photographing tethered since Capture One only saves image files locally on the computer. A USB drive for flash drive setup to backup a Session or Catalog with Carbon Copy Cloner would remedy that.


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Capture One Pilot
A part of tethering, this feature is insane. If you are connected on Wifi, you can share a server link that will allow the viewer to follow along remotely as you photograph in their web browser. This is included in Capture One under the Capture Tab. There is an iOS App that can access the library, too, and a paid version to enable tether controls. This is an incredible feature that I can’t believe is a) possible b) included c) so simple to use.

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Helpful hints – Capture One tips to make your life easier 
Closing a Capture One catalog is not quitting the application.
Under Preferences – General, opening a new Catalog or Session can be opened in a new window to have multiple libraries open at the same time which Aperture could not do.
Many keyboard shortcuts can be edited in Capture One to match up with those from Aperture, if desired. This makes the greatest difference in feeling at home in Capture One.
The layout of Capture One is extremely modular and customizable. Multiple workspaces can be saved to show the tools and organizational components you desire, where you want them. Editing workspaces is as simple as resaving the workspace after making desired changes.
Command B toggles the browser. Using multiple monitors, it is great having a custom work space on one display and the browser open to a full image on another.
Export presets are called Recipes. Multiple Recipes can be ran simultaneously for different purposes.
Capture One is optimized for working on multiple displays.
Option to enable Focus Masks – show what’s in focus, similar to a highlight alert
Capture One offers film packs, with free samples, to apply analog film filters to photographs

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Capture One Wish List
1) “Do not import duplicates” on ingestion. This would be hugely helpful for shooting with a constant mix of tethered & untethered capture.
2) Ability to display uneditable preview instead of full raw file for faster editing.
3) Shortcut to toggle between two workspaces quickly. There is, however a drop down that can be added to the toolbar. On multiple monitors this isn’t a big deal. On a 13” MacBook Pro it is.
4) Before/After shortcut key or button to show the original image and the adjusted variant, as well as an option to preview a before/after per adjustment.
5) Previously applied cloning adjustments carrying over from Aperture. The tool itself in Aperture was also much, much easier to use. Retouching skin, sensor dirt, to me now feels too complicated/time consuming.
6) Create an album at Import Images screen.
7) When moving photographs from one album to another in the viewer, dragging into the Tools menu automatically switches to the Library temporarily.
 8) Arrows on each end of an adjustment slider to incrementally change an adjustment by clicking.
9) Designate Output Naming Counter start number to any number.


It is important to understand that Capture One and Aperture work differently but these features would be very beneficial to have.


Capture One Difficulties
Maybe it’s me but if anyone has suggestions on how to address these challenges or to make any of those items on the wish list a reality, please let me know. I spend countless hours in post production mode and every improvement would save a great deal of time. As a disclaimer, I’m running macOS 10.12 Beta/Golden Master, which is a risk I don’t recommend. Some of these challenges may be the result of the OS.
1) From my main catalog, I exported a project as a new library to edit (choose) and manually sort images in a specific order on my MacBook Pro away from my desk. When reimporting the catalog into my main catalog, the images were sorted by Name, and choosing manual did not revert to the order I created. I had to resort the images in Capture One all over again.
2) Crashes. The last few adjustments made are lost after each crash.
3) When exporting, I want to be able to give images a job name with a counter, but I can’t find a way to set (not reset, but designate) the starting number for the counter. Normally I export in chunks to upload in the background and not having the ability to set that counter to a designated number slows that workflow down tremendously.


Final Thoughts
Capture One 9.2 is an extremely deep application. It can do many things found in Aperture, as well as many features you’ll wish you had years ago. While it is different at it’s core, from a host of professional features to a RAW interpreter that is second to none, making the switch to Capture One is very worth the effort. I’ve heard Capture One is like getting a free camera upgrade in terms of quality and that’s absolutely been my experience. It is exciting to utilize software that is alive & well, improving with time, and offering feedback that will be heard. There is much I have yet to discover in Capture One 9.2 so stay tuned for a follow up post and share your favorite features and tips in the comments below!
Save 10% when buying or upgrading to Capture One Pro 10 for Mac & PC via the Phase One Online Store using the promo code AMBUSH at checkout.