May 14, 2021

Mick Orlosky: Why a good workflow is so important

Mick Orlosky: Why a good workflow is so important

πŸ’― πŸ’― πŸ’― "If you want to be a very efficient ninja with your workflow, to do things as fast as possible like a sports photographer on Super Bowl Sunday, the key is kind of doing a little bit of prep work beforehand, getting your thing set up and understanding the information that you're going to need."

Every photographer, amateur or professional, needs to have a repeatable system for organizing and managing their images.  From ingesting, to culling, to keywording; they all make up the foundation of a good backend workflow.  In this episode, we talk with the director of marketing at Camera Bits, Mick Orlosky, on the essentials of a good digital process.


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Michael Der  0:02  
You're listening to Artrepreneurs, a podcast that inspires photographers and visual artists to live their best creative lives. My name is Michael Der and I am a full-time photographer with nearly 10 years of experience in the freelancing world. And I'm sitting down with an amazing community of visual artists to talk about process, business, and the lessons that have helped them grow. So let's get to it. Artrepreneurs starts right now.

Alright Friends, welcome back to another episode Artrepreneurs Episode 20 is here thrilled to have you listening to the content and supporting this show. Now my featured guest today is a freelance photographer based out of Portland, Oregon, but also the Director of Marketing at camera bits, who is the company that makes photo mechanic the industry-leading software on photo management. So we're gonna be talking about the importance of improving your digital workflow so that you can spend more time making images and less time waiting for images and to help me do that is our photo mechanic guru Mick Orlowski who is going to also be helping us launch an awesome giveaway to one of our lucky listeners. For a free version of photo mechanic or photo mechanic plus the choice is yours. So be sure to stay to the end of the episode and get the instructions to enter. You can follow Mick in the camera bits crew on Instagram at camera bits and be sure to check out their products and blog articles on their website camera I will link everything in the show notes, folks. But for now I'm just excited to get the ball rolling on this topic. So let me just bring in my awesome guest the wonderful Mick Orlowski. Thanks for being here, Mick. I appreciate you making the time. 

Michael, it's great to be here. Thank you very much for the opportunity. 

Michael Der  1:32  
Absolutely. So I know you're a photo mechanic, Guru Mick. But I have to assume that you didn't get into photography, because digital workflow was your first great passion. So I'd love to hear just a little bit about the type of photography that you shoot. And then how photo mechanic eventually came into play into your career, 

certainly, so I got my start actually working for a digital media company down in Southern California. I was doing more product work for them. But they did live studio recordings of artists, they needed like a still photographer to kind of document some of that. And I was like, Oh, that sounds interesting. And then I got some amazing opportunities. And then I started covering festivals for them and live music events. And from there got a start working for some magazines in Los Angeles, just covering individual events, working with some of their music writers and rock photography, and live music photography became just something that I absolutely love. And that's how I got started. 

Michael Der  2:26  
That's so cool. And you have to be jonesing to get out there again, right? Because they kind of stopped in 2020. And I'm sure they still haven't resumed as of yet very much. 

So I've actually been to a couple socially distanced, outdoor sets. Yeah. And it's, it's fun. And it's great to hear live music, and but it's definitely not the same as being jammed up front, right against the stage with sweaty people pressing against you. Right, and that music and having the artists like right up top you exactly. 

Michael Der  2:53  
Now when did photo mechanic and the workflow aspect come into play for you was there like a tipping point in your photography career where you are doing your own system a certain way, and realize I can't do this anymore. This is terrible. There has to be something else out there. 

It's, it's interesting, I didn't know about photo mechanic specifically until I went to work there. Okay, the story of how I got hooked up with the camera bits folks was kind of like a strange coincidence between a friend of a friend in a whole different state. And I started doing just technical writing for them, because I had a deep knowledge of not only digital photography, but also like in my previous life as like a product manager. I had the kind of the digital media chops and also knowledge of like EXIF data, like I knew all that kind of stuff. I used Exif tool, like so I understood how keywords worked, how EXIF data works, how information gets written to a file from a camera, and I had all that kind of basic knowledge, started working for photo mechanic and then started using it. Yeah, and I mean, I used to spend hours in my car like after a show like tagging files and putting in captions keyword trying to call and it took me took hours. Yeah, and then I started using photo mechanic for the same thing. And I was just like, well, now I get it and I see why my folks use it like it was originally written for photographers at the Superbowl. Dennis Walker founded the company after he was he was there kind of like helping out the Associated Press the first year they started using digital cameras at the Super Bowl, and he was watching them try to deal with all the files like they would shoot files it would take 30 seconds to read a single frame to a card and then they would take it to the editors that they had set up in the truck and they were they didn't cameras can auto rotate the time so if there's anything portrait they are like tilting their head, and they were trying to deal with all these other things like you need like a utility to work with these files. And he wrote the first version at the time it was called quantum mechanic and that's that's how it got started to help editors at the Superbowl where you know, obviously getting images off the card sorted edited and then out to the wire services is like what seconds count in that situation. And that's how we got our start. 

Michael Der  4:58  
Yeah, and you know, it's it's so interesting.

That it's really maybe only been in the last 10 or so years where you have high frame rates, you've got bigger storage, you've got social media coming around. That is what accelerated the demands for reviewing and publishing images on a massively large scale. And in a short turnaround time, you may need to look at 2000 frames and get up 30 before halftime of a event. So for a photo mechanics have been created in the mid 90s. Well, before the tech even got there, seems way ahead of its time 

agreed that it's a it's just been iteration after iteration. Like he would talk to photographers for the Associated Press, we're getting like, what do you need of the editor? So like, there's the standards from the iptc? Like, how do we get this information in a global standard into these files as fast as possible? And he just kept iterating? on it, they would make requests, oh, can we have you know, this field or this field? Or can we put this there and so that kind of synergy between the actual photographers in the field and the editors that were backing them up. And we're still a small company like to say that we've been around for over 20 years and kind of blows my mind

in this day and age for one company to be working on the software, but we've been able to do that. And that's been a good ride, 

Michael Der  6:06  
I know, there's gonna be a little bit different for you than your normal presentation, because we can't visually follow along and see what your monitor looks like and what your process would look like. But from a conceptual standpoint, make like, let's just start off with the why. Why is it so imperative that we get better that we get faster that we get more detailed in our back end workflow?

 they say a picture's worth 1000 words, without those words actually being attached to the photo, sometimes you can't tell in this day and age, digital photography is everywhere. It's a very horizontally broad field. But there's so many shooters out there, so many outlets, so much need for digital imagery, going along with that is it a need to manage those images. And for each individual photographer, as you said, frame rates, versus shooting, the number of events are doing. So having a way to make sense of all that when when you know, using the metadata to say even basic things like from keywords, or captions. And even now, like places like Google Images, I just started surfacing licensing information, right. So if you put a an image on your website, you know, everyone, every photographer, professional photographer, I know, I'm very leery of putting anything online because they know it can be taken, it can be copied, there's no way to eliminate that. But you can have your image show up like Google images will just you know, crawl your website, pick up the images, and then say, Oh, we noticed there's a link for licensing this image, right in the metadata for that image. And it will surface that things like that are huge. It's like just a way to kind of claw back a little bit of ownership and control of the digital experience. 

Michael Der  7:30  
Oh, yeah, that is a good reminder, because I remember seeing an article on that in the fall. And I think it's a really good feature for people who are looking to license their images. From your understanding, what do we need to do to set that in motion? Or I'm assuming we need to provide licensing information on our website? And then where do we put that? What do we put that link into the copyright URL and photo mechanic?

 there's a lot of different ways to do it. Some. Some services, like if you have a photo shelter account, like the web page itself, can can keep the information in some cases, depending on how you host your images, though google images will scrape the actual image for metadata that's written into the image. And if it exists, there, it will surface it, it will, it will check the website itself or associated metadata. If it's not on the website, it will check the image, then photo through photo mechanic, part of the iptc global standard of how this metadata gets written into the image. There are fields for licensing URLs, okay, very cool. And description and description of rights and Google Images. It was a big deal like this, the standard has been around for a while. But for Google images to say, we're finally going to actually go look for this image this information, it's always been there. Now, as I said, this doesn't mean that wherever your image shows up, you're gonna see this, like the outlets that publish images have to surface have to choose to surface this information. But for Google Images, they're obviously huge. And it's a great step to to push this forward. 

Michael Der  8:49  
Very cool. So for the people that don't know this program, just give me like, kind of a nuts and bolts of what photo mechanic is what is its core function. 

Sure, it's a photo viewer and metadata engine. Another term some folks uses to say it's a photo browser. Browse seems like a very laid back activity when this is really more of a an active like going through your images, calling them identifying keepers, identifying rejects, adding crucial metadata to them, and then getting them where they need to go, whether that's a post-processing software, whether that's an online repository, a wire service, an FTP site, um, it's sort of like the first step in a workflow that starts from camera to computer to post-processing to publishing. Yep, a photo mechanic kind of, it's the first step there and it enables all the all the steps after it to go much more smoothly. 

Michael Der  9:37  
And so I'm curious how important is it to know all of the tips and the tricks in photo mechanic? I know there are a lot of them. Is this something on the very basic level we can get by just knowing the absolute basics and nothing more? 

Oh, certainly. I know a lot of folks, they only use it for the calling process. They use photo mechanic to copy images from their memory card to their hard drive. They'll call sort through it.

Identify the, you know, the 10, keepers or whatever, and then drag them into something like Lightroom or capture one. And then that's it. And for that photo mechanic is very, very fast. There's a lot of other functionality that is useful for some folks and completely for some other folks. 

Michael Der  10:14  
Yeah. It depends on like the niche, right, 

right. Like it can do everything from actually creating Well, its own web galleries. It has incredibly powerful tools for renaming, adding captions, and keywords and all this copyright stuff. For example, if you're a sports shooter, and you do the work in advance to prepare a team roster sheet with with, you know, jersey numbers and player names and team names, when you're creating the caption in, you can use photo mechanic to just type in the jersey number, and it will fill in the name and the team of the player. So it's not necessary to know all that stuff, especially if you're not doing. Like if you're not writing complex captions, like a lot of people really don't need captions, like they can keyword an image, they don't need to caption it, so they don't need it. But for a lot of folks, it is very powerful. I think adding some of this image or some of this information can help folks, even if it's not a matter of publishing that information, but just keeping track yourself if you need to go back and search for a specific location, or a specific time period, or a certain camera or piece of equipment that you have tagged in there. Um, photo mechanic can help kind of keep track of all that for the future. And as, as you start building up a collection over years and years of being a photographer, you know that your image archives become more and more unwieldy, and memories start to go and everyone thinks, Oh, I know exactly when I took that picture six months ago, but six years later, like I have no idea where I put that in. 

Michael Der  11:34  
Now, I know everyone's workflow might be a little bit different is going to be nuanced to each person. But for the photographers starting out who have not developed any type of process just yet. Can you highlight like the basic prerequisites of what a good pre-editing workflow consists of like, what are the main bullet points there? 

For me, I would say, adding keywords to your images as fast as possible, or coming up with a good file naming convention, a schema that makes sense to you that you can search for later on coming up with a good folder structure. Those are the I think that I would call that the building blocks of a good workflow. And then from there, like, you know, keeping track of edits, alternate versions, you know, how whatever your post-processing thing is, but it all starts with like keywords, folders, and file names, I think would be the three like bullet points to kind of think about in advance. 

Michael Der  12:23  
Right, gotcha. And for those who aren't familiar with a lot of this language Mick, can you go over what ingesting is, what does that word mean in terms of your workflow. 

It's the term that we use and some other folks use that involves copying the images from a memory card to the computer. The reason we don't say import is because photo mechanic when you use it doesn't serve you don't bring images into photo mechanic photo mechanic looks at images wherever they happen to be. So if you like ingest your photos to your Mac to your hard drive, they're not like in photo mechanic per se, it's not like, Oh, I need to open photo mechanic to see these images, you can go into finder, you can go into Windows Explorer, and see the exact same folder that photo mechanic see. So that's why we don't use the term import, because that sort of suggests that it's like now you have to use photo mechanic, photo mechanic tries very hard to just, you know, let you manage things how you want just enable the viewing and working with those images where they already exist. 

Michael Der  13:16  
Very good. And so when we're doing this, do we need to wait for the ingesting period to complete before we can start looking through our images and start like that next phase of our workflow.

Certainly not in photo mechanic, you'll kick off an ingest, it will start copying the images, but within like two or three seconds, the first batch of first five or six, and then they'll start coming in. They'll show up in photo mechanics contact sheet which was the view of the folder that the images are going to then start populating. Like I said, within seconds, you can open up the first one, add a rating, add a color class, move on to the next very quickly, very quickly. Advanced and even with raw files. That's kind of the real reason why people though, the wow moment that people use photo mechanic pick up on is when you do that, when you look at it, take your first RAW file, make a decision at a star, click the star like ratings, four stars five stars, it instantly goes to the next image with just the one key press. And then you can make a decision on that press 123 or four or five instantly moves to the next. It's not rendering the raw file, it's using the embedded JPEG. So it's as close to instantaneous as you can imagine, and we'll say you're going through 500 RAW files. You know, if it took two seconds to render a raw file times five, looking through 500 images that would add up that would really take you a long time for sure. Photo mechanic just goes bam, bam, bam, bam. When that is the experience, you sort of get more in a mode of making instantaneous judgments on photos. So when I'm culling and I'm culling a concert, like I rely so heavily on the vibe that I get from an image in that first half second that I see it not only has it sped up my calling, but I think it's made me more

in touch with the impact of the image as well, where it's not like I'm seeing it slowly render, and I make judgments about composition, and then oh details, I might love a composition. But then it when it renders, I see, oh, maybe something's like not the exact focus I wanted. But I'll still be weighted down by the initial impression I had from the composition. And it kind of slows down my calling, as I start, my brain starts to deal with those concepts. At the same time, when it's instantaneous, I made a free to sort of make that initial like, this image is powerful, like, I'll kind of get that sense really, very early on. And it just makes my calling that much faster. And I think more efficient. 

Michael Der  15:37  
Yeah. And that's exactly why I love the program is because you can scroll through so fast, faster than you can even maybe like click, sometimes it's just going that fast. What is the culling process to you? Like? How do you How would you explain the culling process, 

there's a lot of different schools of thought about calling, some folks start with an empty thing. And they go through that they scroll through their images, they view them and they only pick the ones that they want to add to their sort of group of select. That's sort of, I would say, that's an additive calling process. And then other people start with their whole take as their working set. And then they work to subtract images or out-of-focus images that didn't work where you miss something on the frame didn't work. And that's sort of a subtractive con process, I go subtractive, I keep telling myself, I want to switch to additive subtractive. To do subtractive. To start with the entire take as you're like working set might take a little bit longer. But since I've saved so much time doing everything else, it still works for me. If I were to call additively, I would skip through, I would go through like the first 30 like I would start looking for the one in the whole take, then I say what's the best image from this entire take? Right, do that and just go. Now, what's the second one? I want to get to that point? I feel like it would be it's very idealistic, but I think the subtractive works for me and for most folks, I know start that way as well. 

Michael Der  16:53  
Yeah. And well, I think it speaks on, you know, everybody's got their version, their methodology of how they're going to call through images and select, these are the ones that I'm going to really work on or whatever. And there are a number of different ways you can tag. You can rate by numbers, like you said, you can rank them by colors. And so I imagine everybody has their own system. But have you noticed through your travels, maybe any one particular group of photographers maybe like wedding photographers or sports photographer, using one particular system? Have you noticed any trend in that regard? 

Oh, that's a good question. I, I feel like caught using color classes is probably the most popular, followed with the star ratings being second, they will, you know, use one color for their selects another color for their alternates a different color for rejects. And that's like the most basic kind of popular way that I would that I've seen. 

Michael Der  17:45  
Now, when it comes to calling down images, here's what I do. And I think you're gonna have something to say about it. So I'm interested to hear your opinion, I basically call off of my card, and then I ingest only the images that I want to edit. So instead of importing 2000 images, I might import 50, or I'm sorry, in just 50 it's certainly timesaving for me, but I have a feeling it's not necessarily overly safe for the best procedure. What are your thoughts on people who call off their cards instead of ingesting the whole take? 

That's certainly possible to do we always suggest copying everything to hard drive first. Now we we suggest that just for safety net for speed reasons, it is possible to call on a card, the only thing I would say is Be very careful about adding or changing metadata. While it's on a memory card just because of the design of solid state flash memory, just the way the information is organized, whether it's like a table of contents, and it relies on the actual site full file size down to the actual bits and bytes of the file when you start rewriting metadata. So if you if you're looking at an image on a card, you say, Oh, I want that to be color, class, blue, whatever, whatever program you're going to use, whether it be Lightroom photo mechanic, or whatever is gonna write the information into the file, but that's gonna make the file a few extra bytes longer. And if so at some point, the card has to know that and say rewrite its table of contents, all these kinds of things adds extra data to the to the card, it's not the most stable process no matter how you'd look at it, every time you make changes to the table of contents file. If it for whatever reason, like your computer hiccups, or the pauses because it's getting an incoming message or something, it may miss writing that table of contents. If that one little bit of the memory card becomes out of sync, the card then will show up as corrupted. 

Michael Der  19:27  
Gotcha. So as long as I'm not like rating, changing the iptc or the captioning, as long as I'm not doing that I'm sort of safe. 

Yeah, and if there's a way to do that in photo mechanic and really anywhere else you do it where like photo mechanic will allow you to select images like you can go through, and there's a way to while you're scrolling through images add to like the selected images where it doesn't write any information to the actual file, but folder mechanic the interface, the contact sheet, knows what images you've selected, and then you can select the ones you want.

And then copy those over. It's just it's a matter of kind of understanding how the process works and how to do the multiple selection within photo mechanic, I said that if you can master that process, you'll probably be ahead of the game because it will be faster, you won't have to go through that initial step. But for the most part, like, especially with you, ah, you adjust to card readers, like they're getting so fast or that it's generally safer. You don't have to worry too much about me like, Did I forget where those images am I actually writing images. Like, that's what we just say it's easier and safer. Just get everything on your harddrive. Then if something goes wrong, you have that you have the card as a backup 

Michael Der
gotcha. This got me thinking earlier, too, because I discovered something on your YouTube channel, which is a fantastic resource. By the way, I love the short-form content that you guys do. There was one about locking in camera and a lot of photographers, a lot of smart photographers do that they would lock an image because they think it's a keeper. And you're able to ingest maybe just those in the ingestion docks, are there any other features that maybe we should take advantage of that will save us time, in that first step in photo mechanic?

there's a lot in fact, there's a fellow named Jeff vogon. And he has the system where he will, in camera create like different folders for all the different like he'll set up a folder structure on his card, say he'll be taking up the entire swim team at the swim meet, right. So he's got 20 swimmers coming up, he has like a whiteboard. And he puts all their names and like this key number, and they they step up the line, they hold up the sign that has their name, and like they're folding them on it. In camera, he he puts that athletes files in that folder on camera right at the end of the meet, he has his card filled with images, all the things are in different folders. Because he's using photo mechanic, he uses this system of like code replacements and variables, where photo mechanic copies those files over it knows which folder, all the images in. It uses the code replacement file that he set up in advance to assign the name of every athlete to which folder they're in. He completes that that ingest from the card, you know what, whatever it takes up to three minutes. Every single image as is copied is then tagged with the athletes name and all the information about them and like whatever their you know, contact information is it blew my mind when I first saw this, this his process that he that he does is very extreme. But the one takeaway I would say is doing a little bit of prep work before you get going on your editing, having a sheet that says this is the information I want to keep track of from the sheet. Maybe it's location, maybe it's maybe these are the keywords that I want to use. Do I want to know what like do I want to remember what camera my settings whatever, like what is what is important to me. And if I think of that before I do this ingesting and calling process, and I'm able to put that information into the files, as they're copied over from the memory card just makes everything else after you do that work so much faster. 

Michael Der  22:47  
Right? Well that I'd love to lean into that because like it reminds me of just the metadata in general, what is a well prepared image look like to you from a metadata standpoint, what information needs to be attached to every image if you're just starting out?

from a very general standpoint, I would say captions, keywords and copyright information. Like that's kind of an alliterative way to remember, you know, keywords, captions, copyrights, like those three things for me are like the core of it all. I then go further I have, like I use the title, object name field, and I upload it to flicker. Anything that I have as a keyword in flicker, picks that up and puts that as the tags on the image. It takes the title name and makes that the title of the post on flicker, and the caption field goes in the description. So with all those things with, you know, the caption is up there, the copyright is also in the gun on the long side, and the keywords show up as tags.  For me, that's the that's the basic. 

Michael Der  23:44  
Yeah, and there are a lot of areas that you can fill in information from. So it's good to have a condensed version of what are the essential ones that everybody needs. And you can make it as sophisticated as you want to or as simplified as you want to I suppose one of the other things that I've never taken too much advantage of, but I was interested in is structured keywords. Can you elaborate on what that is and how that might help your SEO or just your own searching? 

That's a great question. So structured keywords are controlled vocabularies. It's a system where if you use a keyword, say, Doberman Pinscher, you're taking pictures of dogs or you're taking pictures in Prague in the Czech Republic, and you select from a controlled keyword vocabulary, Doberman Pinscher, it sees that Doberman Pinscher is a dog. It's also an animal, it's also a mammal. And it has all these associated like hierarchal like going up the chain all the way to, you know, Animal, mineral, mineral vegetable. So if you have that structured keyword, when you pick the last one, it automatically adds all the other categories that it belongs to, you know, this way of keywording is certainly dependent on what your end goal is. So these aren't necessarily they're not written into photo

Michael Der  25:00  
mechanic by default, these are kind of vocabularies or hierarchies that you kind of have to import from other sources. You can either build your own like you can say, okay I'm I'm I shoot Motorsports if I tag an image say BMW i want to also be tagged car right you know race car four door coupe, what however you and you can build this whole structure the so that can speed up your keywords that way you don't have to think, what are the synonyms for this do I call it is it car and automobile like yeah, like you only had to make one choice and it kind of gets it as long as you build that structure. Now, it takes a lot of work to build a controlled hierarchy or structure keyword schema from scratch. And that's why there are some third party sites that will help distribute those or you can make one for your organization, if you're like an editor, you can build this and then distributed to all your photographers using photo mechanic and then they have access to that. And that's something you can also build up over time. If you're just one person and you want this kind of structured keyword hierarchy, your first shoot, you can build a structure for just the dogs in that shoot of the cars in that shoot. Next one, add it to the same vocabulary, instruction keywords, the next time you shoot the same content, that will still be there. So you could build it up over time, as well. I think it takes a little bit of upfront work as you do this. But then as you build it a couple years down the line, and you've covered all the scenarios that you're likely to cover, then it goes into much more much more quick. 

Speaking of code replacements, I know this is something that a lot of sports photographers use. Do any other photographers use code replacements the same way? I mean, do wedding photographers use it to photojournalists use it? Or is it pretty much just a sports photography thing? 

Anyone can use it? Like I use it for concert photography, now you do Okay, um, especially if I'm if especially if I'm at a festival, you remember band stage names, you know, there's eight different stages. Yes, the whole schedule, you know, if I'm at a festival, I might not even know all the bands, particularly I'm going to go shoot, if I had if I build a sort of code replacement file in advance that has even just like the different stages, like if I look at an image, say from Coachella, yeah. And I see the stage, I know what stage that is, even if I don't know the band. So if I go Oh, I know this stage was the Mojave stage at 5pm. I can tell what band that is. Gotcha. So I might build a code replacement file that says Like, Mojave five, you know, the 5pm, I just say mo j five won't be my code replacement. And then it will fill in that band name that was on the schedule for that time. And then so if I'm writing my caption, and I say this is going off to my editor, that that will fill in. And then I don't have to like keep flipping back and forth like, Oh, I have my schedule. Because I used to what I would do is I would have the schedule, I would tape it up next to my computer and start looking at timestamps and like, Yeah, what band was that again, and like, like I got it done like a hard working photographer. And part of that hard work was doing this kind of meticulous stuff for a mechanic just allowed me to combine all that stuff into one step and make it easier. 

Michael Der  27:47  
So I'm interested, you got me thinking about your workflow process, shooting content, photography, walk me through that process, you start off maybe first, before you even go to the event doing your code replacements?

 yeah, I'll take because I have a schedule in advance what's there. And I'll do code replacements that for like, for example, the Coachella Coachella Festival, I'll have like all the stage names, and that the time slots sometimes the templates don't match up specifically with our so I maybe I'll just say one through seven or something where that's there's seven slots in the thing. Depending on how the schedule is organized, I will build this card replacement file. And that code replacement file will also have keywords in it. But I'll make a template in photo mechanic that says whenever you copy this image from the memory card, right, the folder that it was in in the camera or put the timestamp or stagger my ingest, it will say every file from this ingest puts the stage name in the keywords. So I don't even have to look it up on site. Maybe I'll do like a multistage ingest, like all the all the files from the Mojave stage, all the files from the Sahara tent, that sort of thing. That information will just be in the keywords and then I'll have everything in one contact sheet. I will see the keywords right there. And I can go okay, I can select all the ones from the Mojave. And I can then go through and say Oh, I know that was the first slot seconds out. So I will add those keywords to those images. Then I'll just go through and call and I'll just go like, make start making my thing like bam, bam, bam, maybe then at that point, I've experimented then adding a color class like these are the ones I know I'm taking into post process. Yep, I've now started to realize I just like Camera Raw, like can do everything that I can do in Lightroom. But I can do that in-camera. And it just seems faster for me applying different presets I have or if I edit an image that I like I can save that edit from like the first one and apply it for the rest of the group there. Then I'll have those edits in photo mechanic as psds. At that point, my editor at the time who was working would say like I need JPEGs size to like 1600 pixels. In photo mechanic I can select my like 35 selects from a day shooting, call up the upload in front of mechanics I FTP these images to my editor I can have in front of me kind of resize them over 1600 can add in the captions that I had in there. Some edges like don't want any metadata as part of the file if they want to add it themselves. It will rename the file

Michael Der  30:00  
As they're being FTP, so I can say I can have it say, put in photographer's name, underscore, date, underscore frame number, and it will rename the file on the fly, it doesn't create copies that I have to keep track of, it will convert the PSD to a JPEG. So I don't have to like worry about creating another copy there. And if I needed to add, like if I was doing this for something for social media, I might put a watermark, photo mechanic can add the watermark again, not creating a copy just as it's transferring the file, then I'm then I'm good to go. Then I'm still doing my own personal archives just have the psds from like my selects. 

Gotcha. Yeah, that seems like a very good and fast way to do it. As opposed to, you know, I use Lightroom. Instead of creating a new export of specific sizes, you can just FTP those. 

That's the thing. Yeah, I used to spend like I we used to have to like get all my slacks, then I would export out of Lightroom at a certain pixel size, yeah, then I would have those into file on my computer. And that would open up my FTP program, send them I would go had to rename them because they all want the specific file naming. And then I would have this like, duplicate set. So then if I went back six months later, I say, Oh, one of the files from you know, April 2012. And I won't find the original raus, I would find that like the PCs, and then I would find the JPEGs. And I was like, Wait where like I need to I just want the original like PSD or the original raw like I don't. And keeping track of all those copies ended up being a big headache for me. Yeah, the fact that I can now do this step and not actually create copies first just keeps me much more sane. 

Michael Der  31:27  
I'm curious about the cropping tool. I know you can use this in photo mechanic, how do you make sure that one image is going to be cropped, and that version is going to be sent. Sometimes I've seen this happen where you FTP something, but it sends the image that in full without the crop.

 photo mechanic generally doesn't do any pixel type editing. But what it can do is do a soft crop, okay, where there's a cropping tool and photo mechanic, I can say, Okay, I want this cropped, it will set this rectangle at this angle at this particular pixel location in the file, it writes that into the files metadata. Now, where you send that file, it's up to them to sort of read the image, a lot of places that you might send, the file might not even be set up to look for cropping information in the metadata that just aren't ready for it. They're not looking for crop information. I know for a fact Lightroom does get looks at the images, oh, we have information on a crop. And we're going to draw this crop in Lightroom. And then you'll see it when you when you open it up in Lightroom. You'll see that crop that you did, yeah, some might not be. And that all depends on the post processing software you're working, you can understand like they weren't expecting crops, like they're not used to people bringing in previously prepared images. So that's that's why that might happen to you. 

Michael Der  32:32  
Okay, photo mechanic plus has been out for a little bit of time. Now, what is different between photo mechanic plus and the original version?

 photo mechanic plus is basically it's everything that's photo mechanic is it's the same program. But there's an additional tab that becomes a search interface for image databases and photo mechanic can scan your entire hard drive all the folders on it, you can plug in external drives, backup drives, it can scan the whole drive, and it will create an image database of everything, all these drives in these folders, all the tools, they have a photo mechanic for working with like one take, like if I shoot shoot one day in the desert, I come through photo mechanic is generally thought of as you work with those files once and then you move them into your archives or wherever. And then you might not kind of need to manage them. If you need, you can use photo mechanic to go back and search specific folders. But in terms of doing things on a large scale with all your images, generally you wouldn't use photo mechanic for that. You wouldn't use photo mechanic plus, okay would create an image database of all your images. And then you have all the same tools a photo mechanic in terms of adding metadata to file names, adding captions, being able to copy and work with files and do ratings. But on a much larger scale, not just one folder, but entire drives of images. 

Michael Der  33:46  
And talk to me about the difference between catalogs and collections. Can you tell me what the differences between those and and how they are used? 

Yeah, catalog is basically a large group of images, whether it be like everything from hard drive be everything on my own, you know, main hard drive any any subset of and then a collection would just be I will have like I can search for every file on, you know, across all my drives tagged music. Oh, I would have 14,000 images. Yeah. And like I say, oh, but now I will go up into the corner photo mechanic select only the four and five stars. And that will say now I want this to be my collection where if anyone says like, oh, could you show me like your best work, like I want to see a selection. I can add that to a collection. It's kind of just like a way to manually organize stuff and things in photo mechanic into chunks that you might need for further use. So like I wouldn't use collections or something like that specifically, because I can always save a search for things tagged music with four or five stars and like a green color class. But if let's say I want someone says, Oh, I want to see all your best images that also include images, you know of fans or something that doesn't so maybe they're not tagged music, I can add things that don't show up in a specific search and put that in a column selection so that it's not it's kind of like curated by me, not just the metadata. That makes sense. 

Michael Der  35:05  
Okay, you're a photographer yourself. You've talked to a lot of professional photographers, you've seen the pain points of their workflow. What feature do you think is maybe most loved by the working pros? And what feature do you think, is the most requested by photographers that photo mechanic wants to add in future updates?

Well, I think historically, I mean, the easiest answer is just the raw viewing the fast raw view. And then using catalog in photo mechanic plus, we've opened a contact sheet with actually a million images. And I can scroll through all those. So just the ability to look at images very quickly, flipping from one to the next. That's kind of the core feature. That's what draws people to photo mechanic to begin with, 

Michael Der  35:47  
what do you find photographers are asking for? What are they missing out of this? 

That's a? That's a great question. A lot of folks, there's different ones. A lot of folks want to be able to use this for video clips as well. The issue there is that there isn't like with photos, and in single image files. There's this broadly accepted global standard iptc metadata for, like, where does the keyword go in this file? Where does the person shown go in this metadata like this has been for years and years developed, there doesn't exist the same schema for metadata for video files. So people who use video haven't gotten in the habit of using it. So they do create different folders or different ways to organize. That's completely different from the way you might organize still photos. So that's, that's something that we're looking at, like how we would do. Then the other thing is folks are looking for some sort of mobile solution to be able to evaluate and maybe do at least a pre color or pre run through images on like a mobile device, whether that be an iPad, or whatnot. 

Michael Der  36:42  
Now, do you think that's going to come anytime soon? Or is that like, pretty far away? 

far away. I understand the need for it. But like finding out the one thing that's actually going to work, a lot of people have tried this, there have been apps out there for this sort of thing. And no one's really hit on like how this would work in practice with a lot of raw files. First of all, how am I gonna get 300 RAW files or 500 RAW files to my brain exactly in a way that I can now create sidecar at metadata files, like using Apple's File Manager, like it's, there's not the way to do some of that stuff quite yet. Now you can, at this point, like I've started trying things on like a Microsoft Surface, which you know, runs a full OS, and can do that stuff, you can start to do this on something like a service tablet, where it runs a full operating system, the UI isn't tailored quite yet for touchscreen, but it is possible. So I think we might start trying to refine that. But it's probably a little bit away before we can fully tackle that. 

Michael Der  37:39  
What do you think, is the most consistent mistake that you see photographers making in their workflow? 

I don't know about mistakes. But I noticed that people when they were they keep themselves artists, as they'd love to do it in folders, right? They love to create different folders for different things. And when I see them, even folks that are using photo mechanic, they will go into finder or Windows Explorer and start like saying New Folder, rename folder, like by hand, like for 10 folders, like yeah, name is what I type in select. So they type in, like photo mechanic can kind of automate that for you. Like, you can select a group of images and photo mechanic, hit command y, and it will have a copy dialog that you can then keep presets for different folders. In my when I see this, I think if you could get used to doing that folder mechanic, it would save so much extra time, 

Michael Der  38:27  
right, because there are making work harder for themselves, right, they're creating more folders than they need to? 

Well, being in Finder is like going up to new folder and it says like untitled folder, and then just like select a new type in the name, right? Like these are just things that take a lot of steps that we don't think of like when you say when I tell someone make a folder, they know how to do it, they don't think of all the steps that it takes to do it because it's a natural process for them. When if you could take away some of those, like hidden steps that you're not even thinking about just makes it faster. 

Michael Der  38:55  
Exactly. And then Are there any other features in photo mechanic that may not be widely known, but would be great features to highlight things that you would bullet point as, okay, if you can do this shortcut, the shortcut and the shortcut you're good.

 Not everyone's gonna need this, but I'll share one with you that I'm that I found particularly fascinating. So wedding photographer, yeah, especially like, you know, serious wedding photography studios might have a primary photographer, but also a number of second shooters going around and taking pictures with ceremony. Don Davis of Bob and Don Davis, she told me this story. So you'll have you know, three or four photographers covering the same event that she will then be tasked with editing all their photos right. And she wants to organize them by time so she can kind of like go through the ceremony now. But second shooter number two, maybe didn't set the time in their camera. Like their camera still says 2008 or something photo mechanic can batch adjust capture dates and times in a relative manner where you only have to like say fixed one and it fixes everything from that take to reset the time to some new things.

Now, normally you would do this by say, telling your photographers take a picture of a camera, or excuse me take a picture of a clock. Yeah, or your phone or something to get the time. But if you can remember to do that, you're probably already going to remember to change the date and time on your camera. Right? Right. What dawn did this was, this blew my mind, she will dump all the pictures into one folder, open up the contact sheet, it will have all the images from like the person who didn't set the camera. But since everyone in everyone on staff is supposed to take picture of the first kiss, she can go through find the image of the first kiss from like the offending photographers images, find the first kiss from someone who did have their camera set sync those two images and it fixes all the timestamps on all the other images in one step, she can correct this, based on that one event, the first kiss, just doing that in one step kind of fixes her whole thing. And like, that was very clever. And I thought that was a, I need to make a video of that happening. Because being able to describe this, I don't know if it comes through. 

Michael Der  40:59  
the concept makes sense. And I deal with this too, because sometimes I always shoot with two cameras, maybe sometimes three. And every once in a while maybe one is off like I didn't set it to the right timezone. And the other ones are or what?  Exactly, you know, exactly. So you have things that are an hour off in terms of sequence. And so to adjust that through photo mechanic, that's a great feature. 

Yeah, it's it's in the Tools menu, it just adjusts capture dates and times and you select a group, you find one that you know what time that should be? And it just based on the relative time step, we'll fix all the others. 

Michael Der  41:35  
Yep, exactly. This is been great Mick, I appreciate your time. I know a lot of young photographers, who have told me that their workflow is basically nonexistent. So I always say this is the first place that I would start, you know, go here, there's a free 30 day trial for the software. So you can give that a run if you've never used it before. I also do want to add camera bits offers and educational discount to accredited schools and their current students, educators and employees. So if you want or need more information, just go to camera And then lastly, like I mentioned before, if you fall asleep reading manuals, like I do, check out camera bits on YouTube, I really love the short form educational content that you're producing. Please keep that up. I know you've done a lot of talking already, Mick. But is there any last words that you'd like to leave the floor is yours. 

Um, I would just say photo mechanic can be very complex. It's a very robust piece of software that we've spent 20 years adding new features to it can be very intimidating, especially for new folks, I totally get that. The only thing I would say is if you want to be a very efficient ninja with your workflow to like, do things as fast as possible as fast as like a sports photographer on Super Bowl Sunday. The key is kind of doing a little bit of prep work beforehand, getting your thing set up understanding the information that you're going to need. If you put in the legwork, and obviously this is like life advice or anything you do in life. If you do have to spend a little time setting up the preparing and getting in the right mindset, it's gonna make it better. It's hard I get it it's hard to build up habits build up constructive habits, but if you can get in the habit of doing some prep work, it makes the rest of your life as a photographer so much easier. You'll stay sane or you'll stay more organized. And you'll just at the end of the day like we hear people say fun a mechanic gave me my weekend back yeah because all this stuff and I'm Exhibit A for this like I would like like I said I would be in the car driving back from the desert in traffic like with my laptop, I see going okay, I need to take keyword these files, I need to like get these in here. Now like something that used to take me hours, takes me minutes. Now I'm back there shooting or at least able to relax between in my downtime and recharge and then then I come back into the next day shooting. I know I've got everything taken care of I don't stress that frees me up to like focus on my imagery focus on my craft a little more. And like I said, it's it's a cascading effect that makes your whole life just feel less stressful and better. 

Michael Der  44:00  
Yeah, I can absolutely attest to that. I mean, I have occasional PTSD about working with Adobe Bridge 10 years ago trying to figure out a system and having nightmares about working for any client because I couldn't manage the back end Yeah, and so my process now is so much more simplified because of photo mechanic it's made me faster at my job better at my job. And I do want to thank you in the folks that camera bits for providing our audience a chance at winning a free version of photo mechanic or photo mechanic plus I don't have any details just yet at the time of this recording but if you follow us on entrepreneurs pod I will be posting something on how to enter in for that drawing. So be sure to follow us there make this was just wonderful for you to jump on that I appreciate your time I'd love for our audience to connect with you and the camera bits team so where can we find you guys? 

Well is where we make photo mechanic we're the company behind photo mechanic. Some folks mix up the two names that's totally fine as long as you come to a camera bits you can get photo mechanic me on red fishing boat on Instagram, red fishing boat calm has a few things from my Photoshop.

Because I love photoshelter Like I said, I use Flickr a lot you can find me on there as well. That's, that's more just kind of personal neighborhood stuff. But yeah, that's, that's where I'm at. I'd love to see other people's images if you know if you if you have any concert photographers, especially like I'm always hungry to see other people's work, so I'd love to check anyone else's out. So yeah, 

Michael Der  45:19  
awesome. Well, there you have it, folks. That's going to wrap up our episode 20 of Artrepreneurs. We will be back next week with new content launching every Friday. Thank you once again to the fabulous Mick orlosky for jumping on the pod and to everyone else for tuning in. My name is Michael Der Have a great rest of your day and I'll catch you next week.

Hey everybody, this is Michael Der thank you so much for making it all the way to the end of the episode. I hope you'll follow tag and engage with us on our Instagram account at Artrepreneurspod. We've also launched our website It is the central hub where you can sign up for our newsletter, read our blog posts, send us voicemails, and even access discounts from our amazing affiliates. It's also the perfect spot to shout out Artrepreneurs with what would be an immensely appreciated five-star rating and review. And if you're feeling extra generous, you can even make a small donation that's really going to help accelerate the growth of this podcast. But no matter what you do, folks, I just want to say thank you so much for supporting this program. There are a lot of great photography podcasts out there and I am just grateful to have gained your trust even for a moment. Take care everyone and see you next week.

Transcribed by



Photographer / Director of Marketing at Camera Bits

Mick is a freelance photographer in Portland, Oregon, and is also the Director of Marketing at Camera Bits. He enjoys photography, Portland Thorns soccer, and getting lost in 13th-century Icelandic literature.