My 2014 photography workflow

A recent episode of Mac Power Users inspired me to write this, not only as a way to help other people who are dealing with this problem (which only increases in scope with every new device we buy), but also to pose questions that I’m trying to deal with. How do we store, view, edit, and share our photos? Each one has a vast series of issues. But I think I’m close to cracking it.

So. I don’t have a Mac or an iPhone, but I have owned both in the last 15 months, so I don’t think I’m too out of the loop. I own a Windows 8 laptop (the Acer S7) and a Windows Phone (Lumia 920). My dedicated camera is a Canon G12 from 2010, which I’m using less and less over time, but still on a weekly basis.

Now, I believe the first thing to do with important files (and photos are probably the most important files we have, since they cannot be reshot later) is to adhere to a solid backup plan.[1] My photos are backed up in two online locations, Flickr and Skydrive. Skydrive syncs to my local PC, which is backed up with an external hard drive.

With Windows Phone, you can set your settings to back up any photo you take to Skydrive. It saves it in a camera roll” folder, which you can then move to any structure you like[2]. It uploads the photos in full resolution (it did not do this with WP7, and doesn’t do with with the Lumia 1020’s 38mp shots), but only when I’m connected to wi-fi.

As well, Windows Phone allows you to pair certain apps to auto-upload photos, so I use 2flicka, which automatically uploads full-res photos to Flickr (I use the private setting, but this can also be done publically). It doesn’t do this right away, instead only when the battery is 90% or higher, plugged in, and connected to my home wi-fi.

As for my Canon G12, the photos I take get plugged into my PC and manually imported into the corresponding folders on Skydrive. I then upload them to flickr. It’s more work, but I take fewer pictures with the Canon, and when I do it’s often either just a one-off or a full event.

I use Skydrive instead of dropbox for both the auto-uploading feature and the storage. Basic Skydrive accounts begin at five gigs instead of Dropbox’s two, and upgrades are easy and plentiful. From Office 365 to Windows Phone’s enthusiast bonuses, I currently have over 60 gigs of Skydrive storage without paying for it. If you want to pay, it costs half of what Dropbox charges.[3]

Now, you might think this is a good workflow for Windows, but nothing I’ve done here can’t be done with just an iPhone. Skydrive’s iPhone app offers the same auto-upload functionality, and I’m sure there are Flickr apps on the iPhone that do as well. If not, there are various IFTTT recipes on the iPhone app that will happily sew together these services.

The upside of this routine is that you can absolutely treat either Skydrive or Flickr as the home” of your photos, with the other as a nice backup. And because Flickr is free, there’s no reason a family couldn’t do this with multiple accounts.[4] Skydrive also offers the same connected folder setup that Dropbox has, so couples or families could upload to a shared folder (which could sync on multiple computers).

The downside is that there’s no one” place for photos in this workflow. You could treat either Skydrive or Flickr as such, I suppose, but I sometimes have trouble figuring out which one to turn to for retrieval or sharing. It’s not really a problem of quality so much as duplication. As well, if you’re one to be fussy about meta-data, changing a photo in one service won’t change it automatically in the other, so you’d have to change it twice if you want to keep them at parity.

As for sharing, I have two IFTTT recipes that trigger when I make a photo public” on Flickr. When I flip that switch, it automatically pushes the photo to Facebook and Twitter with the title. It also saves them on those networks, so instead of the photo showing up as a link, it appears as if I’ve just uploaded it straight to the service.

Even if it has it’s little annoyances, it’s the best workflow I’ve come up with thus far, and leagues better than I had even half a year ago. Hopefully some of you can take what parts you find useful and make something work on your side, too.

  1. Mac Power Users also has a great episode on backups. ↩︎
  2. I use monthly folders inside a year for daily photos, and a seperate folder inside that year for events. ↩︎
  3. $50 per year for 100/gigs on Skydrive. $99 for the same on Dropbox. ↩︎
  4. Flickr allows for a family” and friends” privacy setting as well, so your photos could be visible to just those living in your house. ↩︎


January 6, 2014