When you return from a photo shoot with hundreds or maybe even thousands of images to review, you want the fastest way to jump right in and start reviewing them. There is one product that is acknowledged by working journalists as the fastest of them all and that’s Photo Mechanic. It’s just been updated to version.
Before starting to edit your photos, you want them all on your hard drive. You should never edit your photos on your compact flash or SD card. So, step number one is to “ingest” all the photos – meaning to import them all from your camera to your hard drive. Local hard drive or external hard drive doesn’t really matter. In truth, you’ll do yourself a favour to import them to both, keeping the external drive for an emergency backup.
How long it takes to ingest your photos will depend on quantity of course, but also it depends on whether you shoot JPG or RAW images – RAW is much larger and takes much longer. In either event, Photo Mechanic is regarded as twice as fast as Lightroom or Aperture in the time it takes to get your photos transferred and ready to edit. Now with version 5 you can set up your computer to auto-ingest whenever a card is attached.
Once your photos are ingested, next you’ll want to look at each one and decide which are keepers and which ones go right to the trash can. You can do this right from the contact sheet view, CRTL-clicking until all the bad ones are selected, then right click and select “Delete photo(s).” If you need to see the individual thumbnails larger for selection purposes, there’s a slider in the upper left to increase or decrease thumbnail size.
Now while we still have all our photos together from this shoot, it’s an ideal time to apply IPTC data to the group. This is where we will record our copyright data, photographer’s name and contact information, as well as information about subject of the photo, including location information.
If all the photos were taken at the same general location and at the same event, select all of them by pressing Ctrl + A. Next, bring up the “stationery pad” by pressing Crtl + I. Fill in the appropriate fields with your contact information and any information such as City and Country that is common to all the selected photos. I usually assign a non-specific general description to both the “Description” and “Headline” fields. Then apply all this information to the photos by selecting “Apply Stationery to Selected” which will write that information into your photo files.
Now from the keepers, we need to select the ones we plan to use out of all those we shot. This is where we will rate the photos. First, double click the first photo to get into the larger viewing window where you can see details. Photo Mechanic offers two ways to rate photos and I use both at the same time.
By pressing a number from 1 through 8, you can assign colour ratings to a photo. I use certain colours to mean “needs editing”, “add to my favourites”, or “possibly delete if not used.” I can also apply star ratings by holding down the Alt key and pressing numbers 1 through 5. If I like a photo enough to possibly use it, it gets a one. If I really am sure I want to use it, it gets a two. Outstanding photos get a three and so on.
Once I’ve rated my photos, I can then select all the ones I’ve identified for editing, by going to “Edit” and then selecting “Select Colour Class” for all those with that colour rating. I’ll export those to Photoshop for further work.
Once the best have been identified and edited, I’ll do one more round of adding more specific IPTC data to those before finally inputting them into my archive application (Lightroom) for long term reference.
The following video is from version 4, but the principles are the same. You’ll see a slightly different workflow, but that’s what makes the product so flexible…you can tailor it to your needs.
As you work with Photo Mechanic, you’ll discover what works well for you, but however you assign your ratings, you’ll be happy to know that you are working in the fastest reviewing tool on the market today.