The Wise Words of Lisa Lloyd

Picture-Taking Workflow Hints

Now you're ready to shoot. Here are some tips that will help you optimize your shooting time.


  • Set the camera's clock.
  • Always shoot RAW files unless you're short on storage space or unless you don't have (and aren't ready to pay for) software to convert the RAW file. Otherwise, you're throwing away considerable information in the image that can't be saved in a JPEG file.
  • Be sure quality modes are set as you prefer them. I suggest JPEG Hi for snaps and RAW for commercial or art.
  • Make sure you've set ISO and shooting mode to suit the situation you're most likely to encounter.
  • Turn off camera features that you don't absolutely need for the upcoming shooting session, such as the camera's LCD monitor, in-camera processing and special-effects, or auto-focusing (if you have a manual focus option and the time to use it without missing the shot). Any feature that requires the camera to make computed calculations before the shot is taken will increase shutter lag. The exception here is professional-level SLR (single-lens reflex) cameras, which rarely have any significant shutter lag in any mode.
  • Turn off red-eye reduction. It will make your subject blink just as the "real" flash fires. Besides, your image-editing software can do a better job. The exception to this rule is when you are going to automatically print (or have printed) your pictures without prior computer editing.
  • The image you see in the LCD can be misleading. Do a test exposure and check the histogram. If the histogram curve starts and ends at the very ends of the histogram (see Figure 1), you've captured as much brightness range as your camera can handle. If your camera's LCD can be adjusted for brightness, make the preview look like a properly exposed image.
  • Pop up your flash when shooting in bright sunlight, especially when shooting subjects that are less than 15 feet from the camera. It is a good idea to cover the flash with tissue or a diffuser so that the flash doesn't overpower the existing light or cast a hard shadow of its own.
  • Re-format your cards in the camera as soon as they've been downloaded in the field. Do not reformat your cards on the computer -- you may risk making the card unreadable in your camera.
  • When you return to home base, immediately download the pictures from your camera or portable hard drive to your "workhorse" computer (see Image Organization Workflow, below).
  • The camera will automatically number each photo it takes (and should do so without duplicating those numbers when you reformat or change a card). Note the image number of critical photos. A pocket recorder is a great help for noting those numbers and a description of the subject as you shoot. Later, this will help greatly in helping you to find and rename your images and when you correspond with the subject or client.