Workflow :: Photo Mechanic to Lightroom to Photoshop to Delivery

(for a higher quality version of this screencast view the source file here.)

I. Love. Photo Mechanic. End of story. This one program has saved hours and hours of my post production time in the last six months that I’ve been using it. How do I use it? Well, as I state in the screencast above, I only scratch the surface of what it can do but just watch how fast this program is. I can not say enough great things about it. It is available for Mac and PC.

Read below for a $10 discount code on Photo Mechanic!

In this screencast I walk you through my process from start to finish. I have recorded, encoded, uploaded, and ditched this project three times this weekend with the third attempt being my final. Workflow and post production is far from being the funnest and coolest part of our jobs. There is only so much you can say or do to make it the least bit interesting yet it is crucial to our day to day jobs. The more efficient we can be in post production the more time is added to our lives.

Please note that I am not the end all be all workflow guru. Far from it. I do what I do and it works for me. I’m sure many of you are going to leave some comments here teaching me a thing or three about workflow and how I might skim a few more minutes here or there off of my time working with my images. I welcome that. Let this be a conversation about workflow instead of a teaching lesson coming from me.

I want to mention that the Lexar UDMA FW800 card reader I refer to in the video is currently on sale at B&H for $53.99.  That sale ends March 6th. That is more than $20 off the retail price! Do yourself a favor and pick up a few of these. You can daisy chain up to four of them per firewire port. I avoided these for a long time due to the price point but now that I’m using them I don’t know how I lived without them. I wish I would have bought them a long, long, time ago.

I also mention my tutorial on shooting on white seamless on this blog post. You can find the begining of that tutorial here if you have not already seen that.

Many of you asked on Twitter about my thoughts on LR 3, Aperture, and archiving. I can answer that quickly here. I have not really looked at LR 3 yet. I’ve read Kelby’s ongoing posts about new features and I’m excited to see it once it goes public … and … a few months after that since there are always bugs to figure out once a large update is released. I’m too busy to test new software, deal with glitches, and throw up my hands to only go back to what I know and wait for the glitches to disappear. I am interested in the new Aperture 3.0 since it can sync libraries between multiple computers. Aperture has always been a resource hog though. Not that LR is anything but 100% efficient but I only have one editing machine I feel could make the most of Aperture and I’m not convinced that I need to convert from LR to Aperture just yet. I know plenty of you use it and love it with a capital LOVE. I get that. Their brushes look far more intuitive than LR’s brushes. I typically can not afford to jump from application to application when I’m not convinced it is what I need. I was happy in bridge until I sat in a two hour workshop covering LR. Once I saw what it was capable of I switched from Bridge to LR. Maybe the same would happen if I attended an Aperture workshop.

As for archiving, I have decided that should be a post of its own.

For more information about the deeper features of Photo Mechanic, check out the great tutorials on

I hope you enjoy this screencast more than I did making it. :) Actually, it was a fun process until I watched the final, uploaded, ready to go versions before this and decided they were far, far, far too boring. I decided it needed 100% more hip hop and down tempo.  Side note – I’m now using Affix Music for my soundtrack needs. They are a new music licensing company who specialize in urban and electronic music. Their catalouge is growing and growing. Check them out. Would you all be interested in a discount code with them? Let me know and I’ll see if I can swing one. They are an amazing service!

BTW – Caleb sat next to me on this one and he wants you to tell me in the comment section if it was boring or not. :)

Photo Mechanic Discount Code ::

All you have to do is ask…. I called the good folks at Camera Bits, makers of Photo Mechanic, and told them I was doing a screencast based on PM and asked if there was some sort of discount they could offer all of you. They were more than willing to give me a code that is good for $10 off the price. You get to pay less than I did! In the name of full disclosure… I’m not getting anything from Camera Bits. This is not an advertisement. I pay for my software.

Call 1 503 547 2800 or email (sales @ camerabits [dot] com) to order and use the code PMzarias. This code is only good for emailed and phoned in orders. They currently do not have a promo code box when simply ordering online. This code is good until March 15th, 2010. (EXPIRED)

Cheers, Zack

PS – I know curves are a great way of dealing with exposure issues but at times, brightness and fill does the job for me. As with all things post production, there are 10 different ways to do the same thing. :)


  • Tim Rogan said on February 15, 2010

    14 minutes in and wishing you had moved your mouse pointer off to the side. (I find myself doing that too.) My brain kept telling me to move my mouse.

  • Andrew said on February 15, 2010

    I have been using PM for over a year now. It is amazing. I really enjoyed this. It gives me some insight to how to better improve my post production.

  • David Burke said on February 15, 2010

    Just about to watch the vid, I am sure it will rock. I was introduced to PhotoMechanic 2.5 years ago and it saved me from quitting photography. True story.

    I LOVE PM. LR and or Aperture are just the sprinkles on the icing.

    Cheers bro!

  • Tim Rogan said on February 15, 2010

    Love your jr. art director’s comments. Kids have a way of keeping you humble. Future guest host for your web site critiques? Great idea on the back and forth method. Hadn’t seen that before. Had to laugh at your initial go through when you said a couple of times you’ll have to work on it in post. All I could hear was your comment on the DVD about dope slapping yourself. Thank you for your commitment to teaching.

  • -april said on February 15, 2010

    Glad to find out that I’m not the only one who does PM->LR->PS

  • Jon said on February 15, 2010

    For me, this wasn’t terribly boring. :p Lots of helpful info here (for me anyways). Thanks, Zack, for being open and sharing!

  • Heather said on February 15, 2010

    I watched the whole thing! Part of it I listened to while I had my own Lightroom processing going. Very informative – thank you. I especially enjoyed the boring bits. :)
    When I was first starting out I wanted nothing more than to be a fly on the wall while some big shot pro just went through their boring edit work… You just want to know what’s so different about them by comparison to you. Putting this out there shows that the ‘big secret’ is nothing: you’re good at what you do. There’s no magic cheat – you do all the down and dirty stuff everyone else does: fiddling around, booing over your exposure, deleting shots that weren’t great… I think lots of people would be happy to see this (and maybe some people would be unhappy to see it, finding out there aren’t as many ‘quick fixes’ as they thought there were).

    It’s awesome: thanks for doing it! :)

    – Heather

  • Daniel said on February 15, 2010

    Loved the screencast. I was wondering though, how do you search your catalog if you ever need to find something?

    Are all your images kept in PM? Do you ever find yourself needing to find old images?

  • zack said on February 15, 2010

    Daniel – I’ll cover that in an archive post.

  • Heather said on February 15, 2010

    PS. Branded thumb drives: I hear more and more about this, and it intrigues me. Where are you getting yours done? Is it really cost effective by comparison to CDs with pretty labels? Inquiring minds want to know.

  • zack said on February 15, 2010

    Heather – We are going with this company.

  • greg said on February 15, 2010

    I found it very interesting. Nice job to the both of you and thanks for posting this up.


  • greg said on February 15, 2010


    Where do you get your branded flash drives?


  • greg said on February 15, 2010

    hit refresh before replying

  • Ty said on February 15, 2010

    Zach do you have another business you are moon-lighting? Googled the blog post after I saw it on Twitter.

  • zack said on February 15, 2010

    Ty – How in the hell does that happen?

  • EMaster said on February 15, 2010

    Thanks for taking the time for providing the backstage pass to your workflow. It really hit home about staring at an image too long as I’ve been driving myself nuts doing just this the last few days color correcting an indoor auto show shoot. Nice to see I’m not the only one. Thanks again!

  • Rich said on February 15, 2010

    Not boring at all!
    I thought LR was my saviour for allowing me to parse through all my images and get to the keepers… but wading through all the extras has proven to be annoying. Finding images is near impossible because keywording is a waste of time and never works right. Far more investment for anything saved.

    I NEVER thought of using a different program to weed through the images first, then to copy them to Lightroom as the edits. That seems like such an obvious solution. I drank the LR kool-aid a little too hard I think because that’s an issue it was supposed to help solve.

    Now I just have to figure out how I’m going to organize my catalogs and re-import any of my old keepers if I’m going down that road.

    It would be nice to select all of the edits from PM and pass them into a LR import without having to move a copy of them first though. I’m not keen on having the same image in 2 folders.

    You’ve got me thinking again Zack! Way to go!


  • Claus Jepsen said on February 15, 2010

    Thanks for not shortening this movie and showing us your whole process. I picked up a lot of good points, so I never feelt tempted to scroll on even it at times was a bit boring, but your son took care of those moments in a fine way.

  • Andrew said on February 15, 2010

    Very cool – but how do you get the mouse pointer to make the circle when you click?

  • Amanda said on February 15, 2010

    Very cool! Not boring at all.

    Thank you!

  • Lou said on February 15, 2010

    Great video, Zack. Good to see a full session of editing and culling. Just goes to show I need to get MUCH faster at both haha.

    And Caleb, totally not boring. And I’m about to fall asleep, but I watched the whole thing. 😀

  • Jay said on February 15, 2010

    Zack, great video. I really enjoyed the tips on Lightroom, especially the option key tip (I’m a new Mac user so I didn’t know about it). Thanks for this.

    Caleb, not boring at all. I thought the “Sloppy Joe” joke was actually quite clever. Nice job!

  • Ben said on February 15, 2010

    Thanks Zack, very much appreciated. Also appreciated was the interaction between you and your son, excellent.
    (And no, Caleb, it wasn’t boring. How did cleaning the kitchen go?)

  • Kenneth said on February 15, 2010

    Zack thank you for taking the time to create this video. Loved your teaching style and walking us through your whole workflow. I am looking forward to the archiving tutorial.

  • Joshua said on February 15, 2010

    I’m watching this as I go through my images for the day (Snow and Breath), and I’m lovin’ the PhotoMech! I found out about it through working as a photojournalist for its down-and-dirty speed, and I use it every time now.
    Great screen-cast and production once again, Zack!

  • Ryan said on February 15, 2010

    Thanks Zack. There was a lot of insight and good workflow tips. …and it was FAR from boring Caleb :)

  • Kevin said on February 15, 2010

    Thanks for the video and insights into your workflow and image management Zack! I am not sure I see any advantage of PhotoMechanic to the latest version of Picasa from Google (free) which I use exactly like you are using PM. The rest of your and my workflow is pretty much the same in tools and methods. I just find Picasa to be the right tool, intuitive, feature rich, and the price is right.
    Thanks again- your work is always providing me motivation.

  • Jessyel Ty Gonzalez said on February 15, 2010

    Pretty great video/tutorial. Could have been tightened a bit, but regardless, it was very informative and I picked up a lot of things I didn’t know before. I was sort of confused as to what PM did for you exactly, though; I realize you love it and didn’t go in-depth with it, but couldn’t see why you couldn’t pull off everything you did with just a Lightroom/Photoshop (and maybe Finder, I guess) combo. I’m sure we’ll find out later. Thanks for these – you do a great service to the photo community.

  • Claus Jepsen said on February 15, 2010

    Forgot to ask: why do you never use “Clarity”?
    I use it at all my pics. Specially pictures on a white background, because in my small studio it is difficult to avoid the light from flooding and thereby lowering the contrast.

  • zack said on February 16, 2010

    Claus – Sometimes I do use clarity. I kind of like it but I feel it isn’t needed for a lot of my work.

    Jessyel – “Could have been tightened a bit” – Hahahahaha! You should have seen the first take! Over two hours! OMG. The second run was an hour and a half. I’m glad I got the third down to an hour! :) There is no way I could have done my selection that quickly after import with bridge or LR. The rendering of previews is painfully slow for me. With PM I simply download the cards and look at the image without the need to render previews. When you are talking about 500, 800, 1,000 images or more on large jobs, that rendering process can be upwards of an hour of time. Not so with PM. Finder just isn’t a browser. You can get a quick preview but not like you can in PM.

    Kevin – Picasa is a pretty great app but I’ve run it side by side with PM and there is no comparison as far as speed for initial edit. But hey, it’s free right?

  • Kris Mitchell said on February 16, 2010

    Wow… a whole hour of useful insights. Many thanks for that – I’ve always been a firm believer in the tight edit, but you’ve shown me that maybe I’m not as tight about it as I could be. Thanks again for jumping through all the hoops in order to bring this to us.


  • Eben Yep said on February 16, 2010

    I really want to tell how you much I love you right now after watching your ScreenCast. Seeing how quickly you could work with your RAWs and get to the nitty gritty of just flagging/picking so quickly, then taking em to Lightroom. Being predominantly a freelance wedding photographer/2nd shooter myself I have assignments with 1000s of images that are now just hogging 8GB of RAM whenever I launch Lightroom. I haven’t even tried this yet and I can see the amount of RAM I am going to save. I also have to check out the flash galleries PM produces as well because the Lightroom ones are pretty heavy galleries in terms of resources, time to render, and overall endsize.

  • Eben Yep said on February 16, 2010

    BTW one more thing I saw one of my mentors using PM back in like 2005 because it used so little resources to process all the clients he was shooting. Now I can’t wait to purchase my copy!

  • Wes said on February 16, 2010

    Thank You Zack it was a great way to pick up tips on streamlining the multi-headed demon that can be post-production. Not Boring at all. Need to Get P.M. Thanks Again.

  • Jesse said on February 16, 2010

    Another epic lesson.

    I found it especially valuable, as I had not started using LR when I was at your Seattle OneLight last October. This really helped fill in the gaps in my memory. Also pleasantly surprised that CameraBits is located in my backyard. So will be pleased to support them shortly.

    Caleb, it wasn’t boring, partly because you were there to keep your dad on ground level. Y’all must be a riot around the dinner table.

    Peace, -J

  • Frank said on February 16, 2010

    Thank you Zack…. as always.. you are a big help and inspiration to us….

  • jilske said on February 16, 2010

    Sorry to disappoint Caleb, but I watched it all in one go, about as boring as the episode of Twin Peaks where you find out who killed Laura Palmer! Though the jokes could’ve been funnier :p
    Now, questions:
    a) I wonder what you used to organize your files before PhotoMechanic and the daisy-chained Lexars?
    b) Amazing to see how responsive LR is for you, what hardware are you running? I wish i could go cold-warm-cold-warm, but on my machine it’s more like cold (let’s make a cup of tea), nah that’s not it, warm (read some blogs) etc.
    c) In LR, using the grayscale toggle thingy, with blue it seems to create a lot of noise in the image. Ever had that? Is there another way to convert to B&W still?

    That’s about all for now :)

    Thanks soooooooooo much!

  • zack said on February 16, 2010

    Jilske – a) I’ll talk about that when I do an archive post.
    b) MacBook Pro with 4 gig of RAM.
    c) Yes, the blues get noisy very quickly. If I see that happening in LR and can’t get it under control with the B&W conversion panel, I’ll give it a try in PS. I usually find that to typically happen if the blues have been underexposed too much.


  • Ned said on February 16, 2010

    Loved it…you are fast…I am slow…off to contemplate why I suck…

  • Simon said on February 16, 2010

    Great video Zack, thanks! I had never even heard of Photo Mechanic until I started working for a press agency a couple of years back. Since then it’s never left my workflow, don’t know how many hours it’s saved me.

    Quick question with the thumb drives – do you lock or protect the files on them in any way before providing them to the client? Just thinking in case they accidently delete the files from the drive or somehow use it for something else and end up wiping it.

  • zack said on February 16, 2010

    Simon – I do not lock the files on the thumb drive. I hand it to the client and look them in the eye and remind them that they need to back these images up onto a few different computers or hard drives. Luckily, many of my clients are musicians and they are used to backing projects up and understand what I’m saying. That said, I usually get an email every 4 to 6 weeks from someone who has lost their photos and needs a copy again. I always archive the final edited photos so it usually isn’t a problem to then FTP them the images again.


  • dtbsz said on February 16, 2010

    Liked it. Didn’t bore me. Nice background music. What was the web address again? :)

    Thumbs up!! :)

  • Ian MacMichael said on February 16, 2010

    Thanks for the time given to this, really helpful!
    Cheers mate

  • Joost said on February 16, 2010

    Thanks for the post, I mostly liked it because it assured me I’m not the only one shooting tons of pictures and only ending up with a dozen or so.

    I too use picasa (photoviewer) for this kind of thing, it allows me to scroll through large pictures quickly and open them directly in photoshop. And it’s free…I love that (being Dutch and all). Picasa also allows the rating thing, though I never used it since I just open all the pictures I like (not having enough jobs allows for that).

    Thanks again for sharing.

  • Justin said on February 16, 2010

    Bobby Ray! Thanks for posting this… I have been worried about my workflow and this helps as ton… B.O.B!

  • Nev said on February 16, 2010

    very cool. I love how fast you can go through the pics.
    Curious though, what is your Mac specs?
    Im on PC (yeah, could be why things seem slow in the first place) but considered getting a mac to update my processing station.
    Mechanic seemed to really give some speed to the whole process.

  • Al Kendall said on February 16, 2010

    Hi Zack, thank you so much for your post. I have a question about the camera calibration setting in lightroom, I noticed you use the adobe default camera setting. Have you looked at the individual camera settings? They replicate any in camera settings and for me seem to reproduce more accurate colours right from the word go, especially greens!

  • zack said on February 16, 2010

    @ Al – I have experimented a few times with individual camera settings and have had mixed results. It’s one of those things that I need to dedicate more time to tweak it but when it comes to having more time, I just don’t have much of it. I’m hoping to demo the Xrite system soon and spend a few days on really drilling down on my LR settings.

    @Nev – For the screencast I used my 1 year old MacBook Pro. It has 4 gig of ram.


  • Jim Poor said on February 16, 2010

    Super video.

    1. Do you specifically avoid the WB tool in LR? I find it makes a good starting point for the back and forth bit.

    2. In your high-key videos from way back, I notice that you go back and forth calling up the levels adjustment. Have you thought about using a levels adjustment layer and leaving it dark while working on the layer below? That’s what I do and it saves some time.

  • zack said on February 16, 2010

    @Jim – I have not thought of using the adjustment layer. Good idea. I’ll give that a try.

    @James – Maybe. I love the 5d except for focus issues. The ONLY way I’ll ditch Nikon for good is if I can upgrade to medium format this year. I simply won’t need three systems. I’ll have to sell the Nikon to make the transition. I am keeping the Canon for HD video. That’s why I have it in the first place.


  • James said on February 16, 2010

    Great video Zack, thanks for sharing, but… Canon? You’ve gone Canon!?

  • Jessica Sweeney said on February 16, 2010

    I didn’t think it was boring at all! (Though I can see how Caleb might disagree.) Keep these videos coming, I really appreciated this glimpse into your workflow. Seems a hell of a lot quicker than mine!

  • Alen Abdula said on February 16, 2010

    Great review! And “CTRL+ALT+DEL should take care of your PC problems” made my day… LOLZ

  • Tyler Oxendine said on February 16, 2010

    Sorry to “kinda” be off topic but what reflector did you use for the outside shoots?

  • zack said on February 16, 2010

    @Tyler – My main reflector is an old Westcott. It is gold on one side and silver on the other but it’s falling apart and I love it. The gold is just sort of warm and this silver is almost like a white reflector but has just a bit more punch to it.


  • Bryan Lathrop said on February 16, 2010

    not boring at all. Interesting to see the parallels between our post production processing, although I haven’t yet boarded the PM train — been thinkin about it for awhile now. Very happy to have picked up those little option key tricks from you while you’re in Lightroom, super super helpful. THANK YOU, KIND SIRS. BTW I second that idea of having Caleb join as guest critiquer. Peace.

  • Katrin said on February 16, 2010

    awesome video :-) Which photo made it to the magazine? I’d love to see the final print. Thanks for sharing!

  • zack said on February 16, 2010

    Katrin – I’d love to see it too! I forgot to pick up a copy when it was out! I need to call and get a copy to see what ran.


  • Henry said on February 16, 2010

    Over an hour is way too long a video.

  • zack said on February 16, 2010

    Well Henry, at least

    A) didn’t see the first one which was over two hours long and

    B) have you ever watched one of those five minute workflow videos? Don’t get a lot of out of them do you?


  • Michael Sebastian said on February 16, 2010

    Zack, nice job as always. My workflow is mostly scanned-film TIF’s, but still a lot here for me to learn.

    Re Aperture 3: I’ve been trying the demo. It looks very sweet. More intuitive, and quite speedy, more so than my old LR2. I might even consider switching if there was a way to export LR catalogs to Aperture so that my cataloging structure, built up laboriously over a couple of years (since I laboriously exported it, previously, from Expression Media!) wouldn’t go by the wayside. That’s a deal-killer for me.

    Thanks much.

  • hd said on February 16, 2010

    thanks for taking the time to put this together, zack, big props for your generosity and willingness to share.
    others have commented and you’ve responded — but you really could have cut this in half again — what would be useful is more info about PM and less about your personal editing choices…

    just sayin’

    i LOVE PM and finally switched to it after slogging through editing with iView, now expressions media. READERS — PM is lightening fast, very easy to use at its most basic.

    zach – why don’t you ask PM to rename upon ingest? i do because i shoot with two canons and file names are sometimes the same…

    i edit in PM then bring the selects into BRIDGE where i color correct etc, and then use that to batch. so you can batch hundreds of pix and still have photoshop available while BRIDGE crunches the files.

    but — whatev — so many ways to skin this cat.


  • Brian Davis said on February 16, 2010

    First of all, I’ll say that Caleb is such a wise ass lol.

    Secondly, I didn’t think it was boring at all, I found it very informative and definitely gives me some ideas to streamline my workflow.

  • Luke said on February 16, 2010


    Thanks for posting this. As a beginner it’s great to be able to see a solid flow.

    Does anyone have good info on how to adjust for bags under someone’s eyes in either LR3 or A3? I’m really stuck on a fair skinned model. If you do, please drop me a line luke [dot] eaton [at] gmail [dot] com. I will be eternally grateful.

  • joseph tutlo said on February 16, 2010

    not boring, it was necessarily long-ish. and i think most photogs are geeky enough to hang on to every second that an established pro has to offer.

    it was nice to see what it is that i do similarly and beneficial to see what shortcuts of been missing.

    caleb, i do not take offense to the “sloppy” comment. because, ya know, i am. also, it’s nice to see star wars nerd-dom spreading to another generation. keep it up!

  • Joost said on February 16, 2010

    I didn’t think it was boring either.

    To those complaining: don’t watch next time, or get a ZPA (Zacks’ Premium Account) available at just $99,00 a month.

  • david said on February 16, 2010

    So simple even a caveman could do it. a Dork & Dork Production

  • Chad Wright said on February 16, 2010

    Thanks for posting the video. I had never considered Photo Mechanic before this but my Aperure library is getting way too large and very slow. Using PM would allow me to only import the images I needed for the job.

    You gave me something to think about.

  • Jeff said on February 16, 2010

    Thanks for posting this video, will be referring back to it in the future to get a good workflow going. It really helps immensely to see how other people do things.

  • David Walker said on February 16, 2010

    This post couldn’t have come at a better time. I photographed my brothers wedding over the weekend and I started processing them yesterday but started hit the usual color correction snag I have working in RAW. I never used camera calibration and now realize it’s one of the biggest missing links in my workflow! Now I can get my skin tones, white dress and black suits all to look right!

    Once again, you have produced an extremely useful screen cast for the masses. Thanks!

  • Jeff said on February 16, 2010

    Oh also I noticed in LR that you didn’t zoom to 1:1 on your pictures, do you typically not do that to save time? Also when you import into LR what size previews do you render?

  • zack said on February 16, 2010

    I typically do not zoom in at 100%.

    I tell LR to render standard previews for speed.


  • Dennis said on February 16, 2010

    Zack, I don’t see that much difference with photomechanic. If you import in LR, you can have LR make small previews (also the Embedded jpegs in your RAW’s). It speeds up the process significantly.
    Sure the multiple cardreader is nice, but does that count up to hours of saved time?

  • Tom Meyer said on February 16, 2010

    Thanks neighbor. What advantage do you see to naming the folder with the date first and then Job or Client name? Like 20100216-Bozo as opposed to Bozo-20100216? I am thinking Bozo first, because then each job for Bozo is chronologically ordered under “B”. Otherwise, when Bozo loses their files (that Bozo!), I need to figure if it was the Bozo shoot in January or the Bozo shoot further down the 2010 list in October, 9 months (and all those many jobs) later.

    PS: Love my white bi-folds… Tom

  • Dennis Bullock said on February 16, 2010

    Good stuff Zack! Thanks as always. I would like to hear about your web sharpening sometime.

  • Eric Rudd said on February 16, 2010

    Hi Zack,

    Love, love, love the tutorial. I really appreciate your time and expertise. I have learned a lot and can’t wait to dive into your site further.

    Now, for my next comment…I’m going to sound like an a$^*-hole. Zack, there is no such word as “heighTH.”There is “width” and “heighT.”

    It’s one of those things that drives me crazy!!! There. I said it.

  • zack said on February 16, 2010

    Ericth – Thanksth! I alwaysth geth thath mixedth upth. :)th


  • Darren said on February 16, 2010

    Hey Buddie!

    You are in luck! So far it looks like everything you do falls into Aperture 3.

    1. Import and archive. Check! (step saved from using PM)

    2. 4 star pictures. Check! (or you can create an album under a project with is awesome and non destructive and just as fast!)

    3. Bringing files to LR for soft edits is not needed anymore! Can be done faster and smoother in A3. Saved a step here, Check!

    4. Export to PS (A3 will create a sidecar file which is incredibly small) for editing. The program also allows for raw+jpeg importing which is nice.

    5. Batch Rename Files. Check!

    6. Export to Promotional Flash Drive. Check!

    Done! you just cut out PM from your workflow. I’m sure they wont like hearing that their program is pretty much a part of aperture 3 now but what the heck. If you want a cheaper upgrade then buying a new copy of A3 I guess it works!

    I will say this though. transitioning from LR to Aperture is not a quick ordeal. You need to learn how Aperture’s structure works and performs. Simply leaving your structure how it is and trying to import over to Aperture will hurt you in the end.

    Something nice though is that offers a few free training videos with Aperture 2 which give you a brief idea of how their structure works. And on a final note, Lightroom 3 is in beta right now so we will see if that is able to compete with A3. If it does then hold out for awhile!

    -Person who is testing A3 vs. lightroom.

  • zack said on February 16, 2010

    Darren – Two questions…

    Does A3 import multiple cards at one time? And, can I preview a shoot as quickly as I can in PM? Like, import and begin my selections within five seconds? Or is it more like LR where you import, render previews, then start your selections? Also, does the catalog grow and grow and grow and grow to the point that it starts running like crap like LR does?

    Most importantly though, can I plow through images on the first selection as quickly as I can in PM? If I can’t, then PM is not leaving my workflow process.


  • Rob said on February 16, 2010

    Great post. Thanks very much.

  • Chad from Jersey said on February 16, 2010

    Zack you always don’t have time but you take time to give back to your readers, fans, inspire your family etc.

    That is commendable my friend.

    PS Did you make it JMC’c Party in Vegas

  • Darren said on February 16, 2010


    I feel like I am talking to a celeb… I will try to find some information directly from Apple’s site so there is no interpritation!

    “Import images directly from cameras and storage devices

    CompactFlash I, II, and Microdrive
    Memory Stick and Memory Stick Duo
    Secure Digital, MultiMedia, and SmartMedia cards
    xD Picture cards
    Import from multiple cards simultaneously”

    Load time (from my experience) using a 1 year old Imac 24′ is really fast. That alone was the reason I left LR without question. The difference was night and day. Now is PM faster then A3? I will test when I get home and report! But compared to LR2 A3, I can’t even explain…

    On the catalog note, it does grow and grow like LR, BUT! (depending on your usage) you can clean it up a couple times a year. It is one of those set it and forget it options which takes maybe an hour or two at tops. Also if you want to keep your Aperture catalog down, just take your files that you don’t use anymore and archive them. You can access them later if needed, but they wont bog you down when not in use.

    Like the loading, I can plow fast… but it might be because I have a decent computer. I will do a side by side tonight, just give me a few hours.

    thank you,

  • Darren said on February 16, 2010

    I should add a few things though pros and cons (because it’s not a perfect program!)


    Auto Flickr/Facebook uploads. Switching between view modes (full screen tiles etc) is really fast. Pro but was a con at first was the projects/albums funtionality. This is what voids the need for PM. At first it seems frustrating to organize with, but in all reality you are just combining two programs. Stacking is faster then LR and more organizable.

    Don’t Loves…

    Meta Data is still archaic with any of these programs… it is very limited. If you want to know why/how just ask.

    Transitioning from LR to Aperture should be easier. If you are like me and want to do everything perfectly it took me a long time to research the right way to do it. I am going to try and make a video on this asap to save you guys a lot of frustration.

  • Daniel Sullivan said on February 16, 2010

    Zack, thanks for this. Your White Balance methods remind me of a very good Dr. Suess titles “Old Hat, New Hat”. You should pick it up for your baby.

  • Nas said on February 16, 2010

    Thanks for the tutorial Zack. Very interesting stuff.

    I’m curious, do you ever use ‘recovery’ in LR to bring back blown highlights?

    As someone who works in pre-press I’m astounded that your client requested sRGB files because they’d have to convert to CMYK before going to press and sRGB gives them a smaller colour gamut to work with.

    Anyway, I know that’s off topic, so thanks again for the vid.


  • james said on February 16, 2010

    Hey Zack….there’s lots of good karma headed your way from the universe!

    I appreciate how you take the time to REALLY show us blog readers how you do something.

    Plenty of other photog bloggers post “tutorials”, but I find that they are so brief that they raise more questions than they answer.

    With your stuff, you’re not afraid to show your whole process and it’s an amazing learning experience.

    You give out so much…you’re definitely going to get something back! (even though I know that’s not your goal, and you simply do it because you enjoy teaching!).

  • Mark Pakula said on February 16, 2010

    Pretty much exactly my same workflow, only difference I can spot is I dont use PM to ingest, i do a straight copy.

  • cypher said on February 16, 2010

    Thanks for the quick rundown on your post.

    props for the Skinny Puppy reference!

  • Martin M. said on February 16, 2010

    Hi Zack,
    I loved your “little” video. It’s nice to see a real Post Production in real (with breaks) time.
    Few questions.
    1. How many pictures can you get into Lightroom till it gets slowly. When I’m right you only put selected pics in it and nothing more.
    2. Do you ever use a graycard? or am I that kind of a noob. When I try the cool/warm methode at different days and times I get slightly different results.
    I Hop to see a lot more video’s on how you doing your stuff.
    I’ve learned a lot again.



  • MIke said on February 16, 2010

    Thanks Zack, it is greatly appreciated for you to put this kind of stuff together. Keep it coming if you can.

    @Celeb Not boring bud, go clean the kitchen champ.

  • Hunter said on February 16, 2010

    Thanks to Caleb for saving that one shot. I was screaming at the computer “don’t you dare delete that one”! You’re the man, Caleb!

  • Jonathan Payne said on February 16, 2010

    A couple of things really jumped out at me during this video; I tend to shoot a lot darker and I’m wondering if that’s to a fault. You really make use of the fill light and I rarely touch it. I would have really been interested to see the histogram in LR as you were editing these shots.

    Also, Zack, you have a kickin’ beard, you dress a lot more like a rock star than I do…so what’s with the, ahem, feminine panel flourishes in Lightroom? Why not choose the more masculine Tattoo or Atom offerings? Anything than the flowerdy (is that a word) looking panel decoration that comes default in LR. Anyway, just a thought to take your rock star status to the next level.


  • Terrence said on February 16, 2010

    Zack: Great video. Thank you for sharing. I learned a lot from the artistic/vision choices you narrated.

    Another ingest option is Image Ingester. It handles up to 8 cards at once and has a slew of options to customize that part of your workflow. It looks it can do a lot more than PM can for ingest, but of course it lacks the rest of PM’s great features.

    I just implemented a whole new archiving and backup scheme, so I am interested to seeing how Zack does it.

  • Alan said on February 16, 2010

    Thanks for the video Zack, your generosity in sharing your knowledge seems endless.

    Most of the information for me was familiar, either from my own learning or your One Light DVD, but the few new nuggets of info I picked up were well worth the time watching.

    It’s cool that you did that with your son too.


  • Nik said on February 16, 2010

    Thanks for sharing Zack, I learnt that I spend far too much time with my images after watching you at work.

  • carlos benjamin said on February 17, 2010

    It was either watch this or clean the kitchen…. I watched this. All the way through….. Not once was I tempted to clean the kitchen.

    The Option click on the sliders was something I’d forgotten. Thanks for that.

    I have a nephew named Kaleb (that’s how they spell it). I call him Kal-Eb, Superman’s nephew…. Hmmmm. What does that say about me?

  • Ian Bail said on February 17, 2010

    so much to learn, so little time… thanks heaps (again!)

  • Daniel Zihlmann said on February 17, 2010

    Great screencast, thanks Zack!

    Just a note. If you import into LR with the “sidecar & embedded” preview option, you don’t have to wait for previews too.


  • kent corley said on February 17, 2010

    Great job Zack. Caleb, not boring at all if you’re a geek… which is an OK thing to be.

    You’ve inspired me to re-evaluate my work flow when things slow down again. Though, I’m not sure the ZA method is appropriate for all this product work. One of the reasons I’ve stayed away from LR and Aperture is that they are resource hogs and I feel like I’m drowning in data sometimes… Looking forward to your archiving post also. The (option) levels bit was a great reminder too.

    Thanks again!

    PS: How many points for catching the Skinny Puppy reference?

  • Benjamin D. Bloom said on February 17, 2010

    Thank you, Zack! While I may not be sold on Photo Mechanic, the insight into your decision making process is priceless.

    The 5 minute tutorials may tell you how, but a longer video like this tells you why. Not boring at all.

  • David OS said on February 17, 2010

    Love the tutorial Zack. Especially the way you ‘scientifically’ do your colour balancing. Wanging the slider left and right till it just looks and more importantly, feels right, as neutral pops out at you. t’is brilliant IMO. Excellent stuff!

  • Louis Dallara said on February 17, 2010

    Awesome dude !

  • steven noreyko said on February 17, 2010

    Wondering why you don’t use any of the metadata tools in either PhotoMechanic or Lightroom as you ingest or add to LR’s catalog.

    I use PM to rename files and apply metadata on Ingest. That way ALL the images have a baseline of metadata which I can reference later if I go back to a shoot at a later date.

    It’s super easy to set this up and add basic copyright information and other metadata right off the bat.

    @Darren (#84) says the metadata is archaic with these programs – I’d like to know why he thinks that. PM and LR both support the IPTC Core XMP Schema. What’s missing?

  • Clary said on February 17, 2010

    Hooray Zack!! You are awesome…thanks for introducing Photo Mechanic to my workflow. I’ll be seeing you this summer is STL for OneLight!

  • Oliver said on February 17, 2010

    Great vid! girlfriend is watching some crap about vampires on the tv so i just had an hour to kill!
    you mention sharpening is only a real issue when saving for web. would love to know what your workflow on those final steps…

  • zack said on February 18, 2010

    Oliver – I resize for the web then use unsharp mask set to .2 or .3 pixels at 80 – 100%. Somewhere in that range.


  • Alvaro said on February 17, 2010

    Cool screencast! Thanks Zack, im following you! And of course is not boring!!! You save help us to save time, the most important thing : )

  • Ryan Scott said on February 17, 2010

    Really good post. You kept apologizing for it being boring, but I eat this stuff up. Thanks for putting it together.

    I also have a question about the thumb drives. I took a look at ipromo but don’t want to request a quote for nothing. Cool idea indeed, but that has to be much more expensive than burning disks, right? Do you give these out permanently or request that they are mailed back once the client transfers the files to their hard drives?

  • zack said on February 18, 2010

    Ryan – They are NEVER asked to send them back! Ever! They are a value added thing. Sure they cost more than a CD but who carries a CD around with them? Nobody. Who carries thumb drives around? Lots of people. I do!

    If you are shooting $25 jobs then thumb drives don’t make sense. If you are getting $250 or better though per job and part of your cost is delivering on a $7 thumb drive then that $7 isn’t too bad of a cost.

  • Darren said on February 17, 2010

    @ Steven

    I’m going to make a video comparing LR3 and A3, I’ll go into a brief explenation of what frustrates me about meta data. Just give me a few minutes I haven’t made a video before!

  • Sheila said on February 17, 2010

    Hi Zack!
    Just wondering what you use to calibrate your monitor?


  • zack said on February 18, 2010

    Sheila – I have Lacie monitors and I use their Blue Eye puck on those. I also have an old Monaco Optix that does an awesome job. So far I have been really happy though with the Lacie puck married up to their 526 monitors.

  • Chris Ward said on February 17, 2010

    I know this is the wrong post for this, but you brought up Affix Music. I am trying to get legal music to use when I create slide shows. I need a song for 1-5 CD’s (copies) at a time, and $60-100 is more than I can swing for something that I can’t charge that much for. I would love it if you could start a discussion on legal music that photographers can use.

  • damien said on February 17, 2010

    very cool. thanks for sharing.

  • Shafin said on February 17, 2010

    Thanks For the informative video, it was not boring at all. I have to ask you said you never use the luminance in lightroom to decrease the noise as it is not good enough, but I always use it as I don’t know any other way of reducing the noise in my pictures. If you use any softwares or methods could you please let me know

  • zack said on February 18, 2010

    Shafin – I don’t use any noise reduction software but I know that Noise Ninja is typically held up as the industry standard.


  • Darren said on February 17, 2010

    problem getting the video online. any suggestions? it’s only 80mb and 960×600. h264 format. I have my own server Zack any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I can re rip the video as well if need.

  • zack said on February 18, 2010

    Darren – I use and I love their service.

  • Simon said on February 18, 2010

    Thanks Zack, figured that would be the case – was just hoping you maybe had some mystical power over clients to stop them from losing/deleting/forgetting any final images you give them!

  • Colorado Wedding Photographer - JasonG said on February 18, 2010

    Zack… thank you. We love every video you produce! (hoping for more web critiques!)

  • Tom said on February 18, 2010

    I learned a few new tricks.

  • Oliver said on February 18, 2010

    thank you, zack! so cool of you to share all this info!

  • Eric Mesa said on February 18, 2010

    That’s awesome! Thank you so much for sharing. I always wondered about pro workflows.

  • Scott Coulter said on February 18, 2010

    Wow, that was super informative (and not at all boring). I have been frustrated with the slow import/preview speed of LR beta 3 on my ancient laptop. Before I started testing LR I was doing my import and scanning for selects in FastStone. Your hybrid method here looks like exactly what I need, and I can use the (free) FastStone in place of PM.

  • NIgel said on February 18, 2010

    Very informative, had been thinking of using a font end for rating images prior to import and seeing your work flow in action has just reinforced the fact that I need to implement something along these lines.

    As mentioned above in a previous comment will be very interested in seeing your archiving process and how you perform searches.



  • Jenn H said on February 18, 2010

    Amazing. I feel like I just sat through a workshop with you, I learned so much. I’ve been looking for a better way to do the initial culling process, this was fabulous. Not boring at all. *grin*

    And on top of all that, I got a shot of creativity looking at your epic images. Thank you for doing this!

  • Rodrigo Valle said on February 18, 2010

    Dear sir,
    Thank you for changing my life. I have installed a demo of PhotoMechanics, and it does EVERYTHING I ever wanted for browsing, sorting and organizing my photos, in a way that is completely intuitive. No manual, no help, nothing. Just common-sense keyboard shortcuts and unbelievable speed.

    I owe you one.

  • Gary Eddleston said on February 18, 2010

    I have just watched this an hour past my bed time and it was truly worth it.
    I love how honest you are with your photography and your video’s.
    This has certainly opened my eyes on how to try and improve my very poor Post-Production.

  • Carolyn Hampton said on February 18, 2010

    Thank you so much for this, Zach! I am incredibly grateful to you for taking the time. I watched it all and Caleb, it wasn’t boring! My work flow has been as slow as molasses, it seems, so I needed this help. I will definitely be following your tips.

  • Ole said on February 18, 2010

    great stuff like always.

  • Shaun said on February 18, 2010

    Post production is not boring when your shooting VS models… just saying.

  • Darren said on February 18, 2010

  • zack said on February 19, 2010

    Darren, can you provide a different link? That one isn’t working.


  • Ryan Scott said on February 18, 2010

    re:thumb drives Great points. I was just curious how you worked it. Makes sense to eat the small cost. The more I think about, the more impressed I would be to get receive my images on a branded drive rather than a disk. Very 2k10.

  • Ursala said on February 18, 2010

    Caleb, I did think it was a little boring, but only because, I’ve read the seamless tutorials. Also Zack…10 bucks a week, give that boy a raise…Damn!…How old is he, I’m guessing about 12ish (lol). I thought the thumb drive was cool too, they put your logo on the drive itself?

  • Raymond said on February 19, 2010

    Thanks for letting me look over your shoulder… definitely NOT boring!

    What a cool kid. What a cool Dad.

  • evan said on February 19, 2010


    Great stuff…so simple and efficient. I am not ready to spend the $$ on Pm right now but I did love your worlflow, I really dug your folder structure, if I only imported into LR how could I keep a similar workflow

  • Darren said on February 19, 2010

    strange. If you search blip for: aperture 3 and lightroom 3 there are only 2 videos that pop up. One is mine.

    Or to my direct link

    If that doesn’t work I am going to be pretty sad. It works for me but if not for you guys, I will go back to the drawing boards. I want to get this set up! If you could email me what process you do from start to finish to get a video up I’d really appreciate it.

  • TimR said on February 19, 2010

    What made it not boring at all was that it was an actual shoot for an actual client, plus some great and interesting photos. Sooooo much better than a generic tutorial. Thanks for showing it.

  • Barnas said on February 19, 2010

    Awesome videos!!! Not Boring at all!!
    Can’t wait for another video on archive section….Thanks for sharing this!

  • Ro said on February 19, 2010

    That was great. Thanks Zack!

  • Darren said on February 19, 2010

    Strange. I’m still getting the hang of this stuff. The was really good though. If you search aperture 3 and lightroom 3 my video shows up. I will drop a direct as well.

  • Adam said on February 19, 2010

    Zack- Golly dude, I can not express the vast help (and reassurance that I’m not totally screwed up {parenting or photography}) Quick question- do you export JPG’s from Lightroom and then re-open them in photochop (through photomechanic)as SOP, or do you typically move the processed raw file into photochop from LR? (as a dng or ??)

    Man thank you for this stuff from the bottom of my wicked little heart!

    And no it’s not boring. And kiddo, always always post production over the dishes…

  • lisa said on February 20, 2010

    Thank you so much for posting this Zack. I am still watching it… I’m curious how long the actual shoot with Bobby Ray lasted?

  • zack said on February 22, 2010

    @lisa – About an hour.


  • /\/\ark said on February 20, 2010

    Is the high quality version video/music, no Zack commentary?

  • linda kuo said on February 20, 2010

    Man Zack I just can’t get over how awesome you are. How can you stand yourself? THanks for the FANTASTIC blog post. NEVER boring I for one appreciate the entire workflow because I realize that they way Im doing it isn’t off the mark. And that when your exposure is off, how much back and forth and time it sucks up when you’re not consistent. Adorable having Caleb there. Question. What modifiers do you use (scrim/reflectors) out in the field? Can you offer recommendations and stand for someone with no scrim bitch? Thx!!

  • linda kuo said on February 20, 2010

    never mind. Got the answer to your modifier from #50. You’re awesome thanks for your overwhelming generosity.

  • sean said on February 20, 2010

    LOVE the idea of not burning dvd/cd.

    Do you have any sites that you suggest getting flash drives with logo/website on them?

  • Steve Perks said on February 21, 2010

    Thanks for taking the time to do this Zack.

    I picked up quite a few tricks, including playing hip hop in the background whilst PP’ing.

    Seriously…playing music whilst editing does help!

    PhotoMechanic is definitely the missing link in my workflow…off to buy it now!

  • moritz said on February 21, 2010

    Thanks a lot for this handy tutorial, and especially for making the source file available as well.
    In the windowlight photo I was noticing that you accept a big blown-out area in the background. I am hearing that this can cause trouble in printing, once there is no ink/toner on the paper and the area appears cut out. Do you do any post-post processing (cutting off levels etc) to prevent that or will the dtp people take care of that?

  • Stephen said on February 21, 2010

    Hi Zack,

    Another great lesson. Your teacher’s heart really shines on this one. And yeah, I LOL’d when I heard “CTRL+ALT+DEL should take care of your PC problems”

  • ardean said on February 21, 2010

    loved this.
    around 50:40 – so changing my process.
    so not boring. you are so informational and a natural teacher, you just want to keep listening and learning – and the music was nice!

  • Curtis said on February 21, 2010

    Thanks so much. Between Onelight and this video, I have learned more from you than in the last 5 years of trying to figure it out on my own. Thanks!

  • Dave said on February 21, 2010

    Thank you very much for doing this. I have been earning my living in photography for over 30 years, but I never tire of learning new things or new perspectives.
    What makes this especially valuable is seeing you go thru your whole process showing exactly everything that you do in real time. It may seem to make it a little long, but the full real-time detail is what makes it so valuable.
    If you want to tighten it up a bit, you could avoid doing the asides on options or alternatives that you don’t do. For example, you don’t really need to cover things that PM can do but you don’t use. What is so valuable for me to see is what YOU do and how YOU do it.
    The other thing that you could do for tightness is be less redundant (as you tended to be in the beginning, when explaining things). Some repetition is necessary when doing a live teaching session, but on a recorded movie, it is unnecessary as we can stop the recording and replay it.
    Thanks again for a very helpful look over your shoulder.
    Caleb, thanks for your comments. You will find that when someone is talking about something that you care very much about, and/or is very important for your earning a living, it becomes very un-boring!

  • Thomas said on February 22, 2010

    hi zack,

    i really love the way you run thru lightroom creating such great images. the white balance is fun and it really works !!
    even the BW example is great and so easy? i allways did a very few corrections in LR and workes things out with PS.
    now i got it, learned a lot. THANX !!!

    i already know the seamless white tutorials. i don’t have a studio or any equipment yet. i don’t know the german expression for ’tile board’ and i’m not sure if we have the same stuff in our home depots? do you have any idea how to find out or can you provide a close up foto on this?

    best ragrds,

  • Rosaura said on February 22, 2010

    have i said ‘thank you’ lately? thank you for all you do and who you are! can’t wait to meet you in salt lake city for onelight. :)

  • Olivier Borgognon said on February 23, 2010

    Hi zack,

    Well thanks again for a great video tutorial.

    I recall info on your DVD where you used to do this PM processing in LR, rating and then deleting the useless photos from catalog + Drive. Did you go to PM mainly for speed of “importing/ingesting” mainly ? as the rest was/is done in LR.

    Caleb:Jedi tools are just the best,may the force be with you young PhotoWan

    Off Topic stuff : Love the way your job is a “family thing” with critique with your wife, and comments from your son. Like the idea of the On Tour, honnestly just that is worth 1 million words on values, very touching.

  • zack said on February 23, 2010

    Olivier – I went to PM for the reasons you state. Speed and ingesting from multiple cards at one time.

  • Belén said on February 23, 2010

    Zack, two words for you: THANK YOU

  • lmphoto said on February 23, 2010

    this was AWESOME of you to do. i sometimes feel in post like i am floundering, and it was great to see that you are having some of the same challenges. thank you thank you thank you, and i vote this was absolutely not boring!

  • Jane said on February 23, 2010

    Hi Caleb – totally non-boring. I liked your Jedi Tools joke and I got it a lot quicker than your dad. My 9 year old son used to love Star Wars but now he’s really into Back to the Future.

  • Derek said on February 23, 2010

    Saw you announce this on Twitter and finally got around to watching it. Not to pile on, but thanks for letting us look over your shoulder on this one. Long, yes, but informative. Not boring.

    Definitely looking forward to you doing the session on archiving.

  • Zac said on February 24, 2010

    Zack, I hope that you get this far down the comments list! Thanks for the vid!

    We actually have almost the same workflow, in the archiving video, it will be interesting to see what you keep and don’t. I made the mistake of just doing the initial backup, but not dragging the renamed folder with 120 edits onto the backup drive, before the external hd they were on crashed. Sad, very sad, all the tweaking and twisting was gone…total redo.

    Also, do you embed your copyright info into your file metadata upon import to Lr with a © preset?

    See you at Ps World!


  • daniel said on February 24, 2010

    Hi Zach. I have been lurking on this site for a while, gleaning knowledge like an anteater to an ant hill. But now I have a question.

    Have you ever considered doing a loose edit of the images and just completely deleting the images that don’t make it for organizing/space saving reasons??

    I know this is like against some kind of photojournalism code that was ingrained into me. But it started when I was like well I will just delete blurry and wrong exposure i.e. “bad” images. Now I am starting to say things like “well i just don’t like this image, so why not delete it.”

    thanks for the info, its always good stuff.

  • Rachel said on February 24, 2010

    Thanks so much for posting this Zack and the time you took to get it online! Great to see a faster workflow with PM. Now comparing that to Capture One & excited to get working with a faster post process over here.

  • Sean said on February 25, 2010

    Thank you for taking the time to do this non-boring vid. Question; do you always go with the auto +50/+25 Brightness/Contrast settings in LR?

  • Gary Jackson said on February 25, 2010

    Zak & Caleb,

    Thanks very much for sharing the whole workflow process. I got jazzed watching it and would pause it to try stuff with LightRoom and then go back to the video and then… well sort of like the temperature trick you shared. Thanks again for all that you do to further this crazy photography thang. I really appreciate it!

    Gary Jackson

    P.S. On the boring scale from 1 being excitement and 5 being boring I rate it a 2.

    Thanks Again

  • Jeroen said on February 26, 2010


    Thanks for this vid. Very interesting as usual :)

    I’ve got a question though. Why do you edit the export jpgs in Photoshop? You’ve got a lot more flexibility if you’d make PSD’s from the raw files straight out of Lightroom.

    But you’ll obviously know this, so there has to be a reason why you edit the exports and save them again.

    I’m really curious why.


  • Secret Agent Mama - Mishelle Lane said on February 26, 2010

    Not. at. all. boring.

    Just found you, and I just have to say THANKS!

  • Oscar said on February 28, 2010

    great, gives some of us the confidentiality that we are doing it the right way.

    thanks great vid.


  • Shawn Chamberlin said on March 1, 2010

    thanks for the great tutorial. coincidentally, i was pretty close in my own workflow. i did have one question though. you say you’re using different presets for camera/lights, when you are shooting, what setting do you have your white balance on? auto? sorry if its a dumb question, i understand the usefulness of presets but if you’re properly white balanced, why the need.

  • Randy said on March 1, 2010

    Zack I use photomechanic all the time and one other huge time saver with it is the ability to embed IPTC meta data including copyright notice, keywords and captions that are worthwhile using. They can even be used during the ingest process if you are shooting the same subject. Randy

  • Ian said on March 1, 2010

    thanks for the awesome insight into your workflow. Learnt so much from it. I struggle a lot with my workflow and it has inspired me to fix it and get it working better.

    Just one question, you are doing the edits in PS to jpegs, right? why not export as raw, edit and export the finals to jpeg?

    Hope to meet you at DPP next year to shake your hand.

  • Smelkie said on March 2, 2010

    Amazing – tought me so much more than I knew – appreciate the time you took to share this with everyone. Kaleb is very funny and no I wasn’t board at all. Look forward to your next one.

  • Mike said on March 2, 2010

    Supa Thanks! I have seen using LR2 and PS CS4 as well and just learned a few more things from you! Not boring at all!

    Looking forward to your archive vid.


  • Natascha said on March 2, 2010

    Zack, thank you for the video. It’s good to see the work-flow of another photographer. Great inspiration and thanks again for sharing.

  • andi said on March 2, 2010

    thank you so much. i had photo mechanic but only used it for downloading cards. am psyched to start using it as a faster replacement for bridge. this helped. a lot. i’m an one lighter from your berkeley workshop!!

  • Tudor said on March 4, 2010

    Your comments about the websites are so enlightening and inspiring. I like the Xposed artists – great shots ! The man is in the zone !

  • George said on March 4, 2010

    Great info, not boring at all, I hope you will post other workflows.

  • John said on March 5, 2010

    I thought the video was awesome, and definitely *not* boring! It was very nice to see you work through your photos and struggle with the same stuff I do. It was also nice to see how fast you are at what you do. And, it was nice to see how that consistency in the field pays off big time in post. Thanks for taking the time to make the video!

  • Jochen said on March 13, 2010

    Was on your Photo Friday workshop last week. Loved this Tutorial, thanks for sharing.

    Could you explain how you generally save changes. I like changes being saved in the file knowing that they will always be there, even after the system fails. But with Lightroom, ACDSee Pro etc saving changes in xmps and catalogues, one gets more reliant to keep these backed up and you can’t easily view edited pictures with other programmes.


  • zack said on March 13, 2010

    I just save final jpgs or tiffs and not worry with xmp’s

  • Jochen said on March 13, 2010

    what about the NEFs from lighroom tho?

  • Kat said on March 14, 2010

    I have been having issues wading through hundreds and thousands of photos from a shoot in Lightroom. Your video rocked my world! I love your workflow and I can see why giving each piece of software its own sphere is useful. Photo Mechanic looks awesome for what it does. Thanks for putting this and yourself out there. I’m sure it feels strange to scrutinize being scrutinized but little guys like me SO appreciate it! Great commentary too! 😉

  • Roy S said on March 14, 2010

    When I saw how long it was (60+ minutes), I thought for sure it was gonna be a yawner. But I finished it in one sitting. (Oh, did I just reveal that I have no life?) Everything about it, including the LR and PS segments, was engaging and educational. Thank you!

  • Millie said on March 19, 2010

    Super rad, and educational.
    It really encouraged me to get it right in camera.

    What I kept wondering throughout the whole video was why, when you had bleeding highlights, didn’t you ever touch the recovery slider? I know it sometimes flattens the dynamics of the lighting, but sometimes its that perfect quick fix.

    Also, i slowly skimmed all these comments, and thought it was so awesome and genuine to see you actually responding to the comments and questions.

    Thanks for everything!

  • zack said on March 21, 2010

    Millie – I don’t use the recovery a lot. When I do it’s just a little bit.

  • ellen said on March 23, 2010

    zack, loved the comments of Caleb (and yours). Thanks for sharing this, lots of helpful info for me and you are so good at ‘unwiring’ complicated things. Thanks again, and keep that son of yours sitting next to you!!!
    Caleb:…..not boring if you want to learn all this stuff.

  • PhiliP White said on March 25, 2010

    In the export dialogue you mention 300dpi but you don’t resize the image. What’s that 300dpi all about then? I don’t get it.

  • Lara Leimbach said on March 27, 2010

    Great work – not boring! Thanks for posting this is helpful.

  • Lanne said on March 27, 2010

    Caleb and Zack.. great video. I am sold. I have heard others bang on about photo mechanic for ages but you completely sold me on it. Caleb – even the boring things in life are interesting to those who are doing it often. Just imagine your dad was showing you how to do an awesome job cleaning the kitchen in under 2 mins instead of 30… i think you would watch 😉 The Jedi/Clone comment… very funny but I also laughed out loud at Dad’s Ctrl Alt Del comment.. so i think it is a one all.

  • Joe McDonald said on April 2, 2010

    Saw you with Dane Sanders
    I found this vid extremly useful.

    I now know that the experienced pros like you have exposure, poles growing out of heads, clipping, ceiling issues that need to be post processed; just like me.
    Makes me feel so much better. There is hope for me yet.

    Great comment about presets, actions, calibrated monitor.

    You are a patient man with your son. Nice quality to have.
    Thx Joe

  • Janice van Huenen said on April 11, 2010

    That was so educational. Totally will change my P/P! Boring no way – having your son there was very entertaining.
    An hour well spent so many great tips! Thankyou!

  • Thomas said on April 13, 2010

    Definitely NOT boring, very useful and informative. I just purchased Photo Mechanic too bad code expired, oh well. Thanks for this post!

  • Amber Fox said on April 15, 2010

    Ok, so you convinced me. I have to get photo mechanic. Awesome post!

  • Lee Howell said on April 21, 2010

    Thank you SO much for sharing this! I was dreading the post-processing of my most recent wedding…I followed your advice, and it worked like a charm. I was drifting away from reality in my post-processing old habits…But now I see the light! 😛

  • Chris Darcy said on April 25, 2010

    Wicked post – really useful – thanks!

  • Marios Weiss said on May 1, 2010

    Photo Mechanic is a great program use it all the time, Great post Thank you Marios

  • David G, said on May 10, 2010

    Thanks so much for all the insight you share and the time you take to explain things. So good. You rock.

  • Alex said on May 16, 2010

    thanks. very useful stuff. learned more in that hour watching you work than trying to read a book on each application.

    for Caleb: nonboring.


  • Tim said on May 21, 2010

    Just watching you tweak in LR helped me to better enhance some shots. Your workflow is clean and to the point and you took the time to explain. That alone was worth the price of admission.
    And no, Caleb, not the least bit boring. Can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this. Can’t wait for the IMAX version!!!

  • Chad said on June 7, 2010

    thanks so much for posting this! It gave me some really good ideas how to shorten my post work. Thanks Zack! Keep up the good work!

  • Dan Browning said on June 21, 2010

    Not boring at all. I could watch this stuff for hours. Thanks for sharing this.

  • tomer feder said on June 22, 2010

    first i have to say that i like your jobs.
    Im a vehicles photographer and i also use to work with PM and light room for the final work. i started to work with the light room from the beginning. i faund that the key word are faster: you just have to right the first letter and if you use it before the program right it down. i select and work on the pic at the same time and it much more faster. if photograph red-bull event and i must upload the pics (300) at the same day. did you try it?

  • Easton Shultz said on June 24, 2010

    “I could make everything grayscale” Hilarious

  • IPBrian said on June 27, 2010

    This was totally helpful. I love your very detailed posts!

    Not boring. :-)

  • Edmonton Wedding Photographer said on August 6, 2010

    This seriously may have answered all my workflow prayers. This is probably the closest thing I’ll get to the best way..Thanks for the push in the right direction. I love LR but it certainly doesn’t have speed on it’s side.

  • Lindsay Pierce said on August 9, 2010

    seriously appreciate your time Zach.

  • Mikey said on August 29, 2010

    Thank you so much for this wonderful post. And no, it wasn’t boring at all K.

    As Edmonton says, Workflow Problem looks like it just got sorted.

  • Steve said on September 3, 2010

    Not boring! I watched the whole thing and learned a lot about lightroom as well.

  • Peter S said on September 7, 2010

    Amazing. You’ve answered so many of my workflow questions. And Caleb, this is definitely not boring! Thanks guys!

  • JoshuaCreative said on September 9, 2010

    what monitor calibrator do you use?

  • Michelle Feeney said on November 13, 2010

    This is great Zack. I actually found this from checking out Pink Ink Studios site who referenced Photo Mechanic. When I went there to check it out they linked to you. I love the internet! :) Not boring at all. You’re a natural story teller and did an awesome job with the breakout of your process. Super helpful and much appreciated. I can’t wait to share this with Sean (my post processing wizard and husband)! :)

  • Travis Johansen said on December 13, 2010

    Wow! Great overview of photomechanic. I’ve been considering buying it for a long time and now it’s definitely on my list of things to buy before the next wedding season!

  • Charlene said on February 13, 2011

    I just came across your blog yesterday for the first time and was totally engrossed in reading. I am Deaf so I cannot hear spoken words in videos or screencasts (obviously missing a lot of info that way), so I wanted to ask you a question re: Lightroom . . . I have been using LR since it first came across – totally self-taught, and I just learned something new from watching your screencast – how did you invert the image to white while checking exposure and blacks, etc?


  • Jennifer said on June 14, 2011

    Charlene, it’s the option (on mac) key with the slider selected. I picked up that tip, too! It’s a great one, isn’t it?!

  • Angie said on August 14, 2011

    Not boring at all, found it very informational and I enjoyed Caleb’s side comments and you handled them very well. Thanks for sharing your knowledge-it is appreciated!

  • Oscar Colman said on October 23, 2011

    Thanks Zack

    Hardley Boring, I’ve been watching the vid since after midnight and its now 1:40 am, guess I’ll be a bit sleepy at work tomorrow but all the wiser for it.
    Unfortunately I now have to contend with a budget problem, as follows: buy PM, LS3 and get my personal monitor callibrated. BTW I’ve heard it said that the 27 inch IMAC is un-callibratable (not sure if thats a word), you said you use a Mac so I wonder if that’s true.

    On the whole I’ll probably have to re-watch this vid a couple of times before I get the hang of these concepts but the way you talked your way through it gave me heaps of valuable skills. One in particular is to give more consideration to how the Sub- Editors use the pics. I hadn’t given that much consideration to that aspect, working for a newspaper, I was told not to worry too much ‘coz subs usually do the exact opposite of what was intended but I’ll keep it in mind and see how it turns out.

    Also I can’t believe I’ve spent days processing dozens of the same types of shots not knowing the is a kind of one size fits all to editing similar shots. could use a whole demo just on how to do that. I know if I try to work it out all by myself, I’ll miss a step and waste more time…

    Thanks once again
    Oscar Colman

  • Rachel said on February 6, 2012

    Awesome tutorial, and a life saver for a beginner. I was wondering – each time you export images, say from RAW folder-Export folder-Edits folder, are you changing the original image? I know you were planning to address archiving in a separate tutorial, but in general is the workflow you describe lossless (if that is the correct word)? I am concerned about preserving the RAW source files for the top picks from every shoot, i.e. the ones you choose for editing and exporting.

  • Jen said on October 25, 2012


    Thank you for sharing your wealth of information with us. LOVE that your son is there with you. Put a big smile on my face. Thank you again!


  • Torch -Shaun Hall said on November 24, 2012

    Hey man..

    Just want to say .. this work flow is very informative.. love the interaction between you and your son!

    And thanks for all the effort you put into stuff like this!

    Las Vegas, NV

  • Drew Sherman said on February 17, 2014

    I’m very interested in watching this video but it has been removed from Blip and I have been unable to find it via google. Can it be reposted?


  • Zack said on February 19, 2014

    Hi Drew. Blip made a big change and killed a lot of accounts. Mine being one of them. I’ll make a new video soon.


  • Steve said on February 18, 2014

    Very useful info thanks Zack!

Speak Up

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *