Do you have a routine for getting back on your feet after an exciting photography adventure?
We recently returned from a trip to Kauai, Hawaii and here’s what I’ve been up to the past couple days.
1. Import and Backup
Keeping your photos safe is the number one priority! My backup workflow actually starts while we’re still traveling. I’ll save the details of our travel workflow for another post, but basically by the end of the trip I already have all the photos from the trip on a portable hard drive along with a temporary Lightroom catalog that was used during the trip.
When we get back home we need to transfer the photos to our main photo storage archive. This is as simple as importing the temporary Lightroom catalog and photos on the portable hard drive into our main Lightroom catalog.
Once the photos are transferred to our main storage archive I do what I call a “Safety Backup”. This basically involves copying the original raw photos onto a hard drive that I never work off of, is never connected to the computer except during the backup, and I never erase. It’s kind of a last resort insurance backup of the original raw files.
After I do the safety backup I convert all the raw photos to DNGS.
Easily Import another catalog into your main Lightroom Catalog
2. Offsite Backup
What? Didn’t we just talk about backup? Yup, but an important part of our backup workflow is offsite backup. This basically involves copying all the photos to an external hard drive which we then take to our safe deposit box. The offsite backup protects us from losing our photos in the event that disaster strikes our home studio.
Until the offsite backup is done I won’t format the original memory cards that were used on the trip (which act like a temporary portable offsite backup).
I try to have the offsite backup done within a week of getting home. I also do an offsite backup right before we leave for a trip so that if anything happens to our house while we’re away, all our photos will still be safe.
I also keep our passports in our safe deposit box, so I can usually get two things done at once when doing the offsite backup (three things if I need to do some banking!).
Most of our backup workflow is automated through a handy program called Chronosync. You can learn more about creating a great backup workflow that suits you with our eBook Backup or Die.
3. Unpack and Clean Gear
Hopefully when you get back from a big trip your camera gear will be good and dirty. That’s great! It means you used it!
I try to keep our gear as clean and organized as possible, but this past trip we were doing a lot of shooting on the beach, and I know there is sand in our camera bag.
My gear cleaning process is pretty simple. First, I’ll make sure the front and rear elements for all our lenses are dirt and smudge free. I use a fresh microfiber towel along with a lens pen for this. The brush on the lens pen really helps get the sand out of the filter rings in the front element (as well as all the nooks and crannies of a camera)
I’ll also clean our camera’s sensor. First I do the automatic sensor cleaning, and then I do the manual cleaning. With the manual cleaning the mirror and/or shutter pop up and you can see the sensory directly (there’s actually a glass filter over the sensor). From there I’ll use a rocket blower to blow off any visible specks of dust. It helps to use a flash light to check for dust. For dust specks that are stuck I use a lens pen specifically designed for cleaning sensors called a Sensorklear.
I’m not super meticulous about cleaning our sensor and have only done the “wet” sensor cleaning a few times. As long as there aren’t big obnoxious dust specs in our photos then I’m fine.
4. Calibrate Monitors
After you get back from your photo trip you’ll probably be spending more time than usual viewing and editing your photos. It’s a great time to make sure your monitor is properly calibrated!
I use an NEC PA Series monitor with the accompanying Spectraview calibrator (you can read my review of it here). It’s amazing how different photos look on a properly calibrated monitor compared to a laptop screen.
Photos I edited on the laptop while traveling look under exposed, lack contrast and vibrance, and the white balance needs adjustment. It’s fun doing quick edits on the laptop while traveling, but I think any serious editing needs to be done using a proper monitor.
5. Print Photos
I’ve tried to make it a habit of printing out a few photos after we return from a trip. I put them up on our fridge and it’s a wonderful reminder of how much fun we had on our adventure. It’s also a big motivator to return to the photos to more thoroughly review, organize, and edit them!
I use our Epson 3880 printer, and my favourite paper is Moab Entrada Bright 300. For quick prints it’s also super easy to use Lightroom’s Print module to either print individual photos, or to arrange multiple photos of different sizes on one big piece of paper.
Our ultimate goal is always getting our best photos into an album of some kind, but that often requires a more thorough review of all the photos, so in the meantime fridge prints are an awesome place to start.
6. Review Photos
I’ll start by saying that we’re bad at this – which is why I put “Print Photos” first. I have to admit that I don’t have an amazing strategy for reviewing our travel photos yet. With a wedding or portrait session it’s easier (you look through the photos and pick the keepers that you’ll deliver to the client).
With our travel photos it’s a lot more random. We star the good ones. But what I would like is for all our photos to be decently keyworded so that we can easily find things by searching through our catalog (instead of browsing). Our file folders are organized by date with a descriptive folder title so that usually helps cut down browsing time, but it would be much faster if our photos had keyword tags. I would also like a more established rating system so we can easily distinguish our best photos from just “good” or useful photos.
Here’s a funny story about reviewing photos from our most recent trip:
On one of our last days travelling we were on a beach taking some family portraits. All of a sudden a plane flew over the trees, flying so low it seemed like it was going to crash into the water. I barely had time to point my camera into the sky and take a few photos. (The plane didn’t crash, it was just flying super low!)
A couple days after we got back home I was looking through the photos and found the photo of the plane. Lauren noticed registration numbering on the back of the plane. We searched it in Google and found it was built by and registered to “Andrew Doughty”.
After searching “Andrew Doughty” in Google we were shocked to learn that he’s the author of the guidebook we had been using the whole time!
Best celebrity sighting ever!
If you ever visit Kauai make sure to pick up his guidebook, it’s the best!
And make sure you review your photos, you never know what hidden gems you might have collected.
And always take photos of airplanes. ;)
7. Catch up and reflect!
We’re usually in the weeds when we return home from a trip. We need to catch up on emails, return phone calls, organize business receipts from the trip, do laundry, get groceries and figure out where we’re heading next!
I find travel really inspiring, and it’s an awesome opportunity to break out of daily routines. Being in a new place, doing new things, and meeting new people often provides some excellent perspective about your own life. I try to take notes of the thoughts and ideas I have while travelling. Often what I’m thinking about when travelling is “How can we move here?” simultaneously with “What can we do differently when we return home?”.
When we do get home I often have a list on my phone of “Stuff we need to do when we get back”. Some of it is minor errands, but sometimes it’s big picture stuff that could change your life, like “Hey, let’s start a photography business!”.
Try to take some time after you get back home to reflect on how your trip went and how it might have changed your life.
Your turn! What do you do when you first get back from a photography trip? Anything essential I might have missed? Let me know in the comments!