Yesterday I tweeted about the upcoming end to the Camera Bits sale of their Photo Mechanic software at the very reduced rate of $60 (keep in mind this is a non-upgradeable version that is for sale). A few people asked me my thoughts about Photo Mechanic so I thought I would share them. In short, I love it.
I originally learned about Photo Mechanic from Zack Arias. I watched the above video where Zack explains his workflow and was intrigued by his claims that by adding another step to his workflow, he actually decreased his editing time. I use Adobe Lightroom for all of my editing and while I love the program, my biggest complaint is the time it takes to actually download the photos from my CF cards into the program. It’s not unusual for me to shoot 400-700 photos on an assignment, and when I come home at midnight, the last thing I want to do is wait around 45 minutes just for my photos to download.
Photo Mechanic changes all of that, and for me, that was worth the purchase right there. It ingests photos extremely quickly. I can download a full 8 GB UDMA CF card in under 5 minutes. I can also start culling my shots while the import is going on, something I can’t really do in Lightroom because the program tends to get hung up when doing two things at once.
Zack went over his workflow with us when I took his Photo 101 course in early February and after seeing it in practice, it makes a lot of sense. I personally delete any and all “bad” photos from my hard drive after a shoot. I don’t want to keep blurry or out of focus (or *gasp* badly composed) shots just to have them. They are taking up space on my hard drive that could be used in the future, so I get rid of them. The problem I was having was that I still had to import them into Lightroom so I could eventually delete them. The beauty about adding Photo Mechanic to my workflow as my ingestion tool is that I only import my keepers into Lightroom. This way I am only importing and working on shots that I am going to keep or end up filing as part of my assignment.
In short, here is my workflow:
- Import photos into working folder via Photo Mechanic
- Cull photos by adding color value
- Sort on color value, place all selected photos in new folder on external HD
- Import those photos into Lightroom
- Begin editing
- Export final batch of selects into subfolder so that if client calls about a certain photo, all file names will match up
That’s it in a nutshell. I’ll go through how I label photos in Lightroom itself (stars and colors) in a future post. Just to be clear, Photo Mechanic is not an editing tool. It does have some basic editing capabilities (cropping, contrast sliders, etc.) but you’ll want a more robust program for that. What Photo Mechanic is great for is sorting photos and also adding metadata. The Washington Post has very different metadata requirements from all of my other clients, and since they use Photo Mechanic, it is very easy for me to get the proper info in the correct fields by using the same program.
Photoshelter’s blog has a good post comparing various digital asset management systems, including Photo Mechanic.
Any questions? Ask away in the comments.