Travel Workflow

By Roger  (27 Feb 2014)

Since I travel whenever I can, I had to come up with an adjusted workflow when I’m on the road.  I always take my camera, whether I’m on a business trip, visiting relatives and friends, or just on a fun roadtrip.  You never know what you’ll be able to see and photograph.  Business trips can be frustrating because you don’t have the time to go visit the places you want to see at the times you want to see them, but, since I’m not paying for the travel, I take what I can get.  I’m told that is the proper order of things.  ;-)

Taken on my iPhone, at a business lunch.  Really.  Keep a camera with you.

Taken on my iPhone, at a business lunch.  Really.  Keep a camera with you.

My biggest challenge is the laptop.  It runs Lightroom and Photoshop without a problem, but I don’t trust what I’m seeing for a final photo.  Since my home office is equipped with two big, calibrated monitors, I have an environment for a consistent look.  I try to calibrate my laptop monitor before I travel, but I don’t always have time.  The way the photos appear on a laptop is affected by your angle of viewing; lighting where you’re working; colors of the hotel room; and lots of other factors. 

If you have moved to owning only a laptop, I would recommend you keep a good, calibrated monitor at your “normal” workspace.  When you are home, connect your laptop to this monitor, so you can keep your photos consistent.

Processed on my laptop. I hope the quality is OK.  Point Loma, San Diego, CA.

Processed on my laptop. I hope the quality is OK.  Point Loma, San Diego, CA.

Back to my travel workflow.  Let’s start with Mark’s recent blog on back-ups.  I carry an external drive with me, and back up my photos every single day.  I keep the drive with me (in the camera bag), so it can’t get lost or stolen when I check my bags.  (Although to be fair, I’ve never lost a bag in 20 years of travel, and only had two bags damaged.)  If I’m going to someplace special (a wedding or dream trip), I bring a second external drive.  The photos reside on my laptop, external drives, and on the original memory cards, until I reach home. 

Back at the hotel, I’ll import the photos into Lightroom on the laptop and review what I have.  Don’t forget to upload any photos you took with your phone camera, too.  Any really awful ones will be set to “Rejected” in Lightroom.  I’ll rate any that I really like.  Going through my normal workflow while I’m on the road allows me to get a feel for how I’m doing.  If I’m on a personal trip, I may find some subjects I want to revisit, maybe when the light is better or to change my camera angles, etc.

Usually, I don’t go much beyond normal Lightroom processing when I’m on the road.  I would rather plan my next day’s itinerary and prepare for that.  If I’m on a business trip, I don’t have lots of time to work on photos, anyway. 

When I’m lucky enough to have time and something I really want to work on, I’ll move into Photoshop, as needed.  Any work done in Photoshop will create a new file, so I ensure that file is included into the folders on my back-up drives.

When I return home, I’ve got lots of photos outside my normal storage systems.  I can export a catalog from the Lightroom on the laptop and import it to my home system, but I usually just import the files from one of the external hard drives. 

For people who love Lightroom catalogs, this is craziness; I’ve just deleted any work I did on the road.  That is true; however, this gives me a second chance to look at the images with fresh eyes.  As I have explained, because I don’t trust laptop monitors to be consistent, I don’t do much work on the photos while I’m away; I haven’t lost much.  And, if there are photos I don’t want to rework, I can still use the catalog method to import it.  Any work I’ve done in Photoshop is in a separate file, so that work still exists in that file.  You’ll have to decide what works best for you.

Once the photos are transferred to my desktop, they just move into my normal workflow.  I don’t re-format the memory cards or delete the files from the external drives until the photos are safe in my normal working mode, with new back-ups. 

Have you figured out how you’ll handle your photography on the road?  Got any additional thoughts?  I’m always open to new suggestions on how to make the process better.  Have fun when you’re out there.

San Diego, CA

San Diego, CA