Digital Workflow in Six Steps

Back in the days before digital photography you had to develop your film and photographs in a darkroom. Like an assembly line, each image went through a series of steps for developing the film, or transparencies, to the final printed image. You won’t use a darkroom with digital photography, but you do want to keep that assembly line idea in mind and process each image you capture through the same steps. That process is called “workflow”.

Not all workflows are the same. Each photographer develops a workflow that works best for them. Your workflow may make perfect sense to you but will leave me hopelessly confused.

Transfer the Pictures to a Computer

Virtually all digital cameras have a means of transferring images using a cable to connect to a computer. Plugging the camera’s memory card into a card reader may be a better choice since you won’t have to be concerned with the camera’s batteries failing during the upload.

Cull Out the Bad Shots

Delete the bad shots. These are the images that cannot be saved through editing. I cull the picture that are out of focus, the subject is making a sour face or has their eyes closed, images with poor composition, or are grossly over/under exposed.

Edit Large Areas of the Image First

These are the edits that affect the entire image like white balance, color correction, contrast, brightness, saturation, cropping, etc. Working with RAW images will allow you to have greater control.

Edit for the Details

After making the large, full image edits, focus on the smaller edits. This is where you take care of blemishes on the subject’s skin, remove distracting background elements, maybe blur the background a little to separate it from you subject.


Sharpening, like using “unsharp mask”, is the last step after you are satisfied with you edits. Sharpening multiple times will make an image look awful, so only do it once.

Saving the Photograph

Save the final edited version in your photo editor’s native language and as a JPG file for emailing and web work.

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2 thoughts on “Digital Workflow in Six Steps”

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