Year-End Photography Checklist

blog-checklistNEWLY UPDATED FOR 2017!

As the calendar gets ready to roll over into 2017, here are a few suggestions to prep your photo workflow for a new year. Some of the details are specific to Lightroom but the concepts can easily be adapted to whatever digital asset management (D.A.M.) system you use.

Here are eleven photo-workflow ideas for the new year:

  1. Update Copyright metadata preset for 2017 - I have a Metadata preset in Lightroom that automatically applies my Copyright metadata to every picture upon import. That preset needs to be updated for a 2016 copyright year. Always my very first photo workflow task for the new year.
  2. Archive and remove finished client projects from 2016 - Now might be a good time to archive and offline any 2016 client projects you won't be working on in 2017. Make sure to archive your Lightroom Catalog, the related RAW files, and any paperwork you may have associated with that project. Once archived, you can remove then from your working catalog. This clears the decks for 2017 client work to be stored on your computer. Store archive with previous year client archives.
  3. Perform Basic Catalog Maintenance – End-of-year is a greate time to make sure your catalog is nice and healthy going in to the new year. Start by checking for missing images using Library > Find All Missing Photos. If you can locate the missing photos, reconnect them to the Lightroom catalog. If you can't locate them, consider removing them from your active catalog. Once you've rounded up your stray sheep or removed the unfound ones, you should back up the catalog and allow Lightroom to test the integrity and optimize it.
  4. Update your offsite backup - Retrieve your offsite backup from wherever you have it stored and update it to contain everything newly captured since the last backup. Be sure to return your backup to its offsite location when you are done updating it. If you don't already have an offsite backup, now is a good time to establish one and place it in a secure location. (Your home or office, friend or family member's home or office, safe deposit box, etc.) Hard drives are incredibly cheap and this is an easy way to give yourself piece of mind. If you aren't using a cloud backup service like CrashPlan, BackBlaze, or Carbonite, consider subscribing to one for the new year and begin backing up your images to your cloud-based account. 
  5. Purge rejected images from your library - Admit it... as photographers we give ourselves all sorts of juicy rationalizations for why we keep completely useless images around on our hard drives for years and years and years. You know the ones I'm talking about...the blurry ones, the poorly composed ones, the ones we are NEVER going to EVER do ANYTHING with. Do yourself a favor and go ahead and delete some of the junk. It's okay. Let them go. Year-end is a really good time to go back and evaluate which of your images you sincerely wish to keep for the long term. Deleting the bad ones not only frees up hard drive space and un-clutters your catalog database, but it also makes it easier on your creative mind because you remove all the distracting garbage material from your view.
  6. Apply keywords to 2016 photos - I have a simple but effective way to grab all the untagged shots. I made a Smart Collection that is based on "images without keywords." And when I have a few minutes free, I'll dig into that collection and keyword tag as many shots as time allows. The end of the year is a good time to make sure you've got at least some basic keywords for as much of your content from 2016 as you care to tag. Some people like a lot of keywords, some don't like them at all. (I'm a big fan!) Applying keywords while the information is still fresh in your memory is always a good idea. Remember that if you are using the "no keywords" smart collection, images will fall out as soon as they get key worded. So don't be surprised when each one disappears from view.
  7. Create a "Best of 2016" Collection - I always keep a "Top Rated" collection in my Lightroom catalog and it's usually the one I have set as my Target collection. So wherever I am in Lightroom, I can quickly add an image to my Top Rated collection by clicking the quick-pick dot or hitting the B key on the keyboard. At year end, it's a simple matter to create a "Best of 2016" smart collection where: collection = Top Rated and Date of capture is between January 1 and December 31 of 2016. You may optionally turn this best of 2013 collection into a slideshow for sharing with friends, family, and clients.
  8. Close out bookkeeping for 2016 - Pretty straight forward business habits. Gather your tax papers and close your books (paper or electronic) and get ready for a) tax season, and b) the next year of business operations.
  9. Review and Update Pricelist for 2017 - Evaluate your pricing and make any needed adjustments. Update any printed material and/or your website to reflect new prices. Optional: Send emails to clients.
  10. Set personal, professional, and creative goals for 2017 - Figure out what you really want to accomplish in 2017 and make a set of choices in 2016 that leads you to your goals.
  11. Start new 2017 Task List - Transfer any old items still undone. Remove any items you no longer care about. Add any new tasks for 2016. Include any action items that involve the goals you set in #9.
  12. Start a 365 day photo project - January 1st is a great day to begin a photo-a-day exercise. It's great discipline and a fun project to attempt. Make and post at least one NEW photo every single day of 2016. (No fair resuing old shots - the idea is to force yourself to make at least one new image each day.) 

 

I find that getting my house in order at the end of the old year always makes for a good catapult into the new one. What are some of your year-end practices? Do you clean your gear? Throw out old proofs? Thank your clients?