With the wedding season right around the corner, it is time to find a solution to improve last year’s workflow. Most event photographers complain about the same thing: culling. It can quickly become a very time-consuming task, and it is far from being the most interesting part of the job. Although, there are a few ways to help speed up the process while retaining a solid quality control.
Photo Mechanic for Lightning Fast Display
Let’s start with the software part of the workflow. If you shoot many events or weddings per year, by now you probably noticed Capture One and Lightroom aren’t the best at displaying the pictures in a heartbeat. The thing is, both will show you previews with adjustments. Those JPEGs take a bit of time to load with their image settings before they render properly.
However, if you haven’t done any modification so far, it doesn’t make much sense to have the adjustments loaded. All you really need is the JPEG created by your camera while shooting. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about going back to JPEG only. But your camera will always produce a JPEG file and embed it in the raw file in order to display on the LCD screen.
JPEG processors don’t make use of that tiny hidden JPEG file. However, Photo Mechanic does and does it well. Meaning you can go back and forth between images with virtually no loading time. You get a tack-sharp preview with the profile set on your camera — so if you shoot black and white on your camera and process your raw in color, the JPEG will be displayed in black and white.
An added bonus of Photo Mechanic: you’ll be able to import multiple cards at once, saving you time already right from the first post-processing step.
A Gamepad to Make Culling Fun
Now that we have a reliable and fast software to cull down our many images, let’s find a way to go through them very quickly. The keyboard is a good start, but not the most user-friendly solution and many others are available out there, each having positives and negatives. The best keyboard alternative I’ve found is a USB or Bluetooth gamepad. I tried this recently when I discovered my long lost Logitech Dual Action.
I then remembered having seen an article talking about using a gamepad to work in Lightroom. After a few minutes looking for it on the web, I ended up here on Fstoppers with an article Rebecca Britt wrote a few years ago about Cullinator. However, I didn’t want to invest over $50 for something I could have for less.
Windows users can get JoyToKey for as little as $7. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you much more than the official website does as I don’t have a Windows machine to test it out at the moment.
Mac users will have the choice between Gamepad Companion and Joystick Mapper. The first is $7.99 and will allow you to bind the gamepad keys to anything, including key combinations. The second alternative is just $4.99 and does the same as Gamepad Companion but cannot use key combination. Both work well and haven’t crashed on me — or at least not yet.
I know, not everyone used to be a nerdy gamer in his part and thus not everyone has a gamepad lying around. But don’t worry, they can be had for dirt cheap. The Logitech Dual Action I own can be found as good as new on eBay for less than $20. Otherwise, you can browse through B&H products, I’m sure you’ll find one with the color and button layout you wish.
Using the gamepad along with Photo Mechanic really helped me save time in what’s probably the most repetitive and boring part of any post-production workflow.
If you shoot events, weddings, or other jobs that require you to shoot hundreds if not thousands of pictures per day, this is much more than worth the investment. Photo Mechanic, the key binding software, and a gamepad will only cost you about $180 in total.
What is your current setup for culling images? Do you already use a gamepad or do you think it’s totally ridiculous? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.