Cut Your Workflow Time In Half Using Photomechanic

Quite a number of years ago I had a friend that suggested I use Photomechanic to review my photos and pick the ones I want to edit (also known as "culling.") I downloaded the free trial and was immediately turned off by the archaic and confusing menus. Had someone showed me then what I was missing I would have immediately adopted it into my workflow and saved myself lots of time over the years. Hopefully this video will do it justice and show you just how incredible and valuable a tool Photomechanic is for your workflow.

Some critics might argue that there isn't much you can do in Photomechanic besides import your photos and review them to choose the keepers. On the surface it does look like an expensive investment for a tool that doesn't give you all the features that Lightroom does for example. At $150 it's not pocket change to invest in the program. However had I known just how much time it would save me I would have easily paid twice that for this simple program. Ideally I would have loved if Adobe would just pay a handsome amount to CameraBits the makers of Photomechanic and incorporate the program's features directly into Lightroom. A man can only dream.


The issue lies in the fact that when I am trying to pick my favorite pictures in Lightroom I have to wait for that darn "Loading" text at the bottom of each picture before I can see the image and be able to judge whether or not it is a keeper. Sure the "Loading" text might only be up there for 5 seconds or so, but think about it. If I am looking at 150,000 photos in a year using Lightroom and waiting 5 seconds for each to load, that adds up to 12,500 minutes or 208 hours I am throwing away every year just waiting on the picture to load. I am in no position to throw away 208 hours out of my life every year. Now some might argue to render out your previews 1:1 before going through your pictures. It might save a bit of time, but 1.) Now I have to wait for LR to render every single photo from the card good or bad, and 2.) I still see the "Loading" text even on the 1:1 previews. So what's the answer?

Well in Photomechanic when I pull up the folder of pictures I immediately see them all on my contact page. When I double click on one I open up the preview screen. From there I can see the photo in high resolution immediately - even down to checking if the eyelashes are in perfect focus - without any loading of the image. I click the arrow to cycle through to the next photo and again immediately tact sharp, no loading needed. I can even start my culling process as my photos are still importing and have it finished as soon as the card has imported all my pictures, thereby killing two birds with one stone.

Another favorite feature of Photomechanic is the ability to import (ingest) multiple cards at one time. Rather than import one and wait for it to finish, I can plug in three card readers and import all my cards at one time as well as back them up to an external hard drive. Now rather than spending 2 hours importing and backing up my cards after a wedding I am able to do it in about 20 minutes. There is a lot more to Photomechanic that I would be happy to talk about in the future if you guys are interested. But in short the program as saved me so much time over the last year and has truly been a blessing to my business and workflow. Watch the video and if it looks like it's something that might work for you go pick up their free trial to give it a go. Hope you enjoyed the video, let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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Very interesting thanks - and yes, keen to learn more about PM

Richard Cave's picture

its my program of choice, fast and reliable, and there are loads of hidden features in there that make life easy. As a press photographer, on the job with a laptop as soon as I pick the ones that need to go to agency I can send as a I go. Lightroom is a inside studio machine and is too bloated. PM does its job efficiently.

Jeff Cable, Olympic photographer for the USA Women's Water Polo Team, recommended it this year in a class I took on event photography at Unique Photo in NJ. It really is much faster than Lr.

Pixyst's picture

Apple are you listening? If you are looking for ways for Aperture to leapfrog Lightroom - this is one.

Thanks for the video Trevor, been using PM for a while now and LOVE it. My quick question, when you upload 2 or 3 cards at the same time does it create any lag in the upload speeds and culling speed on your computer as well? Thanks!

Thanks Brian. Great question. I have never speed tested it but I could in the future. I typically put all my cards in at one time from a wedding at the end of the night then go to bed. When I wake up the next morning they are ready to be culled and all backed up.

Todd Buchanan's picture

Brian, you can check out my more recent post (above) about our use of the application but I have done 3 and some times 4 cards being injested at a time and the thing that slows it down is when you start to injest on your slowest port...i.e firewire 400 reader versus 800 or "old" usb 2.0 on a 3.0 bus...Or if you get someone who has a slower/old long as your cards are pretty much all the same speed (and preferably newer/faster) and you are not using "older" card readers, it does a pretty amazing job of injesting quickly...there is also a progress bar in a dialog box that shows you how fast each card is injesting, and on completion it can be set to eject the also reports any failures with any files and can be logged to show exatly what has been injested. It also has an option to "remember" what you have injested so if you happen to forget to wipe a card, shoot some more on it and then plug it back in, it will only injest the new images and not the old ones...can't tell you the number of times that has saved me time on tight can also create a log file of all the files you have ingested....

Try Breeze Browser Pro. Cheaper and just as good.

Love that freaking program, hopefully you guys will continue posting more articles about integrating photomechanic and lightroom.

Use Aperture. Jumping from one program to another can cause major offline issues. Not to mention spending being decent with two programs instead of mastering one.

Also, you can multi-import with both Aperture and Lightroom. And hit P if you want to cull fast.

Daniel not sure if you have tried Photomechanic yet or not... but I have been using LR since it's first beginnings and and extremely familiar with the program and efficient workflows in using it. Sadly though LR does not do it nearly as fast (even using all the keyboard shortcuts) as PM does it.

just a quick tip for fellow wedding photographers that import more then one card at once. if you use MAC, you can actually import more then one card at a time with LR. in import screen, instead of select your cards under source>device, you can actually select more then one folder under source>files. just like selecting more then one files in finder. then click import. windows version are outa luck. for whatever reason, you can select more then one folder, but it doesn't import like MACs do

Besides the amazing to cull features, don't forget how easy it is to set up your color tags to reflect Adobe's so that your choice appear across Lightroom and Bridge. But really my favorite feature is my ability to easily batch apply a vast amount of IPTC data so that my images have my copyright contact info and a plethora of SEO friendly keywords from the moment I start my workflow! What I cannot wait for is their Catalogue feature still in the works - can you imagine an entire image database across all of your terabytes easily accessible through the speed of PM?!?! My life will almost be complete! Love PM and super appreciate your article on this fine program.

Also take a look at Fast Stone Image Viewer. Almost the same features (you cannot import multiple cards at the same time), but it's FREE.

I was briefly introduced to PM recently and was really impressed on what I saw. Thank you for doing this Trevor!

Thank you! Very helpful!

This is huuuuge. I have a late 2008 macbook pro and waiting for images to load in Lightroom just to pick out the good ones was such a time-intensive task. Thanks so much for this article!

Todd Buchanan's picture

Some people may not grasp the power of Photo Mechanic when they suggest that it seems silly to have two a photojournalist, I have a deadline every minute, as the saying goes and I have been using it since it first came out 15 years ago.

One of my clients is the World's Championship Breeders' Cup Horse Race(s) - 14 races over 2 days and we can have 12-14 photographers shooting each race. We produce over 225GB of jpgs (yes that's just jpgs) over the 2 days and we ingest EVERYTHING on the fly...we can be injesting 3-4 cards at a time on each laptop and we use the power full code replacement tools to identify every image, tag it with photographers name, caption and placed in seperate folders AND edit in each new tab that opens for each folder...we have photos that we tag, crop and send via FTP (built in to PM) in a matter of minutes after each race....try that with LR or Aperature...they would come to a crawl and die (believe me I know what I'm talking about...I love LR, Capture1 and Aperature but they can't do this stuff)

This last year we had not one freeze or crash while working at that pace each day....Granted It may not have the pretiest interface, but there is ALOT of power under the hood for deadline shooters like myself.

very nice, thank you for sharing! I will try using nikon's View NX2 to do similarly, since it seems like the interface will do the same culling process with speed without the pricetag. I'm interested in what else photo mechanic can do though, to make the $150 worth it for me. Perhaps in the future it will prove more valuable, but right now I'm just starting out.

208 hours... shesh! The more I hear about PM, the more I want to get it. Free trial, here I come! Thanks again Trevor! I am really enjoying reading through your posts on fstoppers, you are a fountain of knowledge!

Penn Zhang's picture

Beside the import functions, The rating and selecting ADOBE BRIDGE does a better job, and it's free, also when you save meta data and color corrections in LR, it will shows previews on ADOBE BRIDGE.

Trevor, do you know if you can automatically upload to cloud storage with PM while ingesting/backing up to a physical hard drive?

Hi Trevor,

Fellow Shoot and Sharer here, trying to learn Photo Mechanic today! What settings do I need to change so it auto advances as I hit t?


Steven Fogarty's picture

Loved this tutorial. Please more info on PhotoMechanic with Lightroom for wedding photographers. Thank you.

Maarten de Boer's picture

Thanks! Lightroom is indeed slow when having a lot of high resolution images, yet for editing it's lovely. Usually the problem is to get other programs working nicely with Lightroom but the way of importing only the picked photo's seems promising. I usually import my photo's and tell important sets to create 1:1 previews so I can easily cull through them, yet there's still some delay between photo's and isn't as blazing fast as Photomechanic.

Downloading their trial now, curious about how much there is to gain and how much it matters in my day to day work.

Frederic Hore's picture

Like Trevor, I am a Photo Mechanic user since 2007. It's a superb and powerful program with plenty of options for exporting (outputing) your images, be it sending PDF contact sheets with proofs to clients, uploading to popular websites like Zenfolio, or even using FTP to send photos to newspapers or a pro lab that offers this facility.
Download the manual to learn the full capabilities of this software and image browser. I sent the PDF file to a printer, so that I could have a printed copy open at my side, while I learned to use the different facets of this program.
Hope this helps.

Frederic in Montréal

Scott Pam's picture

If you have tips for someone shooting lots of bands....I used to import directly from the card into LR and wondered why I could cook a four course meal before it was done.

Then I went to manually copying the files from the card to the hard drive, and then importing the folder in LR by dragging it into the import screen. It was much faster.

My next step was trying out the On1 Browse which worked for a short period of time and now will not function whatsoever. It crashes as soon as the program loads. That is now out of the equation as their tech support cannot figure it out.

I downloaded PM and I am lost trying to do it the same way I did before. Is it better use PM for the import? I don't want it separated by date as I can shoot five bands from 10PM to 2AM and that would make it more difficult to locate the shots.

Each batch has more than one band and I cannot find a way to figure this out quickly including adding the metadata.

I am back to LR for now.