Organizing an Extended Trip

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Today’s Question: I see that you were on an extended trip involving photography in a variety of different locations over the course of multiple weeks. How do you go about making sure that you actually review all of your photos along the way, so that you end up identifying all of your favorites from the trip without missing any important photos?

Tim’s Quick Answer: In general I simply make a point of reviewing all of my photos as part of the overall process of downloading and backing up those photos. However, in some cases I will take an extra step to identify photos that haven’t been reviewed yet, to help make sure I don’t miss any photos in my overall review workflow.

More Detail: To be sure, when I’m traveling on an extended trip, it can be a challenge to keep up with my workflow. In my mind the most important tasks are to download my photos and create an additional backup, so that I know my photos are safe. Secondarily, I try to make sure to review all of my photos as I go, to ensure I don’t miss any images in my review along the way.

That generally means that at the end of each day I download my photos, perform a backup of all of the new photos, and then review all of the new captures in order to identify my favorites. In most cases this is feasible, but on some trips I am simply too busy (or too tired) to complete this review each day.

When I’m not able to keep up with my image review during a given trip, I will add an additional step to my workflow to help make sure I actually review all of my photos. This involves adding an attribute to all images that I have actually reviewed, so I can see at a glance if there are any photos that have not yet been reviewed.

In my case I use Lightroom to manage my photos. I use star ratings as my primary attribute for identifying favorite photos, but I also use color labels for some secondary purposes, such as to mark photos I want to be sure to share with others.

For me that leaves the “pick” and “reject” flags in Lightroom as an attribute I don’t generally use. Therefore, I can use a “pick” flag to identify images I have already reviewed, so that any images without that flag still require review.

This may sound like it adds a bit of complexity, but it is actually quite simple. First, I always sort my photos by capture time when I am reviewing photos, and I actually review my photos in the order they were captured. That means when I’m done reviewing photos for the time being, even if there are more photos left to review, all photos up to and including the current photo have been reviewed.

Therefore, whenever I’m finished reviewing photos in this type of scenario, the last photo I reviewed will be selected. I can then scroll up to the very first photo in that folder, and hold the Shift key while clicking on the thumbnail for that photo. This will select all photos that have already been reviewed. In the case of Lightroom I can then make sure I’m in the Grid view (by pressing “G” on the keyboard) so I can update multiple photos at once, and then I assign a “pick” flag to all of the selected photos by pressing “P” on the keyboard.

In this way, when I’m finished reviewing photos, all photos that have been reviewed will have a “pick” flag, and my favorites will have a star rating assigned. Any images that don’t have a “pick” flag (such as newly imported photos) are the ones I know I still need to review.