Tech

Power tips for Photo Mechanic

2.3.2017

Power tips for Photo Mechanic

Photo Mechanic is a fast photo browser designed to quickly manage large amounts of incoming photos. Not an image editor, Photo Mechanic is an image sorter and culler that can give you a faster, streamlined workflow, using significantly less time to import, sort, categorize, and add metadata to image files. Once that’s done you can then transfer to pixel editing applications, online gallery sites, or directly to clients.

Photo Mechanic is my secret weapon. I heard about it from other pro photographer friends early in my career who said it culled photos quicker than other programs like Adobe Bridge or Lightroom. As a wedding photographer, I find Photo Mechanic helps streamline workflow following client shoots, reducing by half the time it would normally take.

I see Photo Mechanic as a hidden jewel in the workflow world. Here's why.

SPEED

Photo Mechanic works fast. You can use the arrows to move between photos at lightning speed on any system. It allows me to flip quickly back and forth to easily compare images. You can also do an image-to-image split screen comparison in the program, but 99 percent of the time I don’t need to. It’s so fast that I can recall what I just saw well enough to choose one capture over the other. It’s even fast on a laptop, not just on a super powerful desktop.

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SIMPLICITY

There’s almost no learning curve at all. I don’t even remember “learning” how to use it. I just used it. The company offers great support if you do have issues.

SELLING

During my album design sessions my clients can more easily see their images all at once and make the selections they want included in their album. For example, I have them go through parts of the wedding, like the candids during cocktail hour, and flag their favorites. We use a different color flag for parent albums (just by hitting a number on the keyboard, 1-6) and we quickly and easily ensure we aren’t missing anyone they want in the album. It’s super handy because I can then sort by color class (the flags we just applied), and import them into my album design in Pixellu Smart Albums (another one of my favorite programs). By gathering all the people my clients want to ensure are represented in their albums, you can see when more spreads are necessary, and you achieve higher post-wedding sales.

CLIENT-FACING

When clients are flagging their favorites they have a lot of fun with it; they get a kick out of seeing their selections sorted and love being able to view their whole wedding at a glance.

Photo Mechanic power tips

Culling

Photo Mechanic lets me flip from image to image briskly, and has efficient keyboard shortcuts so I can add color classes, star ratings, or simple tags fast. It includes powerful options to quickly compare photos for focus and sharpness. Find your keepers, lose your rejects, and move on.


You can download Photo Mechanic to try it for free


Culling in action:

Plug in a memory card with lots of raw photos. Have Photo Mechanic ingest them to your computer and open a Contact Sheet. Double-click on an image to open the “Preview Window” and use the arrow keys to flip through images. Use the ‘z’ keyboard key to zoom in and out. Use ‘h’ or ‘v’ to quickly compare two images. Use number keys to assign color classes to photos, and then use the widgets at the bottom of the Contact Sheet to filter the view.

Captioning

With Photo Mechanic I can load shortcut files that I create, or they can be downloaded from places like codereplacements.com. For example, instead of typing “Jeff Samardzija (#29) of the Oakland Athletics” you can use the shortcut \o29\.

Keywords

When it comes to keywords, we all know we could do better. The same Photo Mechanic shortcuts used in captioning can help in keywording. This also includes using variables. I type in a variable once and let Photo Mechanic fill in information.

Keywords in action:

In my Contact Sheet of photos, I use command-A (control-A on Windows) to select all images, then command-I to open up the IPTC Stationary Pad. In the keywords field, I type in {focallength}mm then click “Apply.” All my photos will now have the exact focal length as a keyword. You can do things like keyword old images with the capture year (just use {year4}). There are tons of variables.

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Even typing in keywords on individual images can be sped up in Photo Mechanic. Using the Image Info screen, I flip from photo to photo and add keywords without ever reaching for the mouse.

No-mouse keywording in action:

This is always easier after culling out your rejects, of course. In a Contact Sheet, I select an image and press the I key. This opens the IPTC Info screen. From here, I go to the keyword field, type keywords, and then command-N (or control-N) saves them and advances to the next photo. The tiresome task of keywording gets easier when you’re not having to switch back and forth from mouse to keyboard.

When I’m done culling images and adding metadata, I simply send images from Photo Mechanic to one of my favorite pixel-editing apps such as Photoshop, Lightroom, On1 Effects, or Photoshop Elements. One cool feature is that you can configure up to 10 external pixel editors at once to receive your images directly.

Sending files to clients

One of the frustrating things about transmitting images to clients is saving images out at specific sizes, and then having to keep track of multiple versions. The same goes for watermarks. We’ve all had groups of watermarked images and non-watermarked images. Ever send the wrong one? It can be a hassle.

With Photo Mechanic you can FTP (or upload to Zenfolio, SmugMug, PhotoShelter, and others) at specific image sizes and it will resize on the fly, so you don’t have to keep track of those re-sized versions (unless you want to). You can also choose to add your watermark only on the outgoing photos, which is great for keeping originals pristine and not having to save the watermarked versions locally.

more tips I’ve learned using Photo Mechanic:

I only need the simplest functions, but I can’t live without them. For example, my workflow is downloaded via Photo Mechanic; I rename using the timecode stamped on the image in-camera, which helps me sync with my second shooter’s files by file name, although you can sort by time-stamp-only if you prefer. Then I go through, flag my fave photos by hitting ‘1,’ select all my chosen images, and delete the rest. That’s when I can tighten up my cull. (Sometimes I’ll un-tag all my selects and go through the same process again. This really helps if you tend to shoot a lot.)

Always edit in. This means instead of editing by choosing which photos to delete, choose which images you want to keep. You are much more likely to have a successful cull if you follow this rule.

Try editing in reverse. With a simple button click at the top you can reverse the order of your images. Personally, I find that the last few images of each series are often my best since I’ve perfected my shot, therefore I make those selections first. It tends to give me a tighter cull right off the bat. It’s also a bit less monotonous editing in reverse versus from the beginning.

Lisa Mark is a fine art wedding photographer with Lisa Mark Fine Art Weddings

Tags: business operationspost capture

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