The Five Folder GTD System for Photographers

04-28042018

Active, Portfolio, Archive, Delete (& Personal)

I’m in the process of exhaustively culling my vast horde of images taken over the many years that I’ve been living and breathing photography as my profession and passion.

I’d much prefer many other ways to spend my time, including root canal surgery.

Not all photographers are created equal. Some, like me, are born to shoot. I love the thrill of the chase, being out in the wild (even if that “wild” is the inside of a conference ballroom), hunting for smiles, netting moments, bagging trophy images of beautifully human connections.

But I hate – with great and abiding passion – the concomitant task that follows every photo gig: sitting down at the computer afterwards and having to process the images.

My hatred of the task is so intense, I think it helps me be a better photographer. I am so careful about what I shoot precisely because I don’t want to have to make that same decision ten times over if I just machine-gun spray a room holding the trigger down hoping one or two images will come of it.

I’m known as the “one and done” guy and almost 99% of the time it’s all I need. In many situations, the first take is the best if you’ve properly prepped the subjects and warmed them up a bit with a disarming comment or a well-aimed smile. And the great upside to me personally is having fewer photos to sort through post-gig.

I’m not good at curating, I’ll be the first to admit. My website is in desperate need of an overhaul and refresh, and is currently showing images that are almost as old as the original iPhone! (Not good!)

But the task always yawns just a little further ahead of where my energy ends and then there’s all that work work to do, like actually getting new gigs and keeping current clients happy.

For years now I’ve let my website and online presence in general lag behind the daily work I keep up on to keep the gigs rolling in and for whatever mystical algorithmic reasons, I’ve been lucky to have work come to me that keeps justifying my procrastination on the great brutal job that I know awaits me.

But no more. I’ve let it slide for too long and I am now ankle deep in it. I have a ways to go to get through it, but one simple technique I’ve developed to help guide me through the woods is this. (And while this will speak directly to any creative freelancer who has to good fortune to have a big enough body of work behind them that needs sorting through, I think it’s a good technique for categorizing any kind of stuff you’ve generated.)

Here are the rules of my Five Folder GTD System for Photographers:

Active: I have created an active folder on drive into which goes new work in its own subfolder. Once the job is done and the work delivered, I select the one or two truly outstanding images (if there are any) to migrate over to my Portfolio folder

Portfolio: The initial cull is still too big but once I have the first cut down in here I will run through again with a ruthless eye and get this down to only the best of the best images worth showing and sharing online.

Archive: I tag a wider selection of images that are good and may be handy for blog posts and drag them into the Archive folder.

Delete: Anything else, gets deleted, except for images of my travels and family which I’m not even thinking about tackling now (but will one day!), which gets dragged into the Personal folder.

Personal: Here’s where all the school photos go, baby videos and family, and travel shots that I will also eventually need to sort through but don’t have the time for now.

That’s it. That’s the plan anyway. If you’ve got a better system I’d love to hear it. Get in touch!