For over a decade now, we’ve partnered with the team at Camera Bits to integrate with their “instant classic” tool for photographers, Photo Mechanic.
Photo Mechanic is a leading photo editing and image browsing application that thousands of photographers and picture editors use to edit, organize, caption and transmit images.
According to their website and the history of Camera Bits, after seeing the woes of a photography workflow, their president and founder Dennis Walker “realized that the biggest contribution he could make to digital photography besides image quality was to improve the selection and editing process, which at the time was (to use a technical term) rather ‘clunky.’”
We spoke with Dennis back in 2015 about the history of Photo Mechanic and the changing workflows of photographers. Since it’s been quite some time, we thought it would be great to catch up with their team again to hear how things are going.
Mick Orlosky, Director of Marketing, has worked at Camera Bits for nearly 10 years now. We connected with him about his career in the industry, how photographers can make the most out of Photo Mechanic, the power of metadata and more.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your career prior to Camera Bits. What was the catalyst for joining the company?
I’ve been a digital media “fixer” for most of my life. I’ve done product management and/or marketing for lots of digital media companies, large and small. I’ve also done freelance concert and event photography, both as a hobby and as a job.
Camera Bits was a happy mixture of digital strategy and my personal love of photography and photographers, and I was lucky to fit in so well and find a home with this amazing team.
From your own experience or from anecdotes you’ve heard from those using Photo Mechanic, what are some tips for getting the most out of this software?
People generally use Photo Mechanic because they want to be fast. Three points of advice for really getting fast with Photo Mechanic are:
- 10 minutes of prep time can save you literally hours in the field.
- Try to combine steps whenever possible
As an example, even after all these years, I’m finding new ways to use the code replacement feature in Photo Mechanic. It still blows my mind. From a user’s request in our customer forum, I recently figured out how to automatically keyword the season (Summer, Spring, Autumn, Winter) into all my photos as I bring them in off the card. It took me 10 minutes of upfront setup work, and now it will be done automatically from now on without having to lift a finger.
How would you define keywording and metadata? Why are they so important to a photographer’s workflow?
Keywording will be more or less important depending on what you’re doing with your photos. Everybody’s situation is unique, it will be crucial for some, merely a nice-to-have for others.
I know very few photographers looking for less exposure for their work, and often keywording is “step zero” in figuring out how to make photos accessible to others.Mick Orlosky
That’s on top of the value to your future self when trying to find something from four years ago.
Metadata is the same thing, but in a broader sense. Metadata is information about an image, and that takes many different forms. I usually rely on the alliterative “Caption, keywords, credit and copyright,” to introduce people to the concept.
Any best practices come to mind for adding metadata to your images? Alternatively, what are some major no-no’s or things to avoid when going through this step in your workflow?
As mentioned earlier, take some time beforehand to set up a process that will do some of the work for you.
For many of us, any paid photo assignment involves some upfront paperwork or scheduling or shot lists, and the like. As an example, if someone gives you a schedule to shoot a music festival, some clever editing in Photo Mechanic can result in a keyword list, or a folder structure being created automatically from that original document instead of you having to type those things in a second time.
The only “no-no,” I would say, is assuming there is only one way to do something.
I love this question that we asked Camera Bits founder Dennis Walker back in 2015… a lot has changed, so I’m curious… How do you think metadata will be important to photographers in the future?
Well, PhotoShelter has shown us some of the amazing advances in automated delivery and distribution that can be enabled when you have quality metadata, from images automatically getting sent to PR teams or having licensing information embedded so that someone finding your work on Google Images have a path to paying you for your work. This is only going to get more important as these processes continue to get developed.
One area of growth we’re excited about is the increased adoption of “Alt Text” as a way to identify the content of an image beyond just basic keywords. This is great – crucial, I should say – for visually-impaired folks, of course, but also this becomes a very valuable bit of information to have when training machine learning to identify or process sets of images. We foresee Alt Text being more and more important for photographers and publishers in the future.
To hear more from Mick about the importance of a good workflow, listen to this great podcast from the team at Artrepreneurs.
We’ve heard from countless photographers just how important a tool like Photo Mechanic is for their creative processes, whether it’s for a quick freelance assignment or a huge undertaking like organizing years’ worth of photos.
Award-winning nature and wildlife photographer, Daniel J. Cox, for example, shared his specific process for using Photo Mechanic in our recent interview about his career and the programs he uses to organize his work… “I use Photo Mechanic to cull my initial shoot quickly. I’m also able to mark the folders with colored tags, allowing me to easily track the images I’ve looked at and decided to keep or reject. Photo Mechanic is also the most efficient way to caption and keyword all my pictures.”
Leave a comment and let us know how you use Photo Mechanic in your workflow (or tag us on Twitter @photoshelter and share your workflow tips!).