The underlying thought behind establishing your workflow should be speed and quality. I heard about PhotoMechanic for a year before I bit the bullet and bought it. Now, I can't imagine going back to Lightroom for ingesting and ranking images. However, I also wouldn't dream of editing images in CameraRAW and using Bridge for my processing workflow. Point being, use the right program for the right job and you'll save yourself a lifetime.


I use PhotoMechanic for what it does best: ingesting, creating a backup, viewing, rating, and key wording every image. I do this prior to import into Lightroom as any and all changes are written directly into the RAW file. On import into Lightroom all of my star ratings and keywords are easily viewable. Everything I shoot ultimately ends up in Lightroom, but it starts in PhotoMechanic. If I'm in the field, I can use PhotoMechanic and my laptop to import directly from a one card to two separate drives creating an instantaneous backup. From there, I quickly sort through images using a 3-Star rating for anything that should continue on in my development process. I also apply keywords and location data on import. Even though PhotoMechanic exports color labels to Lightroom, I don't use them at this stage of my workflow. More on color labels later.

LIGHTROOM CC | $10/month

Lightroom is meant to be a database for cataloging and tracking your photographs. It also has a powerful development engine for making non-destructive changes to RAW files. The non-destructive part is important because it preserves the file as it came straight out of camera. It also saves on disk space when creating multiple versions (i.e. color, black and white, square crop). Use it like this. Lightroom is bad at quickly viewing and rating images so find a different program for that portion of your workflow. After import, I use Lightroom to maintain a single point of reference for EVERY photo on EVERY hard drive. I rename all my images to a standard template starting with date (YYMMDD_Location_0001.cr2). Lightroom is my digital darkroom of choice as I've been using it since the Beta release. That's not to say that other digital darkroom softwares aren;t equally as good or better. Lastly, I use Lightroom to store and backup all of my changes to images within my catalog. Collections and Smart Collections can be useful tools to utilize when you are creating multiple portfolios or web galleries.

As part of my process, I assign color labels based on image genre (see below). These images are what I consider portfolio quality. I hold off on using color labels until the end of my workflow because I don;t know the images that will ultimately become 5 star quality until after adjustments are made and compared across the board.

I used to keep multiple Lightroom Catalogs based on image genre, but found color labels worked better. All of my images remain together in single location which aids in search. If an image falls in to 2 categories, I can generate a second version of an image and place it in both genres. Here is how I separate based on genre:

Red - Adventure Work

Yellow - Family/Personal Work

Green - Architecture Work

Blue - Business/Commercial Work

Purple - Wedding/Families Work

Being that I don't shoot Weddings and Families anymore, I have assigned this category to purple because there is no quick key for assigning the Purple color label. One final thought here, If you go back to view images in photoMechanic that you have adjusted in Lightroom, you'll notice it recognizes and displays your Lightroom adjustments when rendering a preview.


If your Lightroom catalog is a mess, there are a couple of things you can do to get things organized. Before starting, recognize that anything you want to do to your catalog of images (rename items, move folders, copy or duplicate images, show parent folders, edit using Photoshop or an external editor) should all happen via the Lightroom interface. if you make these changes from within Lightroom, you won't have files missing or unlinked. I would start by cleaning up my folder structure and hard drive system before moving on. Next, I would organize images from within Lightroom using stars, flag picks, and color labels. Lastly, I would add keywords and location data to small groups of images that are ranked 3-stars and higher.

Here is my file structure for my hard drives:

  • [RAW]
    • 2013
    • 2014
    • 2015
      • 01 January
        • 150126 Moab
          • 150126_Moab_0001.cr2
          • 150126_Moab_0002.cr2
      • 02 February
      • 03 March

Hopefully the above structure makes sense. Using numbers at the beginning of months ensures they stay in the correct order within a yearly folder. Upon import into Lightroom I always make sure the parent folders are showing starting with the year (right-click on folder > "Show Parent Folder"). This is a nice way of browsing for images within Lightroom.

Finally, I turn off all modules within Lightroom that I never/rarely use. For me that's the Print, Web, Book, and Slideshow modules. I also collapse all of the development panes that I don't use. I like having as simplified an interface as I can get so I can focus on my images.


In closing, I wanted to share something I've recently learned regarding DNG files. A DNG can be used for sharing RAW files with clients while preserving the opportunity to share your edit and vision for a specific image. Exporting the DNG allows you to include a JPG thumbnail of your fully developed image while also including the RAW file with accompanying changes for client use. If they don't like your edit, they can always reset an image and start with the original RAW file.

Hope this little update was helpful. Leave a comment below if you have any questions and I'll get back to you.


At times, photography gear can be a never ending quest for more. I know it shouldn't be this way, but I have a few pictures in mind that I'd like to make this year and they require purchasing some specific gear. Other items are on this list for safety reasons while some of the bigger items are motion based. One of my goals this year is to shoot a couple of professional quality videos that I'd feel comfortable sharing. Luckily, I have a full-time job that allows me to put the money I'm making in my photography business back into the business. Most of the time that means covering expenses and marketing myself, but on the rare occasion that means purchasing some new toys. Here are a few of the items on my radar for future purchase:


Canon EOS 1DX Mark II

Canon EOS 1DX Mark II

This new camera was just announced a couple of days ago. Everything I'm reading and seeing about the camera is that it delivers on nearly all of the expectations coming from the Canon community. If you'd like to know if it's a great camera jst look at the camera it's replacing. I won't get into a tech breakdown here, but the new Nikon D5 and the Canon 1DX Mark II are both VERY impressive! You can get into the nitty gritty of tech specs on which camera you think is better, but I'm just excited to see some of the content that will be made using these new tools. I've already seen a short film from Corey Rich (I'll post this outdoor inspiration soon) using the Nikon D5 and I know there's more to come.



Light & Motion Stella 1000

Light & Motion Stella 1000

I have had this vision of a few images I would like to capture deep in a Southern Utah canyon, but they would require the use of an external light. One image may or may not include back lighting a waterfall with someone on rappel. Another warrants lighting a frigid pool of water as someone swims through amidst the high canyon walls. At 1000 lumens and fully waterproof to 328 feet, the Stella 1000 light from Light and Motion can easily accomplish this. The additional mounting options and light modifiers that accompany the light make this an ideal tool for my intended use. I've put off purchasing lights for several years now waiting for the right tool for the job, and I think I've finally found it.


Aviator Travel Jib

Aviator Travel Jib

This one may still be out a little ways before purchasing, but it's definitely on my list. I have been looking for a lightweight travel jib that I can take with me as a one man band into the backcountry. This would allow me to get some motion into my videos for more incredible footage. I've done a bit of searching online and I've come up with the Travel Jib from Aviator. It's carbon fiber and mounts to a standard tripod for that added bit of umph. At under 3 lbs this could definitely go in my camera bag to add to my shot variety.




Spot Gen3 GPS Tracker

Spot Gen3 GPS Tracker

The Spot Gen3 is awesome! It tracks where you go for your friends/family to review online. It allows you to send pre-programmed text messages to family while you're away. Not to mention it's a beacon that sends out an emergency signal if you do need help. What a great tool to have with you on an adventure. Pair this with a Goal Zero Venture 30 and you have a pretty good emergency plan.

What's on your list? Anyone have experience with a good travel jib they like? That's the one item I'm probably least sure of on this list.


There are a few non-photography equipment items I find I'm taking with me on every adventure, and I wanted to share 5 of those here.

Qalo Ring | $25

I kept seeing ads for the Qalo Ring show up in my Instagram feed. I always used to remove my wedding ring when traveling to protect it from getting scratched or beat up. More often than not, what ended up happening was I would go for long periods of time without wearing my ring because it was more comfortable. I (and my wife) didn't like this so I bought a new ring from Qalo for $24.99 and it has yet to leave my finger. The ring is made from a durable silicon I can lift weights and the knurling won't scratch it. I don't worry about banging it on things or If I get too hot or hike too far and my fingers swell, I can still stretch the ring and take it off. I've been impressed with how durable it is and I'm excited for the weather to warm so I can give it a test run in a Southern Utah canyon. The only downside, which isn't really a downside, is that it doesn't spin well on desks or tabletops when you get bored.

Key Knife | $ .99

If you carry a small knife with you every day then you have inevitably forgotten to remove it from your keychain, wallet, pocket before traveling.  I've had to throw away/mail to myself a half dozen knives that I used to carry with me on a daily basis. However, a few years ago for Christmas, Santa brought me a pocket knife shaped like a key. This might not sound like something that's very important, but I assure you it makes all the difference. It's easy to bring with me everywhere because it's always on my keychain. Also, I'm a little reluctant to share this because it may give someone a bad idea, but the best part for me is that I've flown with it dozens of times and never had to throw it away. When my keys go through security the knife blends right in and never gets noticed. I even had a Swiss Army card that made it through security several times before having to throw it away.

North Face Winter Boots | $170

Aside from moon boots as a kid (see Napoleon Dynamite footwear), these are the first good Winter boots I've ever really owned. They are extremely light weight, filled with Duratherm® insulation, feature Vibram® Icetrek soles, and are made from breathable Gore-Tex®. They are a great boot! I've spent hours in these boots hiking and standing in the snow and they have never required breaking in or additional feet warmers. Match them with a good pair of gators and you are in business for Spring hiking with lingering high-altitude snow pack.

LTD Sunglasses | $40

I am notorious for losing sunglasses. This wasn't a problem when I was a high school kid living in Texas (my dad's an optometrist). However, I have spent more money on cheap sunglasses from Wal-Mart and Target than I care to admit. Last year I went on a canyoneering trip with Scott Hansen (founder of LTD Optics) and he passed me a pair of Black Chameleon glasses with Zebrawood frames. The rubber frame was super comfortable and and the wood was lightweight but still stylish. I've since bought a second pair and they go with me everywhere. I like knowing gear is well-made, yet inexpensive enough that I can be less than fragile with it. My LTD glasses have been amazing and I will continue to be a loyal customer in the future.

NOTE: I received no additional free glasses for writing this.



This last piece of gear isn't gear at all, but my gear room. My wife and I finished building a new home back in September and I have a whole utility room with shelves and a small table for dumping gear, packing equipment, and storing all things photography. This has been so exciting for me! I finally have a spot where everything can live and remain easily accessible. I outfitted the unfinished walls with pegboard and hooks and it has made a world of a difference. Side note, if you like your electronics organized, pegboard works great for running cords from underneath and zip ties through to hold things in place (see photo). This isn't really a man cave as I only spend time down there when prepping for a trip or an adventurous outing, but it does beat cramming everything into a closet or under the stairs.

On that note we'll wrap. What non-photography items do you take with you everywhere?






BUBM Travel bags

BUBM Travel bags

I don’t travel as much as some photographers, but I am still constantly trying to improve on my packing process and systems. I have found packing to be faster when I keep all of my photographic items compartmentalized and self-contained. What does that mean? It means I have broken down specific items and equipment into individual bags that contain all of the necessary items for using the equipment included. It’s always nice being in the field and knowing that I have all of the necessary charging cords, batteries, and accessories for each piece of equipment right there in the bag. I purchased two sets of travel bags from Amazon and have divided equipment into the following photography kits:


In the first of the small bags, I carry two GoPro bodies along with charging cords and extra batteries. I have also fit the waterproof housings, attachments, bases, straps, and memory cards.


The second small bag contains all of the items I need when shooting video for recording quality audio. In this bag I keep my Rode VideoMic Pro, Rode Deadcat Wind Muff, Beachtek 2-channel audio adapter, an extra 9-volt battery for the microphone, along with all connection cords.

Audio Kit in Small Bag

Audio Kit in Small Bag

Video Monitor Kit in Medium Bag

Video Monitor Kit in Medium Bag


In the second medium size bag I store my Elvid 7” Video Monitor with connection cords, an LP-E6 battery, HDMI cable and the included hot shoe mount.


I’ve found the medium travel bag perfectly fits my backup solution. I’m able to store 2 1TB LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt drives along with two copies of USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt cables.


This bag is stuffed! The large bag contains all of the items I may need while using my laptop computer on the road. Included is an Apple wireless Mighty Mouse, 4-port power strip and surge protector, Google Chromecast, 16GB USB thumb drive, thunderbolt to HDMI adapter, headphones, USB expansion ports, along with each of every type of connection cable I may ever want or need.

Computer Connection Kit in Large Bag

Computer Connection Kit in Large Bag

Tool Kit in Original Case

Tool Kit in Original Case


The final bag I carry contains all of the chargers for each of the different battery types in my camera bag. This includes 4 chargers for my main body batteries along with a charger for my point and shoot Canon G15. I have also managed to fit my complete tool kit inside of this bag for on the road repairs.