Workflow - "the sequence of industrial, administrative, or other processes through which a piece of work passes from initiation to completion". It is also a term that has become established in photography to describe the sequence of events that leads to the final image or print.
Do you have a professional workflow? This was a challenge posed recently and it was a worthwhile thought process to go through. It is worth some reflective practice - thinking about your photography so as to engage in a process of continuous learning.
I have made a living from photography for nearly 40 years. The first half in technical roles with Ilford (now Harman Technologies) and the second half facilitating print production. But does this mean I have a professional workflow?
It is certainly not a conventional one, such as that adopted by a neighbour who is an event photographer. Many of my recent images have gone for publication or presentation. Often that means that the workflow varies with the task in hand and that led me to consider the image above.
I should first tell you it is purposefully a fake. The challenge was to show that modern printing techniques can fake not only the appearance but the tactile nature of an established process. So the workflow started with some scientific measurements of a printed document, done with the help of colleagues at the University of Manchester. The next step was to create a simple computer generated image, in this case simply two lines. After a few print iterations we had the look and feel we needed. So while a print was produced, there was no conventional photography so far.
The print then went under a microscope and the final image shown here was generated. Sounds simple but it took several hours of attention to reveal the detail required for the publication. The final image came straight from the camera with no image processing as it was important to reflect the perceived image.
So an unconventional workflow; the print came before the final image. It then went to multiple customers and into a scientific paper to be read at an international conference.
Professional workflow? Customers and academics were content with the result. The paper passed peer review. My reflective practice suggests that it was.