Ipad Workflow

In this post I’m going to go through one of my image editing workflows that I’m starting and hoping to use more often with some of my work so to that end if you’re not interested in photography workflows – and lets be honest it’s not an amazingly exciting subject – it might be best to jump past this post now and have a look at all my amazing pictures instead! Well compared to ‘photography workflows‘ they are amazing. Possibly? Maybe?

Now normally these are the kind of posts I normally stay clear of partly through a distinct lack of interest in writing them and partly because anyone who does photography for a living will have a way of working that suits them and their requirements so there wasn’t really much point.

But now I thought I’d share my workflow for iPad as I believe that in some cases using an iPad for the editing and transmitting of pictures is easier and quicker – and lighter – than a laptop.

So to that end I’m going to run through what I do using an iPad Air 2.

Now before we get into the meat and bones of this I should just say that how I do it here may not be how you want to do it. It might not suit the purpose you need or indeed give you a picture at the end that fits the requirement of your client. That’s fine. I’m not trying to change the world with this stuff. However I’ve been trawling through blogs and websites on and off since I got my iPad trying to find decent explanations of an iPad workflow and I’ve found quite a few but felt I should do my own.

I read and re-read these posts and gradually tweaked my way of working accordingly so I guess this is a kind of a ‘pay it back’ thing where maybe this post might help someone else who is looking to streamline how they do business. I should also point out that I’m not an iPad-app guru! Nor was I a hardware engineer for Apple in a former life so this will err more on the side of ‘iPad workflow by dumbass northern bloke’ as opposed to ‘analytical and theoretical study of the iPad and the benefits to photographers’! So bare that in mind when you read on.

Last chance for those who don’t want to read this workflow stuff.

Last chance to get out while you can…?

Ah well, don’t say I didn’t warn you…


So what’s the craic with this iPad thing then. Well my current workflow is shoot the job – download pictures to my 15″ MacBook Pro – edit and caption with a combination of Photo Mechanic and Photoshop (and Lightroom for my own stuff) – then connect to my phone or wifi dongle thingy and transmit. This combination works and gets a picture from camera to picture desk in a relatively quick time in the way they want it and with minimum of editing.

I don’t do mad edits on my pictures. Most of my stuff is aimed at news and feature work so it’s obviously bad form to remove ‘stuff’ or add ‘stuff’ from pictures and it’s something I just don’t do so when I do my own stuff I apply the same principle as well. Minimum and basic editing. None of that plug-in stuff for me as I just don’t need it or understand half of it to be honest.

My main ‘client’ I shoot for now is Getty Images. I shoot news and features for them and I’m on two contracts depending on the job, budgets or news value etc. They are Stringer or Contributor. For those who don’t know and from a financial point of view as a freelance the ‘stringer’ contract means I do the job, get a fixed day rate, mileage and expenses and that’s it sorted. The ‘contributor’ contract means I only make any money from the job if a picture subsequently sells and then I get a percentage of the image fee.

Stringer jobs are generally better as you know what money you’re going to get whereas the contributor stuff might be a long hard and full day of shooting and editing and you might not get anything used. Them’s the breaks! But some jobs are useful to cover as contributor but then you also have to get your head around the fact that you might need to consider when shooting any future sales to other markets – But that’s a post for a different time but basically when I shoot for Getty under either of those two methods then I have to use Photoshop in my workflow as there are a series of ‘actions’ that I need to use to deliver the final edited and captioned picture to them in the way they want it.

So this process isn’t achievable on an iPad yet so I can only use my iPad workflow if I send pictures to another agency who I send stuff to – London News Pictures – or if I’m doing a local paper shift.

So this means that my iPad workflow has taken longer to streamline and get sorted as I’m not needing it every day but I still want to keep on top of it for when things with Getty change when they introduce new software which is something they have in the pipeline.

So I’m currently using an iPad Air 2.

I have Lightroom (light) which is the free LR app but it still lets me edit all I need to and Filterstorm Pro as my main editing apps. The FSP version I use isn’t the ‘Neue’ version of this app but they come together in a bundle on the App Store and the older one seemed to easier to my technically challenged brain so I went with that. When I have time I will dig deeper into the ‘Neue’ version and see what it can do. I also have ‘Photgene’ on there but that’s just for very quick, one off non-news stuff for putting on Facebook and other social meeja occasionally.


My workflow follows the following routine:

1 – Transfer pictures to iPad (I use the card or usb connector generally. Occasionally I will wifi pictures to the iPad using the wifi connection on my Fuji’s but generally it’s quicker just downloading the lot onto the iPad)

2 – If it’s only a few pictures then that’s fine if however there are a lot I will generally go through them on iPad and bin any that are obviously crap. This process saves time in the long run when editing because when I go to the next stage…

3 – Open Lightroom. All pictures on the camera roll are brought in to LR. This takes seconds and isn’t a time issue. I then edit the pictures I want in LR and export them back to the camera roll.

4 – In the camera roll I select those edited pictures and dump them in a folder I’ve already created on my iPad called, ‘FSP’ as these are the ones I need to caption and ultimately transmit.

5 – Open FSP and ingest those pictures in the folder. Select them all then rename them all and batch caption them all. Then individually tweak the captions. Choose my export method (usually ftp). Confirm the output size and then hit the send button and send them on their merry way.

Editing in Lightroom:

Now all I’m going to do in LR is edit my pictures. That’s it. Naming and captions come at the end is FSP.

So I open LR. Tap on ‘LR photos’ at top left and it opens the main page. Then go through the pictures you want to edit.


There is a crop and/or straighten option in the symbols at top right of display…


Tap on ‘Light’ and you get your exposure and other adjustments. Explore the others as you can adjust WB under ‘colour’ and sharpness under ‘detail’ etc so best to have a play and see what you might need…


Then tapping the square symbol with an arrow pointing upwards situated at the top right of the screen display you get a pop up box where you can ‘save to camera roll’ and you will be given options for the size. I just save as ‘maximum available’. The picture is then saved as you edited it at full size back in the camera roll.


Continue and edit all your stuff.

When I’m done done I close LR down and go back to camera roll.

I select my edited stuff which appears as the most recent in the camera roll and ‘add to’ the ‘FSP’ folder I created at the start.


Then I open Filterstorm Pro…

The folder I created should be visible in the folders as it opens. (If it isn’t hit the arrow in the dotted square and it’ll refresh)


Double-tap the FSP folder and my pictures are visible.


Select them all. The 4x squares at far top-right does this for them all or you can manually select by tapping each one.


At the left of the display you can see ‘Export’ – ‘Image’ – ‘Library’ tabs. Tap on ‘Image’.

Then tap the ‘Filename’ tab on the left under the IPTC title. In the box that pops up create the batch re-name you want but leave a ‘-‘ at the end so that the autofill image number; 1, 2, 3 etc goes in, which it will do automatically.


When you tap ‘done’ on the box that’s popped up your image names will all change accordingly.

For batch captioning there are a couple of options. Either way you need to go to bottom left of the display where it says ‘Keywords’. There are a couple of things you need to do. In ‘settings’ you can choose what IPTC fields you want. I just green them all.


In ‘sets’ you can either choose from a pre-done set or using the ‘+’ symbol create your own. Takes a bit of time with all the generic stuff you might need but once done you can save it and use it next time. I’m not going to screen grab all the options as if you’re still reading at this point you’ll know what I’m on about and what you need to put in your own. I have pre-done the ones I use most often so it saves loads of time during a shoot.

Once your IPTC field appears in the options available to you on the left hand side which they will do if you pre-create them then tapping it will automatically add the info to all your pictures.


I then de-select all pictures using the 4x boxes at the top right. Not the very end ones, the next ones in – the black squares with white surround in my pics here.

I then go through each picture individually and tap it once to highlight it and then tap and hold to bring up the individual caption for the pic and type in a specific caption as required.


Once I’m done with each picture then all pictures at this stage are now edited, re-named and captioned and are ready to file.


So tapping on the ‘Export’ tab in the line of ‘Export-Image-Library’ on the left opens up the options to send pictures. The ‘+’ at the bottom of the list allows you to add different options so have a look at these and add as applicable, preferably before the shoot when you have time. Once again when they’re done they stay there for future use.


So say you want ftp your pics out you tap on the option that appears that you want – and you can create as many as you want – and tap ‘Send Photos’. This opens a box where you can select the max size to go out – I generally go for around the 4-5Mb range or so. There is a jpeg quality slider you can use to adjust if needed and some other options as well as an ‘FTP Folder’ option if you need to create a separate folder on the ftp server for your stuff.


Once I’m happy I hit ‘Send Photos’ at the bottom of that box and we’re on. There is a status bar that appears over at bottom left as it does it’s thing and then that’s pretty much it.

All I will do later after the job is sent and done is do a bit of house keeping to get rid of any unwanted pics from camera roll or maybe upload some to dropbox or another folder so I can do something with them later and then I delete them or whatever just to make it easier for the next set to come in.

Phew…!! That took about 50 -times longer to type than to do but it’s quite easy once you’re used to the buttons and for news or features then it’s really quite fast.


So what problems have I found???

Well in no particular order…

Archiving is different to how I normally do it as I normally dump each job in its entirety onto two hard drives at the end of the day so I’ve got at least 2 back-ups. Archiving from iPad means having to use dropbox or whatever to store them in. Not a bad thing just different.

I find editing with my finger a little strange! I think iPad Pro and that stylus thing would be easier but I do prefer a mouse but obviously that’s not an option with the iPad. Also I’m left-handed so find it a little awkward especially in LR as it comes set up for a right-handed user.

I do a lot of blogs posts from jobs and using iPad need to change how I usually do this but it’s not the end of the world.

The charge on the iPad holds out well but I carry an EC Technology Power Bank just in case.

If you go through the renaming and captioning in FSP and then export to Camera Roll or export to dropbox or whatever then it seems to strip all the names and captions away so be aware of that. I’m not sure if there is a way around this?


So that’s about it. I think? Although I might have missed something so feel free to comment or whatever if there are any questions but as I say this kind of works for some of what I need to send at the minute. It will need tweaking as I go I’m sure or as other apps become available or if the requirements change but for now it works quite well.



Pictures (c) Ian Forsyth 2017

No usage without arrangement


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