Incorporating Copyright in My Workflow (Protect our work, it is your right)

Don't Tell Mamm'a.

Don’t Tell Mamm’a.

In a recent post about registering images I mentioned that I would post how I incorporate registering images into my workflow. Let me start by saying some people are never going to register, some want to and others already do. If you want to and you have no idea how to register I would recommend picking up a copy of the “The Copyright Zone” by Jack Reznicki & Ed Greenberg, this book is a must have and a great read for all photographers. So if you are never going to want to protect your work you can stop reading and move on to another blog post.

I made it a priority to register my images, same as someone who makes it a priority to say… eat healthy or go to the gym and workout on a regular basis. However I can tell you that incorporating registering images into my workflow is a whole lot easier than going to the gym. Here is a breakdown of my workflow. I take backup files that are unedited, make them into small JPEGs with a Lightroom preset and upload them to the www.copyright.gov site.

  • From my memory card images are imported to Adobe Lightroom. While I’m importing I will simultaneously make a second copy to a second (separate) hard drive and this will be used as a backup. Also while importing I may setup a collection (available in Lightroom CC) to sync with Lightroom mobile if needed. (See Screenshot 1)

    Screenshot 1 Making a backup download.

    Screenshot 1 Making a backup download.

  • All photos are keyworded, nothing crazy here just simple keywords that are strictly relevant to the images. Model’s name/s, location, shoot theme or project names are all I do, just something so I can find the images a year later if I need to. Also I have my copyright info added using a preset metadata file.
  • I also have presets metadata profiles for each camera. Each profile has a different label color so I can denote which camera took what photos on the same day at the same shoot. Maybe I have the 5D MKIII and the 6D, plus a point & shoot all shooting the same day.
  • Then I move onto star rating and removing blurry or not useable photos.

My work flow continues on after this, but I think you see and get the feel that I have a plan of what & how I do. I will say that my workflow may not work for you at all and that is ok. Workflow is a personal preference such as shoes, clothes and food are to us of all. I put all photos in folders by the date they were shot, this works for me. Some photographers put files in folders by client name or project name because that works for them and I know you may have your personal preference as well.

But let’s go back and look at those backup files on the second hard drive. When you choose this option using Lightroom the one thing you have to keep in mind is the “backup” will lump all files downloaded together into one folder. I will explain; Example I shoot a band at a club and I start shooting at 9:00pm at night on Saturday May 24, 2014, but my last shot is at 1:00am in the morning and I am now into a second date or day of Sunday May 25, 2014. When I download using Lightroom my primary files will go into two separate folders because of the two separate dates. However the backup file will be labeled “Imported on Sunday, May 25, 2014” and it will contain photos from both days. I mention this because it is important to know when looking for your backup files and it can be very confusing if say; you were on a weeklong vacation and downloaded all your photos at one time.

Ok so let’s get to it. I use the backup files because they are untouched and unedited in anyway. Registered photos need not be edited; all edits of that image are derivatives and you can find out more about derivatives in Jack & Ed’s book. My primary download may have had editing presets added and therefore they are derivatives. So this is why I use the backup files.

You will need to set up a folder that will hold the files that are ready to go to www.copyright.gov, I call mine “Ready for Copyright 2015.”

Next, in Lightroom you will make an “Export Preset” here is a screenshot of mine named “Copyright.” (see screenshot 2) Files for upload do not need to be full size; they are for reference and just to prove that it is the photo you say it is. My preset is as follows; 700 pixels on the long side, 72 ppi and I limit the file size to 500k with output as a JPEG. I may also ask Lightroom to rename the file, but I will always retain the original file number on the end. Example; original file is “_MG_1060” I will rename it to Kendall_Daffodil_1060. Always keep the original file number in the extension. Now with your preset made you can select the photos and send them to the “Ready for Copyright” folder you created. If uploading more than one set of photos I would recommend using subfolders inside of your “ready for Copyright” folder to keep track of what you have uploaded. I also make a folder called “Upload Complete” and after each set is uploaded I will move the folder to “Upload Complete” and at this point I know those files are finished. It may look like a lot when it is written out, but using a preset is very time saving. Please remember to treat this process with importance, always double check what you are doing. Even though it is a preset I still make sure all settings and file extensions are correct before uploading to the copyright office. Once you hit the “upload” button on the website that’s it and you cannot retrieve the files.

Note the info in the green fields.

Note the info in the green fields.

Now don’t take my workflow as the Holy Grail, you may find something easier and that is great. But if you are going to register images you really do need to give it thought and come up with a plan. I set aside $55 in my budget to register every 3-4 months. If it is a paid job such as a wedding or a project shoot I work the price into the cost of the job and I may register those images all by themselves. Also know that I may not run my “Copyright” preset right away. Because I may be under time constraints to edit and get working on my files I will go back at a later when I have free time and run my preset. Because I am working off of unedited files everything is always there just waiting to open and run the preset.  Protect your work it is your right.

Thanks for reading.

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