We show you how to use Photo Mechanic to cut your workflow down considerably.
At times, photographers need to go through their images fast without any faffing around. Events and newsworthy topics need to go out ASAP with all the relevant metadata included.
Some image editors have these features, but they aren’t the fastest. Photo Mechanic is the program you need.
What Is Photo Mechanic
Photo Mechanic 5 is not an image editor from company Camera Bits. It is a front-end software that allows you to upload, browse, organize, manage, tag and export your images.
There are a few tools, such as crop, which you can use. But you won’t be able to edit the exposure, color or sharpness on your images.
Photo Mechanic was created as an in-between program for sports photographers and photojournalists. These fields have a very fast turn around, and Photo Mechanic was able to keep up with culling and adding metadata.
It is a fantastic program, even if you aren’t shooting for clients who need images very fast. Its operating platform works well for photographers who have hundreds of images to cull.
Right now, we have Photo Mechanic 5. This photo sorting software costs $150 and you can get a free trial from their website.
Speeding Up Your Workflow
4. Use Photo Mechanic to Cull
Culling is the term photographers use to go through images from one session fast, selecting only the best images. If you photograph portraits, events or sports, this is a usual part of editing.
For example, if you need 75 images for a wedding, you won’t take only 75 images. What would happen if 50% of them are out of focus, or the composition is off? You are probably going to get a letter from a lawyer.
You are more likely to take 750 images, reducing them to the best 10%. This is what the client will receive. But getting through all of these images could take a very long time.
With Photo Mechanic, you have access to your raw files immediately. PM works from a browser rather than importing your images like Adobe Lightroom needs.
Lightroom is great for organization and editing, but there can be a huge initial wait and lag time between images.
Once you open your folder of images in Photo Mechanic, you get a huge, full resolution preview. Double-click on the first image to enlarge it.
Have your right hand next to the arrows on the keyboard. Index finger on the left-arrow, ringer finger on the right-arrow. This lets you flick between the images fast.
Your left hand needs to sit around the ‘T’ key. When you come to an image you want to keep, press ‘T’. This will add a ‘tag’ and will allow you to select these at the end.
This much faster than deleting the images, as it takes extra time to do it one by one.
3. Import From All Memory Cards at Once
One huge benefit of using Photo Mechanic is you can import your images from many places at once. With Adobe Lightroom, you can do this too, except it’s a little more hidden and complicated.
By importing two or more memory cards simultaneously, you save time. You don’t need to keep pulling-out and pushing-in the cards one by one.
Simply select both cards in the import window, and away you go.
2. Use the Code Replacements Feature
If you are photographing sports or events where there are a lot of very difficult names, code replacements will really help with your captioning.
Let’s say you are photographing an Eastern European football match, and everyone’s name is at least 30 characters long. These names need to be included alongside the image so the news outlet has the correct information.
Code replacements allow you to use short versions of people’s names. For example, an image of yours shows two footballers; Nándor Hidegkuti and Jakub Błaszczykowski.
Instead of typing these names out every time, or copy and pasting, you can assign codes to the names. So, Nándor Hidegkuti becomes NH24 (shirt number) and Jakub Błaszczykowski becomes JB15.
This will cut down on the time spent adding these names to each and every image. You will need to use a word editor beforehand, then go to Edit>Settings>Set Code Replacements to import them.
After that it is just a matter of clicking on the Image Content and placing the code replacement.
You can use multiple code replacement files, allowing you to keep the previous codes for the next matches they appear in.
1. Using Photo Mechanic 5 and Lightroom Classic CC Together
One of the biggest things in how LR and PM differ, is they use different buttons and colors. These ‘flags’ work towards culling and/or selecting images for faster editing later.
If Lightroom is to be among your image’s final destinations, you can easily have them working on the same page.
This following workflow uses Photo Mechanic first and then Lightroom. This allows culling and then editing.
Photo Mechanic 5
In Photo Mechanic, open the files you want to work on.
Go to Preferences>General>Assign Default Application. Find [Adobe Lightroom] and click OK. This ensures the colors you are using are the same as those in Lightroom.
Next, stay in the preferences panel. Go to General> Click on the lightning bolt >Adobe Lightroom.
While in the preferences panel, head over to Accessability>Single Key Shortcuts>0-5 Sets Rating. This allows you to keep the same set ratings as Lightroom.
If you press numbers 1-5 in PM, it will give it stars according to the number you press.
Open Lightroom Classic CC and open the same folder/files like the ones in Photo Mechanic.
First of all, you want to ensure the images are synced across both platforms. Go to Metadata>Read Metadata From File. You will be given a dialog box, warning you that this process can’t be undone. Press OK.
This process takes the metadata, color and star ratings from Photo Mechanic 5 and allows Lightroom to read them. This keeps all of your editing intact.
You should see your grid view in the Library module with images showing rating and colors. Edit from here and export as you see fit.