Work flow is something that needs to be worked out. It can start with a design / plan or idea, but ultimately it must be used repeatedly in the field to validate. My initial stabs at a workflow were based mostly on what happens once I press the shutter - ingest, organize, cull, raw processing, post processing, retouching if necessary, output, archive. This all happens inside the digital world, mostly on my laptop.
This seemed well thought at the time, but I have been getting more in touch with what workflow really means, and none of that is it. None of that ever created a photograph, it only handled a photograph. Workflow is truly about creating photographs.
This is an entirely different problem than what I listed above - What is my workflow to create a photograph, then get the photograph to my intended viewer? I can just see how far off the mark I was, because while I may have been well intentioned at the time, I knew nothing about the creative process.
I don't think that I can adequately describe my creative process, but I do know that I actually have one, where I didn't before, I had a digital handling process. As I think about it, perhaps creative process is the wrong description - maybe creative discipline is better, meaning the things that I do and allow for when creating work. Here it goes:
I look at a lot of photographs. Photobooks have become a foundation in educating myself on what good photography is. My book collection grows, not because I want a collection, but because I have an appetite for imagery. Regarding social media, I think for the most part it has a negative effect on my perceptions of good photography, meaning it actually damages and degrades my ability to know a good photography when I see it. It's junk food. So I rely mostly on books.
I do a lot of research. This isn't necessarily related to photography - right now, my biggest digging is in World War II history. History, a subject I disdained as a young fool, has become something I feed on. There is much in it that informs me about the nature of man, not necessarily by what is written about history, but by also knowing who gets to write it. Much has been covered, discarded, destroyed or denied. Digging in an effort to find a truth requires work and a questioning attitude. This exercises an aspect of my mind which directly feeds how I approach work.
I sit around a lot, thinking. I like to think. I like to ask the question, "what if?" and run it through to its end. This head work allows me to get deep into whatever I am studying, working or questioning and come up with tidbits that inform an approach to investigating a question. I also like to find or develop associations between seemingly disparate entities. This helps me to see the relationships between things which is hugely beneficial in creative work.
I write. This is more recent in earnest, but it reminds me of a great saying when I was working in knowledge management "How do I know what I know unless I tell you?" I use writing to get my thoughts out, organize them, and figure out what I know, and more importantly what I don't know. Writing engages the brain differently, I think differently, there are different mechanics to writing, different sequences - the work comes out differently than when photographing. I feel that they are complementary to each other, just like music, and that the more I write, the more it informs creative work.
I recently started reading. I was never a reader, but I have been taking it up more as there is a power creative component in reading the words, then creating the imagery in my mind to comprehend what I am reading. I need to start reading some of the classics, but I don't think I'm ready. I have been collecting several books on photography, mostly from photographers on photography, and books on their creative processes, how they do what they do.
I talk about photography with those who are likeminded. I like to find those that are digging into the issues that question the validity of photography. I love getting into these conversations.
I allow myself to be obsessed.
Here as some don'ts:
I don't watch tv. I stopped watching tv in 2004. Watching tv is amusement which is dangerous for the creative mind - amusement has no creative work in it at all. In being amused, we simply suspend ourselves and go along for the ride. This is bad training for the brain, to disconnect.
I don't drink, don't do drugs. Not because I am against them, but because I choose to spend my time on creative work. I discovered last year that when I needed a break from photography, I picked up my camera and went shooting. I shoot all kinds of different things, so it is easy to get away and just shoot something else. But photography is not a job for me - it is how I ask questions and look for answers. So I don't need a break from it.
I don't do much outside of photography. When I was younger, I tried everything. Extreme sports, music, auto-x, motorcycles, all kinds of stuff. It was fun. But I have come to learn that if I want to be good at something, I have to focus on that thing, and remove stuff that distracts from it. Except coffee.
I don't let photography take precedent over life. Life first, photography second. But it really doesn't have to be a struggle between the two. It is okay to have a life that is photography.