Accessing Your Analytical Side

After my last semi-rant post about how geography impacts one's ability to be creative, I thought it would only make sense to follow it up with a post about accessing your analytical side, for the purposes of improving your process. For this post, I'm going to talk specifically about the Microsoft Office program Excel. 

If your goal is to work as a product photographer either full time or as a freelancer, chances are you are going to run into an Excel spreadsheet. It might be a printed hard copy, or a digital file, but it's still a spreadsheet. This spreadsheet will serve as your shot list, and hopefully contain everything you need to name your files according to what the production team needs. 

If they give you a printed copy, you COULD spend a bunch of time typing file names it, but that gets a little exhausting, especially when shooting a line of athletic shoes, where the files names could look like this:


This can get a little old when shooting 50-75 samples in a day. But there is hope! If you are willing to take a little time to learn how to use Excel and a few basic functions, you can make yourself a digital shot list, from which you can create your file names and copy and paste into your capture program (which for the purposes of this article is Capture One, and really thats what it should be anyway). 

The list you received might look something like this:

For the purposes of this article, the production team needs the images to be named: Style Number-Color

So we have our sample list, and we know that production needs the images to be named with the style number and the color, so like this: 1442-TAN

We COULD type that in manually, or we could learn a quick formula to auto create our image names so we just have to copy and paste into Capture One. 

A pretty simple formula to create the image name you need looks like this:

The formula you can use to create the image name you need

Basically Excel works with formulas that allow you to reference parts of the spreadsheet and use the content in the cell referenced. So what this formula does is takes the content of cell A6 (note the row and column designations) then with the "&" sign you are saying to add the following into the formula. You put your dash in quotes to show that you mean to add the text "-" and not a minus sign, then the content of cell C6 which is the color name. 

This is what you end up with:

The result is the image name you need for Capture One. 

Now all thats left is to copy and paste the image name into the "Next Capture Naming" field in Capture One, and there you go. Over the course of the day, you will save yourself the time of manually typing AND your names will be accurate to your shot list, no typos. 

This might be a little over the head of a person who has no prior experience with Excel at all, in which case it would be worth checking out any number of Excel 101 tutorials online (like this one). 

Once you have your shot list with all your image names worked out, you can do a lot with the list to help manage your workflow and give you some insights into your workload on the fly. 

Hopefully this is helpful to some. If so, and if you'd be interested in more posts like this, send me a message, or leave a comment.