A workflow is an abstract of the steps of a process. Most workflows are used to provide plans for workers who require guidance to complete projects. Imaging workflow is any ordered process that results in edited or optimized images, such as photographs, illustrations, or film stills. In this type of workflow, these visual images are created and then passed along in a series of processing steps within an organization. Imaging workflow can be used by photographers, art directors, advertisers, and any other professional who can benefit from developing a series of steps that can optimize processes related to working with images.
When an imaging workflow is developed, it is designed to guide day to day operations. Professionals can automate workflow, which can reduce the chances of human error and provide clear guidelines for individuals in separate departments who communicate with one another. At the same time, managers may find that as new software is introduced and as new projects present unique challenges, workflow can be altered and optimized.
Imaging workflow usually begins with a source. For photographers, a photograph is the first step of a workflow. Digital cameras allow users to upload pictures directly into image manipulation programs. Artists who may paint or draw images can use scanners that scan images into a program.
The next stages in an imaging workflow may include manipulation of an image. This can be performed by a photographer or artist or by an editor. A user may need to crop an image to exclude irrelevant elements in the background. Elimination of spots and other image imperfections may also occur in this stage. Adjustments to color, saturation, and lighting may also be performed by a user in this step of a process.
In industries such as advertising, an artist or editor might then pass an image to a designer. A designer is responsible for deciding how an image is used. If an image is part of a larger advertisement, he or she might determine how to add text or frame an image. It is also common for a designer to alter colors and perform functions such as airbrushing that can help an image to appear cleaner.
An important part of imaging workflow is the kind of software that is used. Amateur artists and photographers may find that basic image manipulation programs are sufficient for cleaning up a photograph and achieving basic effects. Professionals who work in industries such as graphic design and event photography may need to incorporate several different programs into their workflow. Some types of software may offer the best color correction capabilities, while other types can be better for sharpening images.