My workflow for sports photography uses the same two programs that I see most of the other guys working pro games use: Photo Mechanic and Lightroom (or Photoshop). I could do an entire post on why Photo Mechanic is so awesome, but for today’s tip, I just want to focus on one of it’s features and how to use a workaround to get something similar into your Lightroom-Only workflow (for Mac users only — more on why in a moment).
First, the Photo Mechanic Feature

When you’re covering a pro-game, getting your images up to the wire quickly is absolutely imperative, and so many shooters (myself included) quickly look at the image from each play and tag our keepers right then in-camera while we’re still out on the field. We do this by pressing the “lock” button our camera, which is designed to keep that image from being accidentally erased, but Photo Mechanic recognizes that locked image as a “tagged image.” Because of that, when you download your memory card into your computer at halftime, you can ask Photo Mechanic to only show you your tagged images. That’s incredibly helpful because instead of wading through 1,000 or 2,000+ images trying to find the good shots up upload to the wire, PM shows you just the ones you’ve already tagged when you were out on the field, so you’re WAY ahead of the game. Sadly, Lightroom does not (though I’ve been talking directly with Adobe these past couple of day to see if this can be added in a future update, but for now, it’s can’t).
Now, the workaround

So far, we’ve only figured out how to do this on a Mac — we couldn’t figure out how to pull this off on a Windows machine yet, but if somebody knows, we’d love it if you’d post it here in the comment. Now, before I get into the tip — I’m aware there are plug-ins and scripts you can add to Lightroom that will do this, probably more elegantly than what I’m going to show you here today, but this is at least one way to “get there” without add-ons.
We call it “The Sneaky Pete Play” (because my buddy Pete Collins figured out most of this workaround)

Now, before I lay this out, there is one part where you’re going to want to freak out, but don’t — your images aren’t in any danger because you still have an entire full backup. Just so you know that’s coming. OK, take a deep breath: here we go (remember, this is a workaround, and a tiny bit clunky at that, but it will still achieve pretty much the same thing — you getting to work on your tagged images without looking through thousands of images to find the keepers).

Don’t import the photos on your memory card  into Lightoom. Instead, just drag the folder of images directly onto your hard drive (or external drive) so it copies them there. If you look in the folder above, you can see a couple of the locked files (a small lock icon appears in the bottom left corner of the thumbnail. See files 150 and 152 above). Just to reiterate — I copied this files onto my computer from the memory card.

Click on any one of those thumbnail on your computer and press Command-A to select them all. Now click on any thumbnail and drag the whole bunch of photos (even if there’s a thousand — it moves as easily if there were two) and drag them into the trash. Don’t freak out — remember you have a full backup on your memory card, but you won’t have to use it anyway. So, just drag them all into the trash can on your desktop. The warning dialog above will appear letting you know some of the images are locked, and it’s asking if we want to move those locked files into the trash, too? Our answer is “NO!” but there is no “NO” so first turn on the “Apply to All” checkbox then click the Skip button as shown above. That way, only the unlocked photos goes into the trash can (the Apply to All checkbox keeps you from clicking the “Skip” button for every locked photo in your folder).

STEP THREE: (above)
Now when you look back in your folder, all that is left is your locked files (the ones you hit the lock button on during the game).

Select all the images left in that folder and drag those straight onto the Lightroom Dock Icon and it brings up the import window for just those images. Now you can work on just your tagged keepers, just like in Photo Mechanic — But you’re not done yet. There’s one important final step that brings this full circle.

STEP FIVE (above)
Go back to the Finder and before you do anything else, just press the keyboard shortcut “Command-Z” (for “undo”) and all those images you put in the trash jump right back into that original folder again. That’s it!
Now, how long does this process take once you’ve copied the images onto your computer? Well, I thought you might ask that, so I timed it using the stopwatch on my phone. It took 21-seconds.
This is one you have to try once — it actually works better than it sounds. Thanks to Pete Collins for helping me figure this one out, and again, if you’ve got a similar workaround for Windows without using an add-on to Lightroom, we’d love to hear it.
Hope you sports photographers found that helpful, and here’s wishing you lots of great shots this weekend (I’ll be shooting the Steelers/Falcons game in Atlanta on Sunday up in the Georgia Dome).
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