English content Originally posted on ELLO
MY TOOLS AND APP OF CHOICE TO COLLECT AND STORE INSPIRATION
I don’t really know if I can call myself a Control Freak - probably yes. I’ve always been fascinated by optimizing processes and organization. I’m the kind of guy who will play a video game and focus only one specific character to reach the higher level and optimize each piece of equipment. It’s all the same in my everyday life, I don’t have a military organisation but I have a series of methods and systems (mostly based on GTD, Get things done which will allow me to free some mental space up in order to be in a positive mood for creation, concentration and decision making.
A large part of my daily routine is to read and collect some information about a lot of topics, and obviously a lot about photography. I have never been taught photography, nor I went to art school: all I know is self-training which occurred over time, practicing, reading articles and looking at images every day. This article, a bit special, try to explain how I have organized this collect and store process. As a mac nerd, pretty much all tools are on OS X and iOS, except a few that are available as cloud services.
First information source is a big list of RSS feeds that I have curated over time. It’s sorted depending on the big topics (« Photo / Design » vs « Tech News » for example) and images feeds are split and ordered by categories: « Frenchies » for local models and photographers, « Direct » for specific photographers I want to follow, « Wildlife » for more general inspirations dealing with models… and so on. It’s pretty much a classic content quality hierarchy, like a star classification under LR. The main idea is mostly to be able to mark as read a whole category very quickly if I didn’t have the time to read it during the day, otherwise, I would quickly feel overloaded. By sorting feeds from the most to the less inspiring, I can easily kill a whole bunch of the content if I don’t have time or energy to deal with it.
All that kind of stuff is managed by Feedly. When Google Reader died, I’ve switched to Feedly and right now I’m pretty happy with it. I’m not usually very fond of Cloud-based services, but I wanted to retrieve my feeds without having the need of any software running. To read them I use Tweetbot on Mac and on iOS. They’re not perfect apps, but there is no such thing apparently :/ To manage tweets I publish, I use Buffer app, mainly on my iPad because of the ability to use split view. I’m not a specialist about social networks, and I’m very cautious using them, so I’m sure other people would have lot of better advice dealing with them :)
Ah, I nearly forget: another important content source are podcasts that I’m listening to while I’m going to work or traveling. On iOS Overcast is my weapon of choice and I really love it. Usually, these podcasts have pretty well-documented show notes and a simple long press on the links allow me to store information very quickly while I’m walking in the street.
Generally speaking, I like to minimize the number of input trays to simplify how I manage sources. As soon I want to store something, I send it to Pocket. Pocket is a kind of global inbox, pretty much everything goes in to be classify later on. Only exception are articles I want to carefully read, which are sent directly to Instapaper.
Once in Pocket, I revise its content on a regular basis and I tag each item very quickly based on the kind of information it is or why I put it in here. It’s a very rough tagging system which will accelerate the dispatch later on. Pocket app is simple to use so I tag directly in the app, but there is no filters or smart folders so I use Readkit on my mac to get smart folders based on those tags. This way I sort stuff very easily between models portfolios, technical articles, inspiring pictures … Same thing for reading articles from Instapaper: archived items have to be sorted and filed and the rest is simply trashed.
Archiving / Storing
It’s more filling than archiving, but the idea is to have a place where inspirations and information are easy to find when I need them. And this depends on the content type.
For pictures, I have used Pixa for a long time, but the app is limited and not very much supported any more. Fortunately Pixave has been released and improves at each version. The main developer is easily reachable on Twitter and the app is doing a great job to capture. I catalog in there pictures depending on my projects and I build a kind of an inspiration database for poses or treatments. I have even started building mood boards in Pixave, because there is no great app for that on mac (Inboard barely convinced me for instance). To speed up the process I send every picture I want to collect in an ‘inbox’ folder. I review it every two weeks with a tagging system depending on the kind of picture (pose, location, color, accessories) and a filter system that shows untagged pictures in some categories. I must admit it takes a bit of time, but I need to be able to easily retrieve inspiration pictures during a shoot when the model and I are kind of stuck for instance. It’s a bit of fresh air when it’s needed and it needs to be available immediately at that very moment.
For contents linked to « in progress » searches or projects, I used Together app. But the look & feel and a will to rationalize my tools made me switched to Evernote. Evernote is the kind of tools that everybody talks about and that I never managed to correctly use until now. The true « game changer » on Evernote is the Web Clipper which is really efficient to save content from any web page. Evernote is available on multiple devices, properly integrated and synchronized. All contents I want to store for reference are in Evernote. In addition, I’m using it also to store models portfolios to prevent me from contacting the same model twice (I keep them in Pocket, then move them whenever the contact has been sent). I was initially using Keep Everything app for this particular usage, which is ok but I didn’t want to multiply the software I’m using.
During shoots, I often take notes on Day One about the current light setup, ideas to direct the model, and so on. I like how simple it is to write in markdown, add a picture and how it’s linked to particular date and time. Same things for my photo post-processing, experiments and any kind of very timed information. In order to store everything in the very same system, Day one notes are regularly exported to Evernote and stored in the project notebook. Day one is a kind of a diary, and I extract only research notes linked to a particular project to store in the main reference system, which is Evernote.
That’s pretty much all about my storing process. The only flaw is websites which are only available online, like Reddit for instance or photographer websites that I would like to dig into and for that, I have no particular tool. For now, they remain in Pocket, but I’m currently trying Safari reading list, which would be a kind of Instapaper but for sources available only as online material… By the way, if you have any better idea, let me know …
Bookmarks that are not linked to any particular research or project, the kind of information that may be useful someday or app/hardware wishlist are also a bit of a pain. Browser bookmarks are not good for me: I don’t want to choose one browser and stick with it, most of them don’t have any tag or smart collection feature anyway. I’m still using Stache on my mac to store them, but it’s not really efficient. There are tags, but there are no smart collections. Look and feel is pretty bad too. I’ve tested Pins and Little Bookmark box but for the latest the general experience is terrible, so I’m still looking for an alternative. Products based on Pinboard sounds interesting, but I don’t want to depend on a online storage for this kind of content. Here again, all input is more than welcome :)
General organisation and GTD
In my general organisation, all is based on the GTD principles, so I live by checklists and Omnifocus keeps all on track for me. The main aim is to keep a reliable system that will guarantee I won’t forget about anything and thus allow my brain to store no open loops. For shoots I have templates that will fill automatically projects, splitting into small tasks that I need to repeat at each shoot from sending a confirmation email (mainly automatized by Textexpander), to check the hardware the day before and keep in touch with people. Contact follow up is also made through OmniFocus so I can easily keep track of the current discussion status.
All my lists are kept in OmniFocus, except for recurring hardware check. Just like I create a list for stuff I don’t want to forget to bring with me while traveling, I have a few checklists for the stuff I need to bring with me when I’m shooting: charge batteries, check SD cards, take cables, music etc… All those lists are in Clear app which I use mainly on my phone. I have a reminder in Omnifocus the night before a shoot to check this list in Clear as part of the standard shooting template.
Ok, all this sounds very organized and regimented. It is, in some way, but the aim is not really to bring order. All those app and processes are parts of a system that frees space for other things. If I don’t have to remind myself if I have properly read an article or answer to this model, or to bring my audio cable before a shoot I more likely to think at the project, about what I want to put in and to gain mental space for creativity.
And you? What are your tools and processes?
This post has also been published on Ello: Original Link for the post