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The Tour Photographer Workflow

The Tour Photographer Workflow by Matty Vogel

In a job where time is especially scarce and organization is vital, your tour photography workflow can make or break your sanity on the road. I’ve spent 5 years on tour with bands and artists, improving my workflow to be as efficient and productive as possible.

The basic tenets of a good workflow are quick editing, timely & responsible photo delivery, and safe, organized backups. With a good system in place, you should be able to spend 22 hours of a day shooting, enjoying yourself, or sleeping, and an hour or two on your computer doing the hard part of your job.

The more time you can allocate to shooting or enjoying your life on tour, the happier and more effective you’re going to be at your job as a tour photographer. Your job can, and should, feel like you’re traveling the world with your friends. If you take your workflow seriously for a tiny chunk of time every day, the rest of it will hardly feel like work at all.

When setting out on tour for the first time, my workflow was of the trial-and-error variety that resulted in wasted time, bad habits, and irresponsible handling of photos. Years of experience touring bars, clubs, and arenas all over the world have refined my workflow to what feels like the best it can be at the moment. I love sharing my workflow, and for a niche job like ours, there aren’t many resources out there to light the way for those just getting into it.

One of the most popular posts I’ve ever made is a workflow walkthrough from a few years ago. I look back at it now and can’t believe how much my process has improved… it almost feels irresponsible leaving it up, but the feedback I still get to this day motivates me to want to write this updated and vastly improved version of that post.

I outline everything from pre-tour prep to my everyday workflow to my post-tour archiving, in as much detail as I can. If you have any questions about this post or my workflow, don’t hesitate to reach out. You can find my contact info here on my site.

Workflow: Pre-Production

When you finally leave on tour, time becomes a scarce resource. And even when you do have a few hours to spare, I think you’d be insane to want to spend it in front of your computer instead of shooting, exploring new cities, or hanging with your touring buddies. Trying to put off the pre-production work and doing it on the fly usually results in messy file management, bad archiving, and risky storage practices.

A lot of photographers reading this are about to head out on their first tour, or are already touring music photographers but maybe want to see how someone else’s workflow looks like. I have a hard time thinking of many better jobs in the world than this, so while you’re out there you should hopefully be enjoying it. If you set aside a few hours with your computer before you hit the road, you can knock out all the prep-work possible so you can make the most use of your time on tour.

The software you need:

The hardware you need: