Here we’re going to discuss the workflow to make using your dental photographs practical, as they’re kind of useless unless you actually DO something with them, right? And this is IMO THE single biggest challenge in dental photography, because this is where choosing the right software to accomplish the tasks you want is most critical. This page will be a work in progress, as I want to go ahead and start getting the concepts out there, but will be adding material for quite a while.
After You Take the Pictures, Then What?
I’ve recently described the 8 most common uses for dental photography, so now I will describe the order in which I do things that allow me to accomplish them all. Obviously, there are a tremendous number of variations possible, and if you don’t use the same software, you will have to choose either (1) to get this software, or (2) find a similar route with your software. Please bear in mind, however, that this process is evolving on a regular basis as software changes, so as someone once said, “If you quote me, you must date me.”
BTW – I will be adding video tutorials for many of these steps within the next 1-2 months. If you don’t want to wait that long, you can sign up for Lynda.com, Adobe.com, or KelbyTraining.com (among others) for truly professional video tutorials, although you will have to pay for them on a monthly or yearly basis, and they are not specifically geared towards dentists.
BTW #2: I know this will seem like a lot of steps at first, but after you’ve done it a few times, you can whip through it in less than 1 minute per group of photos.
Step 1: Get The Pictures of the Teeth into Photoshop Lightroom
- Open Adobe Photoshop Lightroom
- Remove memory card from the camera and plug it into a card reader.
- Choose “Import”, and when the Import screen opens, make sure the source selected is the memory card.
- Using the “CTRL-right click” or “Shift-right click” steps to select the photos you want to import
- Uncheck all photos you don’t want imported in this batch (this is really important, if you don’t want to import all photos into the same folder!!!!)
- In the “Apply during Import” section on the right, in the “Keywords” box, type in the appropriate keywords
- Click “Import” to bring the photos into the appropriate folder
Step 2: Import into your Practice Management Software if Needed
Honestly, I do not do this step EXCEPT for pictures that my staff may need for insurance purposes. It is not actually necessary, though, as you can simply Share the folder across the network, and they can go to the pictures through Windows Explorer to grab screenshots, etc. for NEA attachments or to print. We use Apteryx for our digital x-rays, and there is fortunately an easy shortcut to drag/drop them from Windows Explorer directly into Apteryx.
Step 3: Select the Ones You Think You’ll Want to Use
My experience has been this: if I don’t select the images to be used for later marketing (especially for ortho, when the After Pictures won’t be available for many months, even years) right away, I am far less likely to go back later and find them, even with the great search capabilities in Lightroom. So my 3 suggestions:
- Use a 1-Star rating
- Use a Color selection
- Use a specific keyword, i.e. “Marketing”
- Immediately add the photos to a “Collection”, i.e. Veneers, Whitening, Fillings, Bridges, etc. These are very helpful when you want to batch-process photos.
If you use 1 or more of these techniques to “mark” the images you really like, it will be FAR easier to find them in the future, and the whole point of this workflow is to make it easy!
Step 4: Editing Your Pictures if Needed
Most of the time, I don’t do any editing, and this is a whole topic unto itself. However, if necessary, this is when I will use the editing tools in Lightroom or in Photoshop to crop, brighten/darken, etc.
Step 5: Outputting the Photos in a Usable Format
Here’s where the fun starts and the power of Lightroom or a comparable program comes into play vs. a dental program. With Lightroom, you can create ALL of the following media:
- MPEG4 videos of a series of pictures.
- Create & print customized templates for collages, posters, etc.
- Publish to online photo services such as Picasa, Flickr, SmugMug, Kodak, Facebook, WordPress, and more.
- Create either Flash or HTML web galleries with a few simple customizations, then send the whole gallery to your webmaster to be included in your website.
- Export to a Windows 7 photo gallery that can be used as Wallpaper or Screensavers in your operatories.
- Batch photos to a folder to be synced to your iPad and then included in the DDS GP or DDS GP YES! apps for presenting to patients.
- Batch photos to a folder to be included in a PowerPoint presentation that are already sized for easy import without bogging down your computer.
- Send a bunch of pictures directly to Gmail to send to your lab for shade matching