As a set photographer, you may have one of the best jobs in film. You get beautifully lit and staged scenes to capture, plenty of downtime to get to know everyone you’re working with, and the joy of bringing your work in each day with an audience that’s destined to love it. It’s fantastic work when you can get it, but you need to book and manage several films to make a solid living. You’ll have to get the jobs yourself, but Airtable can help you keep everything perfectly organized and build out an instant portfolio at the same time.
Set up your base of operations
You don’t need to set up very much to start organizing all your photos from the film sets you’ve visually cataloged. You only need two tables: one for details about the production and another for each photo you take and keep. Let’s use an example base to save some time.
Click the Copy base button up top to copy this example base to your Airtable account. If you don’t have an account yet, you can sign up here for free.
Once you’ve got your copy of the base open, you’ll see the Productions table, with three short film shoots already stored in it. Each one has a specified start and end date, contact information, a field to upload contracts and documents (if you want to keep those organized, too), and any notes. You’re also sure to notice a bunch of photos—but we’ll get back to those in a moment.
The Productions table works just like a spreadsheet, so feel free to fill it out like one. Try adding a production you’re on, but leave the samples in the base for now. You can delete them when we’re all done and always return to this post to make another copy or just use the embedded examples.
One of the ways in which Airtable is better than a traditional spreadsheet is the ability to look at your information in many different ways, depending on your project’s needs. With just a few clicks, you can turn your spreadsheet-like grid into a photo gallery, a calendar, or even a kanban board—and you can save these ways of looking at your information as preset “views.”
Click on the dropdown menu next to where it says “Grid view” to reveal a couple of extra views all ready to go. Take a quick peek at the Production Gallery view to get an overview of the photos for each production, then check out the view named “Job Calendar.”
As you can see above, this view provides a calendar that shows the start and end dates of your work commitments, which is invaluable for managing your booking.
Add your images
But let’s be honest: this is really about the photography. Move to the Images and Galleries table to see a list of photos sorted by production.
Similarly to the previous table, you only need to enter an image name, associate it with a production you already entered, and upload the picture. You’ll also see a place to add notes and a checkbox to add that photo to your personal favorites. (We’ll discuss more about how that works in a minute.)
Before you add anything of your own, notice that it says “Grouped by 1 field” at the top of the view. If you click that button, you’ll see that the current view for this table is set to group all its records (i.e. rows, or each photo entry) by production. Grouping makes it possible to automatically organize your photos so you can enter them however you like and not worry about misplacing anything.
If you click on the bottommost row of any group (where the plus sign is located), you can create a new record that’s automatically labeled with the appropriate production title. You can easily drag and drop files into the cells in the attachment field directly from your desktop, or click the plus-shaped Add attachment button in an attachment field cell to bring up a file uploader that you can use to bring photos over from your Dropbox, Box, or Google Drive account.
Make instant galleries
Now, let’s have some fun with these images! To make a gallery in Airtable, you only need to create a new gallery view. If you click the view dropdown menu next to where it says “Grid view,” you’ll see a selection of premade galleries all ready to go. If you want to create your own, just click the Gallery button in the Add a view section at the bottom. For now, let’s take a look at the existing galleries to learn how they work.
The embedded view above shows the Fragile Gallery view. Don’t let the custom name fool you—you’re looking at pretty much the same thing you’d get by creating a gallery view from scratch. What’s different? If you click the Customize cards button, you’ll find mostly hidden fields and the Cover Field option set to “Image.” This tells the gallery view which image to display as a thumbnail. We only have one option, but if you wanted to add another attachment field to store the unprocessed version of a photo, you would have a choice of which image to display.
Also, check out the highlighted filter button that currently reads “1 filter.” It filters out any photos not linked to the production “Fragile” in order to produce a shareable gallery with only photos from that short film, just like the one embedded above.
Filters make it exceptionally easy to share your photos with the cast and crew whenever you’re ready—instantly.
What if you want to share photos from multiple productions to create, say, a portfolio? Perhaps you remember that little green checkbox in grid view that we planned to come back to.
The Portfolio Gallery view doesn’t filter by production title, but rather, by the state of the checkbox in the Portfolio field. If you check it next to any image you add to this base, it’ll pop up in this view. You can share it with anyone or embed it on your web site by clicking on the share button in the toolbar.
This example just gets the ball rolling, but you can do a lot more with this base very easily. If you ever want to add an extra field to contain more information, return to the grid view, scroll all the way to the right, and click the plus button. You can add any field you like, but perhaps you’ll want a long text field to store shooting locations. Perhaps you’ll want to add a collaborator field to the Images and Galleries table to tag someone else in an uploaded photo so they’ll get a notification to check it out.
Airtable provides plenty of field types, views, and other tools that can do great things alone or work together to do even more. If you have an idea for how to make this base work better for you, give it a try! If you need help figuring something out, check out the Airtable Help Center for lots of useful tips and tutorials. When you’ve got tons of great photos to share, bring them over to Airtable Universe to share your work with others (or just visit for some organizational inspiration).