Edit in Lightroom 1
Create a Pro Editing Workflow on Adobe Lightroom
Being a master of your Lightroom Workflow means you will be able to edit faster, find your images faster, and have complete control over your file management.
Adobe Lightroom isn’t just about editing your photos. Fundamentally, Lightroom is an asset management tool, and your images are the assets. Being in control of those assets is of absolute importance to have a solid workflow.
Being aware of how your library is constructed and organized will save you time. Furthermore, things like Metadata, keywords, and location tagging are all important elements to helping you keep on top of your Lightroom game!
The importance of importing. This is, of course, the first step of Lightroom editing, and the most important. Paying attention to your importing workflow will help to keep you organized.
Knowing how and where your images will be stored on your computer is paramount.
Most photographers who deal with a large number of images daily tend to import their images to a specific folder which they will name with the date (and maybe some other information) of when the images were shot.
My personal preference is to use the date and the location in the folder name. For example, if I shot some photos of a model for a clothing brand yesterday in New York, I would name my folder 2020_03_26_Model_ClothingBrand_NYC. Naming my folder this way gives me the possibility to search for this folder either by date, name, customer, and/or location.
I then rename the images in the folder using the same method.
Of course, many photographers may have a different method that suits their needs better when it comes to folder naming. There’s basically no wrong or right way.
The Lightroom Catalogue
Lightroom creates a catalogue folder the first time you open it up. This catalogue is a snapshot file created by Lightroom which tells it where all your folders are stored and brings them up in an explorer-style file system in the left panel of the Library module.
Moving folders, changing their contents or names will be saved within the Lightroom catalogue file. If you are new to lightroom, then you should have a look at this tutorial of Lightroom and Photoshop.
You can also make additional catalogues based on your needs, for example, by the type of photography.
Metadata is super important! It is the text data stored within your image. Metadata can include a description, keywords, location information, camera settings, copyright information, and much more.
Making sure your Metadata is always as complete as possible makes your images more searchable – whether you’re searching for the file on your computer, or in helping to make that image appear in search results if it’s on your website.
Sorting your Images
Once you’ve imported a bunch of images into Lightroom, the first thing you’re likely to do is to sort through the images and pick out the winners from the lemons. There are several ways you can mark images to make sure you know they’re on the list to be edited.
Stars – Stars are a great way of sorting your images. Giving photos a star rating means that if you’ve said for example, given all your favourite images a 5-star rating, you can use the Library modules filtering to zero in on just those images.
Colours – You can also select your images to show different colours in the Library module. This helps to give you a quick visual overview of the images you want to carry forward into the Develop module, and those that you may delete later on.
Flagging – Another method making selections in the Library module is flagging. Simply hit P on your keyboard to select an image as a Pick, or X to drop it.
You can of course use combinations of these methods, but it does help to stick to one, keeping things as un-confusing as possible.
As mentioned above, adding keywords can be important to make your images as searchable as possible – not just within Lightroom, but everywhere. The keyword box is located in the right panel under the Metadata tab from the Library module.
If you’re a landscape photographer, for example, you may want to include keywords describing certain aspects of each photograph: Sunny, Fall, Mountain, River, Colorado, Road Trip, etc.
The Develop module is where the magic happens, and also here are a few tricks that can be utilized to improve your productivity.
Presets – Presets are small files that contain pre-defined adjustments. There are several already installed within Lightroom, and users are also able to purchase and download additional Presets online.
These pre-created settings can be applied to one, or all of your images at the click of a mouse.
Copy and Paste – Being able to copy and paste your settings between photos is another great productivity booster. Once you’re happy with your edits on the first image in your sequence, you can copy these edits and simply paste them to all the other photos you have with you in the Develop Module.
Plugins – Plugins are additional add-ons to Adobe Lightroom that can be purchased and downloaded from third-party developers. Most Plugins perform single, specific tasks. For example, showing your highlight and shadow clipping together as an overlay, or showing you where the focus point in your camera was when you shot the image.
Finally, we come to exporting. Keeping things clean and orderly here is as equally important as what you choose to do with your files when you import them.
The most key aspects of exporting your images are:
Export Location – Choose the location the exported images are to be saved too. Make sure you give the folder a name that will make sure you don’t have to search later. I recommend going with a similar naming scheme to when you imported the images earlier.
File Naming – Naming your files will also help them to be searched for later. Again, it’s good to keep the names of your images in some way connected to the folder name.
File Settings – What you are expecting to do with the images once exported may determine your choice here. JPEG is the usual tile type, but if you are intending on further editing an image in Photoshop, then it’s important to make sure you select either TIFF or PSD.
Metadata – Keeping Metadata intact is important. However, if you are sending the image straight to the web, then you may want to deselect certain elements of the metadata, for example, Camera Settings.