Lightroom Workflow

Organization

If you get your lightroom workflow correct then you can very quickly organize and process your photos, leaving you with a lot more time out in the field.

I am often asked questions about my lightroom workflow and I tend to split it up into Organization Workflow and Processing Workflow. This page describes the Organization Workflow.

Import Photos

If used properly Lightroom can carry out a lot of tasks for you automatically. This begins with importing your photographs from your memory card.

The screenshot below shows the settings that I use when importing photos. If you understand the settings and do something similar then you’ll find that your photographs are quite will organized right from the start.

Folder Naming Convention

I keep all of my photos on a dedicated external drive. They are organized by year so I set “Copy to” as the year the photos were taken and “put in subfolder” to yyyy-mm-dd_shootname.

Every photo shoot is given a name. For example whenever I go to Gigrin to photograph red kites in flight, the shoot name will always be “gigrin”.

By adopting this folder naming convention you can have a good idea of whats in a folder by scanning down the folder list for any particular year.

File Naming
File Naming is set to a custom template of yyyymmdd_shootname_sequence.ext. By having the shoot name in the filename you can always have a good idea of what the photo is without opening it. This is of particular value when exporting your photos.

Backup
“Backup to” is always set to a seperate backup drive. Its important to realise that this is a backup of the original files stored on your card. It will not contain any adjustments made by applying Develop Presets on import.

Develop Presets
Develop Presets is set to any presets that you want to have automatically applied to your photos as they import.

Metadata Presets
Metadata preset is set to a preset that I’ve created which automatically applies Copyright and author information on import.

Initial Previews
Finally “Initial Previews” is set to 1:1 so that I can do more with my photos when I’m on the road without them being there physically.

Click here for a full list of Lightroom Keyboard Shortcuts

Once my photographs have been imported I do all of my organization from the library module in either Grid View (shortcut G) or Loupe view (shortcut E) with the library filter open (shortcut ) and set to attribute:

Quick Reject

For my next step I go into Loupe View (shortcut E) and sequentially move through the photos and use Flags to weed out the ones that are sub-standard and I’ll definitely reject.

I mark these with a Reject Flag (shortcut X). If I don’t want to reject them then I press the right arrow key. I do this with Caps Lock on as lightroom then automatically moves to the next photo once a flag has been set.

Review Rejects

Once I’ve done this I review the rejects by going to grid view (shortcut G) and setting the library filter to only show photos with a Reject Flag:

If I’m still happy with my rejects I delete them (Menu Photo, Delete Rejected Photos or Shortcut Control Backspace).

I then clear the library filter so that all photos are now shown.

Rate Your Photos

I then go back to Loupe view (shortcut E) and rate the photos using stars.

1 star (shortcut 1): Low potential: Not sure about, might not keep.

2 star (shortcut 2): Medium Potential: Fairly good but needs working on.

3 star (shortcut 3): High Potential: Really like and definitely want to work on.

Assign Keywords

Keywording your photographs so that you know where to find them is a vital part of the lightroom workflow. Its so important that I’ve devoted a whole section to it – Click Here.

If you follow the advice in this stage of the lightroom workflow you’ll never again say “Where are my photos?”.

Process Your Images

The final stage of my lightroom workflow is to edit the best images in the develop module.

I filter my images by clicking on the third star in Library Filters (see below). This shows me all of the photos that I think are the best. I then do any editing in the develop module.

I then filter my 2 star images and work on these.

Finally I filter my 1 star photos and decide what to do with them.

Shortcut Summary

Action Shortcut
Grid View G
Loupe View E
Library Filter \
Reject Photo X
Delete Rejects Control Backspace
Rate with one star 1
Rate with two stars 2
Rate wit three stars 3

Click here for a full list of Lightroom Keyboard Shortcuts

Further Reading


Lightroom keywords are a powerful feature for your photography workflow

How to use the cloning tool to remove unwanted distractions

How to use presets speed up your workflow