If you were to attend a large photographic trade show or conference, in all likelihood you would be under sensory overload. Everything is large, bright, and being shown off by beautiful women apparently allergic to loose fitting clothing. It’s a classic case of escalation – one company creates a lit sign 20 feet across, so another does so with a video, or tries to grab your attention with sound. It’s a modern day Moroccan market, everyone vying for your attention by assaulting the senses, and with the square footage occupied rivaling stadiums, the sheer volume or products and services to see simply beggars belief.

This volume presents a unique problem, that there’s so much to see, you’re going to miss something, and something you miss could be the best. Being part of the media and with an audience as large and wonderful as ours means it’s our luck and responsibility to seek out and find that which you may have missed but shouldn’t do without, and in that very vein I’d like to share with you what I found to be the most unique and coolest piece of tech at WPPi 2015. It’s called CTRL+Console Lightroom Sorter utility.


Encapsulated in a sentence for brevity, it is the first controller for Lightroom that turns your iPad into a multi-functioning, gesture-controlable, ergonomic display and control surface.

As it stands today, most programs have been designed around the limited functionality of the keyboard, with the use of shortcuts to improve the experience and speed, but a program like Photoshop, for instance, has over 1,000 shortcuts. A touchscreen allows for a different manner of computer interaction, and the CTRL+Console’s Lightroom Utility allows for control of many of Lightroom’s functions directly from the iPad, effectively turning complicated shortcuts that need to be memorized into intuitive, small, and quickly executed finger movements.


Through a series of buttons and gestures you’re currently able to:

  • Sort images
  • Star-rate images
  • Apply color labels
  • Flag as a pick or flag as rejected
  • Rotate
  • Undo & Redo actions
  • Alternate views: Grid, Dimmed, Full Screen
  • Move from Library to Develop Module

If you are a heavy Lightroom user, the moment you see this app in action it will likely be an a-ha moment. You’ll see how this could evolve your processes, and likely free creative expression. Even if you’re a beginner, this will hold appeal because it is so intuitive, you’ll be able to just begin, and get into the meat of your work, allowing you to make your learning curve and productivity curve a steep one.


CTRL+Console is the brainchild of photographer, videographer, and inventor Jeff Chow and already has a host of similar apps available for various creative programs such as Premier and Final Cut Pro, so there is already experience building the type.


I had a chance to see and touch the app myself and it’s apparent that this experience serves well because it just worked. There was no lag in the WiFi connection between iPad and laptop, and it looked inviting and stable. It’s also attractive and smart to use – imagine the face of Margot Robbie and the brain of Elon Musk, and in the sea of typical photography gear in the show rooms, it sat there like Bluetooth earbuds in a sea of gramophones.


And this, it would appear, is only the first step in the evolutionary process, as the plans for the app is to expand controllers to include control not singularly for the Library module, but for the Develop Module, which will bring a whole new way to approach Lightroom entirely. Sadly it’s not available as yet, but is soon to be.

Some of you may be thinking the keyboard was created by brilliant men and serves us so well to this day that we don’t need anything else, but it’s not in human nature to starve a fire, so sticking to something great because the people who built it were geniuses 40 years ago is like employing a team of smart Italians to build something because the Romans were so good at it and couldn’t be bested. I could be wrong, but it would appear, that this app, is progress.

[REWIND: Unleash Your Workflow By Learning to Use Lightroom & Photoshop Synergistically]

If you like the look and sound of this, I’d love to hear what you think of it, what you would want from it, maybe what you think it’s worth, or any general thoughts. I have no dog in the fight, but I will be bringing you up-to-date on its release and first impressions in real world use. You can get an idea of how these apps from CTRL+Console function from the video below: