On December 1, 1913, the Ford Model T began rolling down the assembly line and completely changed how automobiles were built. In turn, it also had an immense influence on the world, how we created things and the expansion of industry during the 20th century. Productivity shot through the roof, and because of that Henry Ford was able to increase worker pay from just $1.50 a day to $5.00 a day for experienced workers. What does all this have to do with workflow tips in Lightroom and relate to us as wedding photographers?
If you’re ready to use a more productive workflow in Lightroom, you need to think like the assembly line. Here are some ways to do it.
1. After importing your files into Lightroom, the first thing you should do is cull through your photos. Culling is the act of looking through the images quickly and choosing the ones you want to edit. While culling don’t start editing any photos. Even if you saw one that you like but was exposed improperly, therefore, you are unsure if you want to keep it, just keep it for now and try to fix it later during the next process. If you find out later it’s unrepairable, then you toss it out. But, don’t, I repeat, don’t stop to bring a photo into the develop module and start editing it. While culling you can use numbers to rate images, color labels, or “P” to flag the images you like, then filter for those later. There are lots of ways to do it. The key is only to cull the images as our first workflow step.
2. Once you’ve culled the photos, you need to filter for those images you picked, and you can now start the editing process. Switch over to the Develop module and begin editing the images. Most of your edits will happen in the Basic menu of the module, (white balance, exposure, contrast, vibrance, clarity, etc.). During this process, you can also apply any Lightroom presets. Be sure to take advantage of Sync and Previous buttons. Where many photographers get held up here is when they come across an image that needs some extra editing they right-click on the image and choose to open it in Photoshop. Don’t do this. It will slow you down. We will do that part later.
3. Once you’ve finished editing all your images, use the Metadata filter in the Library module to sort your images by ISO. Choose the high ISO images. Fix the noise in one photo and then sync just the noise reduction of that one image to all your other photos shot at the same ISO. Do this for each level of high ISO images you would like to fix.
4. You’ve finished editing all the images; your next step is to select them all and rename them before moving onto the export process. The easiest way to do this is going to the Library module, select all, then on the PC just hit F2, or on the Mac hit Cmd+F2 to bring up the Rename dialog box.
5. Your photos are now culled, edited, and renamed in Lightroom, so now it’s time to export them. Go to your export dialog box and export all the images into one subfolder inside the client’s main folder.
6. Once you have all the JPEGs exported into one folder, open up Photoshop. Now is the time you can drag the JPEGs that need additional editing into Photoshop, make the edits and resave the photo. Edits in Photoshop might be advanced cloning, healing, and skin retouching. I also like to do some color toning in Photoshop using an action I haven’t been able to replicate yet in Lightroom. The key here is that you are using Photoshop on JPEG files that have already been exported out of Lightroom. No going back and forth between the programs like before. Remember, think like an assembly line. Only focus on one particular job at a time.
Quick Tip: Make sure your caps lock key is activated so that while culling, your photos auto-advance from one image to the next after you pick, rate or label your images.
Your “assembly line” might look different. The key though is to keep yourself from bouncing between one thing and another. If you are culling and decide to open one image in Develop, then go back to culling, you are doing it slower than you could be. If you are opening images from Lightroom into Photoshop, then saving the edits before jumping back into Lightroom, you are also doing it slower than you could be.
Just as the assembly line was able to make Ford workers much more productive, you will become a much more productive editor in your workflow. Develop your steps, write it down and paste it above your computer or on your desk. Don’t break the flow. Form workflow habits. In a short time, you will find your workflow process will be much faster than before.
If you are ready to take your Lightroom skills to the next level be sure to check out the Lightroom Image Processing Mastery tutorials here on SLR Lounge. They are extremely helpful, comprehensive and taught very well. Did I mention it’s over 10 hours of instruction? I learned lots just by having them play in the background as I was doing my editing and every so often I would replay a section of the instruction because it was so beneficial. Time is money and these videos have saved me a lot of time.