In this video from our Lightroom 4 A to Z Workshop on DVD, we will go over one of our culling systems for Lin & Jirsa Photography. There is no one “right” culling system and you can set up your own system that fits your personal workflow. However, with these tips and workflow system steps, hopefully we can help you save time in your production workflow.

To learn more, be sure to check out the Lightroom 4 A to Z Workshop which is also a part of the Lightroom 4 Workshop Collection.

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Tip: Keep It Simple!

Some people have a rather complex rating system to keep their images organized. For example, they might use a 5-star rating system like the one below.

  • 1 star = Reject image
  • 2 stars = A little potential but unsure (undelivered)
  • 3 stars = Average photo (delivered)
  • 4 stars = Blog photo
  • 5 stars = Portfolio photo

However, having this complex of a rating system can quickly become too cumbersome and time consuming. When you are looking through your images, you will need to carefully analyze each individual image to determine its rating since each image can fall into any one of those 5 ratings. That is why we keep our culling and editing process very simple. The 8 easy steps in this tutorial will go over how we personally set up our culling process for our studio. As I have mentioned before, there is no one “right” way. The “Editing Out” culling system is one of two that works best for our workflow (our primary system is the “Culling In” system which we discuss in more detail in the Workflow System DVD), so feel free to tweak yours to fit your needs.

Resetting Our Catalog

If you are starting with a fresh new catalog, you can skip down to Step 5: Flagging Our Images in the second section, “The Editing Out Culling System.” If you have any attributes set on your images, such as any color labels or stars, then we will need to reset them because we want our images to be how they were when we first imported them. That means we are going to delete all of our non-original files, as well as reset our attributes.

Step 1: Reset Catalog Culling Attributes
First, make sure you are in the Grid View. Then hit “Ctrl + A” to select all of your images. To remove all star ratings on your images, hit “0.” Next, hit “6” twice. This will remove any color labels you had on your images. Finally, we want to remove any flags on our images, so hit “U” to unflag them.

Step 2: Remove Keyword Tags
We also want to make sure there are no keyword tags under the Keywording Panel. The Keywording Panel is found on the right side in the Library Module. As you can see below, there are no keyword tags in the box.


Step 3: Delete Virtual Copies
Now that we have removed everything from our images, we need to delete any virtual copies that we may have. Make sure your Filter Menu is open. Your Filter Menu can be found above your images in the Grid View. If your Filter Menu is not there, simply hit “\” to bring it up.

Next, you need to select “Attribute” to access your virtual copies. On the right side of the Grid View, you will see 3 little boxed icons. Click on the middle icon, which will bring up your virtual copies. As you can see below, the mouse is hovered over the “Virtual Copies” icon.

To delete our virtual copies, select the image and right click on it. A menu will appear where you can click on “Delete Photo.” A dialogue box will show up to confirm that you want to delete the photo. Hit “Remove.”



Step 4: Auto-Sync and Reset Image Settings
Once your virtual copies have all been deleted, click on “Attribute” again to turn off your filter, as shown below. Remove the Filter Menu by hitting “\” again.

Next, we want to make sure all of our image settings are actually reset. Select all of your images by hitting “Ctrl + A” and go to the Develop Module. Once you are in the Develop Module, enable “Auto Sync” by clicking on the icon. Auto Sync is located on the right side of Lightroom at the bottom of the panels. Now that Auto Sync is enabled, all changes made to the settings of one image will be made to the settings of all images in our catalog at the same time. Once Auto Sync is on, click on the “Reset” button next to the “Auto Sync” button. Now, all of our images are reset back to their standard imported settings.


The “Editing Out” Culling System

If you have watched our Lightroom 4 Workflow System DVD, you will know that we currently use the “Editing In” System when culling our images. However, we used to use the “Editing Out” System, which is what this tutorial will cover. Both systems are very effective, but we have found that the “Editing In” System works better for us. As mentioned before, pick a culling system that works best for you. In the “Editing Out” System, we select all of our images in our catalog as a pick, which means that we will deliver everything. Then, we go through each individual image and edit out which images we do not want to deliver. This is a simple process because we have only 2 options: we are either leaving a flag on the image or we are rejecting the image by hitting “X.”

Step 5: Flagging Our Images
Now that we have reset the settings in all of our images, we need to flag our images. First, we need to return to the Grid View by hitting “G.” Next, select all your images by hitting “Ctrl + A.” Once all of your images have been selected, hit “P” to mark every image as flagged, as shown below. When all of your images have been flagged, unselect your images by hitting “Ctrl + D.”

Step 6: Creating a Portfolio Collection
For our blog quality or portfolio quality images, we need to first create a collection. To create a collection, go to the Collections Panel on the left side of Lightroom. Click on the “+” sign to the right of “Collections” and hit “Create Collection.”


After you have clicked on “Create Collection,” name the collection “Portfolio.” Make sure you have “Top Level” selected under “Placement.” Under “Collection Options,” make sure you have not selected “Include selected photos.” Then, hit “Create.”


Once our Portfolio Collection has been created, we need to set it as our Target Collection. Right-click on Portfolio and hit “Set as Target Collection,” as I have done below. Once you have done that, a little “+” sign will show up next to “Portfolio.” Now that we have set this as our Target Collection, we can click on an image and hit “B.” By hitting “B,”’ it will automatically move our image to our Portfolio Collection.

Step 7: Filtering Our Images
Now that we have created our Portfolio Collection, we need to filter our images. Double click on your first image to bring it up in Loupe View. If the image’s information shows up, you can get rid of it by hitting “I” until it toggles off. Next, we are going to go down to our filters, which is underneath our image on the right side. We want to filter by flag status so click on the first flag, as shown below. That way, we will only see images that are flagged.
Make sure that no other filters, such as the Virtual Copies filter, is on. If it is, simply bring the Filter Menu back by hitting “\.” Then click on the Virtual Copies filter again to take the filter off. Once your filters are off, your flagged images should show up. Close the Filter Menu by hitting “\” again.

Step 8: Culling Our Images
We want to have as much space as possible while viewing and culling our images. We can hit “F” twice to go into Full Screen Mode. Next, we can hit “Tab” to get rid of the panels on the left and ride sides. Double-click on your image to view it full screen. We are now ready to start culling our images. For the images we want to reject, we are simply going to hit “X.” Since our Flag Filter is on, any image we reject will automatically disappear from our lineup. We can continue moving through our images by simply hitting the Right Arrow on our keyboard. If we see an image that we want to move to our Portfolio Collection, all we need to do is hit “B.” The image will still stay in our lineup, but it will also be in our Portfolio Collection.


By using this “Editing Out” System, we only have 2 options to consider: we do not deliver the photo because it is rejected or we deliver the photo because it is flagged. We also have the option to flag the photo and put it into our Portfolio Collection as well. Since we only have these options, we can quickly go through all of our images and cull them without much thought. If you look at all of your images with no filters on it, you can see that the images you rejected are grayed out. If you want to look at the photos you rejected, you can go down to the filters and turn on the Rejected Filter. Once again, this culling system is not necessarily the best one for everyone. Figure out what works for you, but remember, a simpler culling system will save you a lot more time.

Learn More!

We hope you enjoyed this article and video excerpt from the Lightroom 4 A to Z Workshop on DVD. Stay tuned for our next article and episode!

The Lightroom 4 A to Z Workshop on DVD is a 14 hour video workshop turning any Lightroom novice into a complete master of Lightroom 4 in no time! The Lightroom 4 A to Z Workshop can be purchased by itself, or within the Lightroom 4 Workshop Collection which also contains our award winning and industry standard Lightroom 4 Preset System, as well as the Lightroom 4 Workflow System.