Lightroom Organization & Workflow: 7 Steps and Best Practices in the Production Workflow
In this tutorial, we’re going through our pre and post-production workflow and giving you the best tips on how to make your own workflow as efficient as possible. When mastered, these tips are guaranteed to save you time in your workflow so you can spend more time doing things that matter, like taking more pictures!
TIP 1: IMPORT THROUGH LIGHTROOM
There are two options to import your images from your card to your computer. The first option is to copy your memory card onto your desktop and then manually import into Lightroom. The second option is to import directly into Lightroom, and we recommend sticking to this option. We recommend this option because the desktop operating system is not designed for image management. This can be a problem when you have images with identical file names because the desktop will treat them as the same image and you will only be able to keep one.
In our studio many of our photographers shoot with the same camera make and model that don’t have custom file naming options. We frequently run into this problem where we have unique images coming from different cameras with the same file name. When we import directly into Lightroom, it automatically takes care of the identical image file names, insuring that all images that should be uploaded are uploaded.
TIP 2: CULL IN LIBRARY MODULE
When you begin your culling process, we advise that you do all this in the Library module. You can choose to cull in the grid view or the loop view in the Library module, just as long as you’re not culling in the Develop module. The reason why is because the Develop module uses a different type of image preview than the Library module, and these previews take more time to load, and that will slow down your workflow significantly.
TIP 3: KEEP YOUR CULLING SYSTEM SIMPLE
Lightroom gives us many culling options such as rating, flagging, and coloring our photos, and you may feel the need to cull accordingly. Our tip is to keep your initial culling process simple. When you’re looking through your photos, simply ask yourself if you want to keep or discard the photos. That way you’re only focused on one thing, and your culling process will become much faster.
TIP 4: MASTER EVERY METHOD OF BATCH PROCESSING
We went through on how Lightroom’s strength vs Photoshop is it’s ability to batch process. From using the using the previous button, synchronizing, auto-sync, and other batch processing functions, nothing will speed up your workflow faster than mastering these batch processing techniques.
Batch processing is your best friend when processing large amounts of images in an efficient manner, and this is also why we recommend shooting in manual mode on your camera. Batch processing works best when images are similar in terms of exposure and color, and if your camera settings are consistent from scene to scene then the batch processing workflow becomes much quicker and smoother.
TIP 5: AVOID ADVANCED PRODUCTION & PHOTOSHOP UNTIL BATCH PROCESSING IS FINISHED
We want to avoid re-work and loss in efficiency, so we save the heavier post processing until we are finished batch processing our images. If you’re constantly stopping to do advanced post production on your images then you’re not taking full advantage of your batch processing workflow. Also you may decide later that you find a better image to do advance post processing to and not want to use the image you’ve already edited, and all that time spent editing the initial image is now wasted.
TIP 6: EXPORT IMAGES TO ANY FORMAT THAT YOU PLAN TO USE IN THE FUTURE
During the export process we recommending exporting the images to any format you might need in the future. So if you need full sized JPEG’s and web sized photos, export for both.
The reason is because if you need a particular image sometime in the future, you’ll always have it available to you in the size you need, and it’s available quickly. If you have to re-import your catalog, find the image you need and export, that can be very time consuming, especially if you have to do it over and over again. Although this process will take up a bit more space on your hard drive, the time you save will be worth it.
TIP 7: YOU DON’T HAVE TO SAVE EVERY SINGLE RAW FILE UNLESS YOU NEED THEM
As photographers we tend to save every single photo we take. This is where we encourage you not to be a photography hoarder. If you have rejected images that are duplicates or are simply not as good, don’t feel shy when it comes to deleting from your hard drive.
Although when it comes to professional shoots, or when we’re shooting for clients, we reset our rejected images and export them as JPEG files just so we have them available to us if we need them in the future. Sometimes a client might ask “Do you have any more shots of…” and even though the photos may not be the best, the client will appreciate them. So as JPEGs we still have the images if needed, while not taking up the enormous amount of space that RAW files do.