Lightroom is a non-destructive photo editor that is powerful enough in its functionality for professional use, yet affordable and approachable enough for photographers of any skill level to use.

It is one of the best choices in editing software regardless of someones photographic skill level or intended use.

Lightroom is part of the Adobe Photoshop family of products, and its official name is “Adobe Photoshop Lightroom” but we call it Lightroom for short. Lightroom combines the image management and organization of Adobe Bridge with Photoshop’s Camera Raw Processor. What we have is a powerful software that can manage, organize, cull, and develop images.


Adobe Lightroom

Lightroom gives us options to create different end products from images within our catalog. If we want to make a book, slideshow, print, or upload the photos to the internet, Lightroom has these features built-in to make your workflow efficient. Each of these workflow components are separated into Modules as you can see in the image below:

Lightroom Panels
Each module is essentially a portion of your workflow that has been broken out into a logical organization so that the software interface isn’t overly cluttered.


What makes Lightroom such a powerful image editor is the ability to batch process our images. Batch processing means that we’re able to edit an image, and then apply all of the adjustments to a sequence of images by simply copying and pasting. Batch processing is an integral part of an efficient Lightroom workflow. While we will get into the actual “how-to” portion later in this series, the image below shows an example of the Synchronize Settings dialogue which allows you to select which develop settings you wish to apply to selected images.

Batch Processing


Lightroom is a non-destructive editor meaning that what you see inside of Lightroom is simply a preview of what an image would look like, were the settings actually applied. Since the develop setting modifications are not actually applied to the image, at any point in time you can go back to the original image.

Lightroom does this through its Catalog System. Inside of the Lightroom Catalog File all the changes to your photos are saved. As you make adjustments to your settings, the “preview” is updated in real time so that it looks like you are actually modifying the image. However, those editing modifications are only applied when you choose to “Export” an image. By exporting your images, you are telling Lightroom to apply all of the changes made to a photo and export them as a new image.

However, at no point in this process is the original altered; and even when exported, the original image still remains unchanged and within the catalog. This means that at any point in time, you can always simply hit “Reset” on the interface to reset all of the develop settings back to the original image.

This is why we refer to Lightroom as a “non-destructive editor.”


A Destructive Editor is a photo editor that saves changes to the image over the original image data. The original file essentially becomes inaccessible after saving because the edited file is saved over the original file.

Photoshop is an example of a destructive editor. When you edit a photo in Photoshop and save the file over the original image you cannot go back to the original file because it has been replaced by the edited one.

Of course, this can be avoided by editing on layers, and saving the image as a PSD. But once the image is saved as a JPEG the changes are permanent and cannot be reverted.


  • 1.1 Intro and Welcome
  • 1.2 What is Adobe Lightroom?
  • 1.3 Lightroom Strengths and Limitations
  • 1.4 3 Keys to Understanding the Lightroom Catalog System
  • 1.5 Our Two Recommended Catalog Workflows
  • 1.6 7 Steps and Best Practices in the Production Workflow
  • Getting Started

  • 2.1 Introduction
  • 2.2 Creating Our First Catalog
  • 2.3 3 Simple Steps to Understanding Importing
  • 2.4 3 Ways to Skin Every Lightroom Cat
  • 2.5 8 Interface Components and Shortcuts
  • 2.6 Module and Shortcut Overview
  • 2.7 Taking Lightroom Images to Photoshop
  • 2.8 The Basics of Exporting
  • Customizing Lightroom

  • 3.1 Introduction
  • 3.2 6 Ways to Customize Your Interface and Views
  • 3.3 My 3 Favorite Loupe View Metadata
  • 3.4 Customizing Grid View Attributes
  • 3.5 Customizing the Identity Plate
  • 3.6 Customizing Panel End Marks
  • 3.7 How to Create a Watermark
  • 3.8 Additional Interface Customization
  • 3.9 Using Neutral Desktop Background
  • Key Library Features

  • 4.1 Folders and 10 Tools to Manage Them
  • 4.2 5 Reasons Collections Rock
  • 4.3 Why You Should Use Publish Services
  • 4.4 The Histogram and Quick Develop Panel
  • 4.5 Everything You Need to Know About Keywording
  • 4.6 The Basics of Metadata
  • 4.7 3 Ways to Rate and Cull Images
  • 4.8 3 Reasons the Filmstrip is Awesome
  • 4.9 3 Methods to Filter, Unlimited Possibilities
  • 4.10 My 5 Favorite Library Toolbar Functions
  • 4.11 Stacking and Why I am Not a Fan
  • 4.12 How and When to Rename Images
  • 4.13 10 Must Know Library View Shortcuts
  • 4.14 14 Must Know Library Function Shortcuts
  • A Professional Workflow

  • 5.1 Introduction
  • 5.2 5 Tips on Your Shooting Workflow
  • 5.3 3 Pieces of Hardware to Optimize Lightroom Speed
  • 5.4 Wide Gamut IPS Displays and Color Correction
  • 5.5 9 Key Settings to Optimize General Preferences for Workflow
  • 5.6 3 Key Settings to Optimize Catalog Settings for Workflow
  • 5.7 Creating a Soft Import Develop Preset
  • 5.8 Creating a Vivid Import Develop Preset
  • 5.9 Creating a Standard Metadata Preset
  • 5.10 Creating a General Import Preset and Importing
  • 5.11 How to Sync Camera Capture Times
  • 5.12 How to Keyword a Wedding Catalog
  • 5.13 Rendering Previews Prior to Working
  • 5.14 The 3 Pass Workflow Overview
  • 5.15 Our 3 Step Logic to Culling
  • 5.16 Simple Culling Out Example
  • 5.17 Simple Culling In Example
  • 5.18 Syncing Functions
  • 5.19 Process by Scene
  • 5.20 Rename Prior to Export
  • 5.21 Creating Our 4 Most Used Export Presets
  • 5.22 Archival
  • 5.23 Refer to the Workflow Checklist
  • Tips & Advanced Functions

  • 6.1 Introduction
  • 6.2 How to Use the Auto Import Function
  • 6.3 How to Import via Tethered Capture
  • 6.4 Export, Import and Synchronize Catalogs
  • 6.5 Export with Previous
  • 6.6 Export to Email
  • 6.7 10 Useful Shortcuts You May Not Yet Know
  • 6.8 Use View Modes to Navigate Modules
  • 6.9 Using XMP Sidecar Files
  • 6.10 RAW vs. DNG
  • 6.11 Advanced NAS and Smart Preview Catalog Setup
  • 6.12 Conclusion