10 Steps For Organizing a Workflow in Lightroom

Hello, hello!! It is busy season for weddings. As a private photo editor and photographer, that means the editing portion of my business is in full swing for me! I shot a beautiful wedding and bluebonnet session myself last week (next up for posting), edited those, and THEN edited 5 weddings and 5 sessions for photography clients this week too! I did that in 3.5 work days. Say what?? Phew! As a private editor, I have developed a workflow in Lightroom and I think with my experience, I have some tips to share with you that could be most helpful if you are looking for a better workflow as a photographer. So let’s dive in!

1. Create collections to keep your sessions and weddings organized.

Select/highlight the photos you want to put in a collection.

Click on the plus sign next to category line Collections in your library.


Name your collection and include selected photos. You could even create sub folders in collections.


Now your photos are in a smart collection! Do this for every wedding and session. It will make life EASIER. You’re welcome! Now cue the song from Moana, “You’re welcome.” Haha.


2. Flag your anchor photos.
I like to tell my photography clients to either flag or color code their anchor images.
 Anchor images are used by photographers to sort through their photos and to even choose sneak peeks or blog photos.. If you want to make sure you have thorough, sample edited photos for your editor (or yourself to be able to go through and edit quickly), edit any photos with different light (think direct light, hazy light, shade, indoors, ceremony, reception, dance floor, details, etc). These photos need to be edited in Lightroom exactly how you want them to look and sent with all your photos to ensure your private photo editor knows exactly how you want your photos to be edited.
The flag you see can be selected by right clicking on your mouse and flagging. You can also click the photo in the left hand hand corner of each photo in library mode or even down in the pictures bar of the develop mode.
Flag with your keyboard instead of your mouse. Simply press  “P” on each selected photo. You could use your right arrow key to quickly go through your photos and press “P” when you know which ones you want to flag. This is for both Windows and Mac users.
Keyboard shortcuts for Windows and Mac: https://helpx.adobe.com/lightroom/help/keyboard-shortcuts.html
3. Color Label your pictures.
Another option for your anchors or choosing which photos you want to post online.
Right click and set color label.
Keyboard shortcuts: Red is 6, Yellow is 7, Green is 8, Blue is 9.
Also, not pictured, but you could rate your photos to use for your anchors or sorting.
Rate 1- press 1, Rate 2- press 2, Rate 3- press 3, Rate 4- press 4, Rate 5- press the number 5.
Pretty easy!


4. Presets! You could either purchase presets or create your own personalized preset which could save you so much time. The key is to try to shoot consistently and keeping even lighting for your photos when shooting. So for instance, if I’m always adjusting my exposure, contrast, tone curve, split toning, green hues, luminance, or sharpening to the same thing for each photo, wouldn’t it be easier and better to apply this to all your photos and then go back through and adjust the photos from there? How to create a preset:
In library mode, click on the plus sign to the right of the preset line and select all the settings you want to save. Name your preset. For me, I would name it Jennifer. Maybe you have an indoor preset. I would name it Jennifer Indoors or Jennifer Indoor Flash. Or Outdoors: Jennifer Outdoors Sunny. Jennifer Outdoors Shade. Or Studio settings: Jennifer Studio. You could make several different presets to suit your needs. I always save my presets under User Presets. It’s right at the bottom left of presets and easier to access when applying to photos.
I would recommend UNCHECKING these things for your own customized preset:
  •  Treatment (Color)- because you more than likely will be shooting in different light and don’t want your photos to turn blue or orange with the temp or tint.
  • Graduated filters/Radial filters- These are more of an adjustment brush for specific photos that need parts of the photos adjusted.

** If you buy presets, you will have to send them in the collection you bought to your editor or the camera calibration will be wonky and your editor will not see what you see, because it does not recognize the preset in their catalog.**

5. Add/Sort photos through a Quick Collection.
Quick collections can be found in library mode to the left under the catalog bar.
Let’s say you need to adjust specific photos and want to just make a quick collection, or you only work with one session or wedding at a time in your Lightroom and want to compare photos or sort them somehow temporarily. In the upper right hand corner or each photo is a circle you could click on. This will send it directly to your quick collection. Keyboard shortcut for Windows and Mac: press B to add to Quick collection. Fairly simple!


6. Synchronize Similar Photos.
If you have a group of similar photos, you could select the photos you want to sync and right above the picture bar at the bottom right is a sync button or reset button. Select the sync button and the actions you want to sync. Viola!


7. Copy and Paste. Similar to syncing! Located at the bottom left hand corner, above the  pictures bar, opposite side of sync.


8. Create a Smart Preview Catalog of every session/wedding.
Smart preview catalogs are super easy and essential for photographers, and super nice for photographers to send to editors.
RAW images are HUGE and take up so much space. They take forever to load online.. Imagine sending a 1000 image catalog to your editor and how long that would take! A smart preview catalog is created from RAWS and is a snapshot of that image. It only takes up 3% of the space RAWS use. It allows you full editing capabilities in Lightroom, and the edited version is transferred back to the photographer with the edited version. I’ll have to create another blog post for this specifically soon!
As an editor, I only receive and send catalogs back and forth to/from my photography clients. This can save HOURS of time waiting for RAWS to take 18+ hours to send online to your editor.
As a photographer, I love this option of creating a smart preview catalog. Have you ever wanted/needed to go back to a wedding/session and edit specific photos differently? Well, when you create a smart preview catalog, first make a folder on your external hard drive of your raws. Import your raws like you normally do into your lightroom catalog, and then when you save the smart preview catalog, you can go back to the raw folder and apply or change the photo. It will still have the history of your edits there too! It is super convenient and easy to keep your photos this way. Then, you can also clear smart preview catalogs you don’t need out of your Lightroom ( remove only- do not delete from disk when it asks you) and reload it at any time!
Step One: Select the photos you want to make a smart preview catalog with.
Step Two: Go to File, Create a Catalog- choose where you want to save it. I recommend an external or extra hard drive for all of your files to not fill up your C drive. Keeping them separate helps!
Name your file: I named mine, John and Mary. (do not include any symbols if transferring between a Mac and Windows user)
Check these boxes:
Build/Include Smart Previews
Include Available Previews
*If you have more than one wedding/session and you select only part of those photos, you will have another box you will need to check:
Check as well: Export Selected Photos Only
Then hit save ( Mine saves open because I created the catalog already for this tutorial).


You will see in the upper left hand corner: Exporting Catalog. Do not close Lightroom for a few minutes after this bar finishes loading to give it enough time to save all the metadata. I like to wait 5-10 minutes after the bar disappears just to be safe.


9. Zip/Compress folders sent to your editor.
Go to your hard drive where you saved your smart preview catalog, and you will see three folders inside your main folder, John and Mary. There should be smart previews, previews, and an lrcat. These all need to be zipped together in the main folder John and Mary and sent to your editor. Do not leave any folders out or it will not load correctly.


Back up to the main folder, for example, John and Mary. Right click and send to a compressed folder or zip the folder that has all three files in it. *This step is only if you are sending a catalog to an editor and ensures when you send them this catalog on dropbox that it won’t get mixed up during the transfer.


This is what it will look like compressed/zipped. Then upload online dropbox or copy and paste on your desktop dropbox to your editor. And that’s it!


10. Sort your photos by color, rate, or flag. In library mode, in the upper middle section, above your photos,
you will see an option to click on text, attribute, metadata, or none.
Text: Sort by typing specific text or filenames to find photos
Attribute: Sort by flag, color, rating.
Metadata: Sort by camera, lenses, colors, rating.
None: Unsorting what you just sorted.


Quick tip: Want to edit faster?? Try editing a wedding or session backwards. Edit the reception first, because it will make you work faster to get to all the good parts! 😉
I hope this lengthy, but informative post was super helpful to you as a photographer wanting to either organize your workflow in Lightroom for yourself or to get your Lightroom nice and organized so you can start sending work to a private photo editor. If you are still looking for a private photo editor, I hope you will consider me as an option! I have two full time spots left to fill.
Visit: www.jenniferpittsphotography.com/for-photographers or Facebook.com/privatephotoeditor or @privatephotoeditor on Facebook. Stay tuned next time time for Recommended Programs to Help Grow Your Business!



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