I work with hundreds of photos a week. I use Lightroom to organize my archives and to post process all of my photos (sometimes I use Photoshop for more intense work). In the time that I’ve been using Lightroom, I’ve come up with some practical time savers that have made my workflow go a lot faster. I’d like to share them with you.
1) Spend a Little More Time Importing Your Photos
Of course, this will depend on the type of photos you took and what your intentions are with them, but when you’ve plugged in your camera and the “Import” dialog pops up in Lightroom, taking a few minutes to specify what Lightroom will do to your photos before they are Imported to your Library will save you lots of time when you’re in the Library or Develop modules.
For instance, if I know that the photos I’ve taken need to be searchable, I will specify an easily remembered filename (usually, I use the location and the date it was taken) to be applied while they are imported into my Lightroom catalog. When I need to search for them, I’ll simply go to the Library Module and type in a location and the date and all my photos with matching filenames will appear.
Sometimes, I’ll also add some keywords under the “Apply During Import” section.
During the import process, you’ll also have the opportunity to apply a preset to your photos. This is found in the “Develop Settings” drop down list.
If you have a preset you intend on applying to all of your photos anyway, applying them during import will save you lots of time in the Develop Module because you won’t have to wait for all of your photos to “sync” up before making more adjustments.
2) Make Presets of Adjustments That You Always Use
For instance, if you tend to always adjust your exposure by +? of a stop, make a preset that adjusts for ? of a stop. If you always need to adjust for a +1 stop, then make a preset for +1 stop, and so on.
Now, when you need to adjust for +? of a stop all you’ll need to do is click on the preset in the presets panel without having to feel around for +? on your exposure slider.
3) Put Your Photos Into a Collection
When you’ve accumulated thousands of photos in your catalog, you’ll know that scrolling through the Filmstrip in the Develop Module to find a single photo can take forever.
To make your life a lot simpler, put the photos you intend to work on in one collection before starting to work on adjustments in the Develop Module. Now, instead of having to switch to the Library Module and search for a specific photo, all you need to do is click on the collection in the Collections Panel and you’ll immediately have a limited set of photos (and not your entire Lightroom catalog) to scroll through.
4) Make Tone Adjustments in the Histogram
When you’re in the Develop Module, your first instinct is to probably start using the sliders in the Tone section to make adjustments to your photo.
Instead of using the sliders, try using the Histogram to correct or make adjustments to your levels. You’ll see that when you hover over the different sections in the histogram, the corresponding Tone slider will be highlighted.
All you have to do just click and drag on a section of the histogram you want to adjust and pull it left or right. Now, you can adjust your levels with instant visual feedback instead of having to focus your attention on one of the levels sliders. The added benefit of using the Histogram to make adjustments is that you’ll get a better understanding of how your files behave when you adjust them one way or the other.
5) Use Solo Mode
Solo mode in the Develop module means that only one adjustment panel is expanded and the others are neatly hidden away. (See pic below)
For instance, if you’re working with the Tone Curve panel, only the Tone Curve panel is in expanded view. This is a great time saver because you won’t have to scroll up and down the dozens of adjustments in the Develop Module when all the panels are in expanded view. Believe me, when you’re on a deadline, every movement of the mouse and stroke on the keyboard counts.
You’ll also learn to work more methodically when making adjustments because you’ll be focused on making just one adjustment instead of jumping from one panel to another.
To activate Solo Mode, simply right click on any of the adjustment panels in the Develop Module and click on “Solo Mode” to activate.
6) Simultaneously Export Groups of Photos
I don’t know the exact reason why this works but I believe it has something to do with the number of cores in your computer processors and how Lightroom uses them when exporting photos.
When you’re ready to export your photos into jpegs or any format you desire, exporting them in groups makes the process a lot faster. For instance, if you have 300 photos that need to be exported to jpeg, dividing them into two groups of 150 photos will take less time than if you exported all 300 photos at the same time.
All you have to do is select one group of photos and begin exporting them, then select the next group of photos you want to export. Keep the sequence of the photos in mind if you want to keep your photos in order.
The time savers I listed above have helped me tremendously with finishing and delivering my photos as quickly as possible to my clients.
The thinking behind most of the tips I gave you is about never having to take your hand off the computer mouse while making adjustments or searching for photos in your catalog. I wanted to share tips that would get you from your freshly imported photos to fully exported .jpegs in as few clicks and keystrokes as possible. It’s about being efficient with your workflow in Lightroom.
I work with hundreds of photos every week and so I’ve had to learn and develop some methods for working faster in Lightroom. Of course, having a super fast, nuclear powered, computer might help you work faster in Lightroom. But personally, I’ve been working on a 4-year old computer and I’m just as fast, if not faster than when I first started. I think that working smarter is a much more economical and practical way of achieving the same thing.
Every new set of photos I work on teaches me something new so hopefully, there’s be more chances to share my experiences with all of you.
Maybe you have some of your own Lightroom tips you can share with us! Share them with us in the comments section below.