Photo Management Using Lightroom

PhotoMgmt

Title Credits: Henna by Designs by Anita

Do you remember the days of shooting with camera film and you had to think twice before every click of the shutter? It was expensive to buy film, process the rolls and order enlargements. With digital cameras, we’re able to take far more photos without breaking the bank. And I certainly do! Last year I took 8,867 photos. In 2010, I took 9,697 photos. Those are just family shots – around the house, around town, on vacation.

With that many photos, I need a photo management system to:

  • Organize my photo library
  • Process my photos quickly
  • Share my photos
  • Support my scrapbooking workflow

Lightroom is my system of choice to do all of that. We’ve had a few posts about Lightroom at The Daily Digi:

Here’s how I use Lightroom to speed up my photo management and processing:

PHOTO LIBRARY ORGANIZATION

When I import my photos into Lightroom, I quickly go through them and find the Picks and Rejects. Picks are photos that I am definitely going to process further and share on Flickr and Facebook with my family and friends. Rejects are the ones I will definitely delete – for reasons like terrible focus, closed eyes on a subject, etc.

(Some photos are neither a Pick nor a Reject. I just leave those alone. I’d rather err on the side of keeping them than regret deleting them later.)

Lightroom makes selecting photos easy – press P for Picks (which flags them) and X for Rejects (which lightly greys them out).

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Lightroom also allows you to tag your photos with keywords so that you can find them quickly later. I try to remember to tag, but I’ll admit that I’m not as up-to-date on this task as I should be! Mostly I just rely on my memory as to when a photo was taken to find it again.

PHOTO PROCESSING

I take far too many photos to not take advantage of Lightroom’s batch processing and presets. In a nutshell, that means that I edit one image in series and then copy and paste those settings onto all the other photos in the series. I can do dozens of photos in one click. Wonderful!

My SOOC (straight-out-of-the-camera) photos are a bit blah. I shoot in the “faithful” picture style which doesn’t add any in-camera processing. (So, no bumped contrast, saturation, etc.) I use Lightroom to add oomph to the pictures.

Lightroom allows for non-destructive editing of photos. (Basically this means that the original image remains intact and unaltered.) You can adjust things like exposure, highlights, shadows, contrast, vibrance, tone, sharpening and so much more in Lightroom. You can also make a series of adjustments and save them as a “preset” to be applied in one-click.

Presets are also available for purchase. My favourite presets are VSCO Film presets. Just like the name sounds, they give a realistic film look to digital photos. There are many different film varieties and VSCO offers them in varying intensities. Most of the time, I can choose one and I’m done editing in one click! It’s a time-saving miracle.

Here’s one of my photos of my son, after his Dad went to pick him up after his nap. This was taken in a dark-ish room. The room is blue and the light was coming through an orange curtain. After adjusting for white-balance, I was left with this:

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Then I applied VSCO Film preset Fuji Superia 100:

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Here’s another before and after example taken straight out of Lightroom. I just used a VSCO film preset, which gives more depth to the photo:

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And another example. This time featuring a dear deer:

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And one click later, a pretty deer portrait!

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I like these presets a lot because they’re simple and not too over-processed, which is perfect for my family album. (I do like heavily processed pictures when it adds to the mood of a scrapbook page or just for fun to share on Facebook with friends.)

SHARING PICTURES – FLICKR, FACEBOOK, ETC.

Lightroom has the ability to connect with Flickr and Facebook accounts. Once I’ve added my presets to my photos, I select the “keepers” and drag them to my Flickr account section within Lightroom and use the Publish command. It automatically converts them to JPGs with the edits applied and uploads them to my account.

Before I publish though, I go through my Picks and add titles and captions to the metadata panel.

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The metadata is automatically published onto my Flickr feed so that I don’t have to do it manually later.

PROCESSING FOR SCRAPBOOKING

At this point, I have my photos processed simply. If I go to do a scrapbook page and realize that I want a particular photo in black and white for the page, Lightroom has functionality to allow me to keep the simple editing AND create a black and white version. Just right-click on the image and select “Create Virtual Copy”. This does not copy the image – it just displays alternate processing on another preview in Lightroom.

Here’s an example of how a virtual copy looks in Lightroom:

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If you want more info about virtual copies, here’s how Adobe explains them.

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This just hits the highlights of what Lightroom can do! Years ago, when I was trying to decide how Lightroom would fit into my workflow, I wasn’t sure what it could do that Photoshop couldn’t. It’s true that I could get by with just Photoshop, but I am so much more organized and faster at processing with Lightroom in my toolkit. It just makes things easier and that’s always a good thing!

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