I have very recently started using Lightroom. Wow, what a revelation is all I can say.
Over the years I have used a number of solutions to manage my ever growing archive of photos with varying levels of success. These systems have been reasonably efficient in tracking my archive contents but have needed a lot of management in the form of tags, filters and keywords with manual triggering of queries and actions. All usually went well until I forgot to run a particular query or trigger an update. This usually resulted in an hour or two of ‘tidying up’ and re-synching – all wasted time.
Lightroom will catalogue, track, process and print your photo collection with ease. It has very competent editing features that would probably satisfy most non-pro photographers. It’s not Photoshop by any stretch, but coupled with something like Photoshop Elements, the average prosumer and advanced amateur type photographer will have at hand a very capable photo cataloging and editing combination. Add to the mix that both are reasonably priced.
Lightroom has allowed me to easily get my archive in some sort of shape. After studying a number of tutorials and Youtube videos I have created an efficient and simple, yet sophisticated, and more importantly, semi automated workflow process. Moreover this cataloging, with smart collections at the core, allows me to use one process irrespective of the final intended use of the photo. Other systems have demanded I use either duplicated or complicated processes for each of my main outlets. So my Alamy workflow was managed separately to my retail site workflow which was different to my Twitter/Facebook/Blog workflow.
Heaven forbid if I wanted to easily track something that went to multiple outlets with different processing styles.
As with all software, there is a pretty steep learning curve, but the effort is definitely worth it. I can now easily track a photo through the workflow even if its going to Alamy in colour and another site in B&W. The system automatically lets me know if the image has been processed, fully keyworded, has the appropriate copyright wording and ready for upload on Alamy but still needs the B&W processing completing and keywords changing for the alternative outlet.
As your photo archive grows in size, the more important the need for an efficient tracking and processing workflow becomes.
Lightroom has forced me to change the way I manage my archive, and in my view, it has been a change for the better. Instead of trying to manage my archive in a way that fits whatever software packages I had before, Lightroom has given me the flexibility to manage my workflow in the way that suits my needs.
After reading a number of tutorials and videos, I soon learnt that Lightroom is so flexible, you can catalogue in almost any way you want to. I sat down and wrote my workflow on paper. I looked at the steps in simple terms that seemed logical to me and ended up with the following –
- Collect my photos into a waiting pot
- Select the keepers and highlight the duffers
- Evaluate the photo for style of processing – is it a standard scene or would it look good in B&W or HDR or whatever
- Where would be the best outlet – Alamy, my website or is it just a good photo for the archive
- Once the above is decided, process the image accordingly
- check the copyright is appropriate for the outlet
- keyword for the outlet
- update the XMP files
- Export and upload to the desired outlet
- Mark as completed
That’s my workflow step by step, I think it’s fairly straightforward. The snapshot above shows how I have translated this into Lightroom.
Here is the critical factor – Lightroom does this automatically with very few inputs from me. Simply by altering either one tag or keyword my photos drop through each tracking stage automatically as I move through the workflow.
I can’t believe how much this has revolutionised my workflow and, more importantly, freed up more time to do what I like best – take photos.
No more having to remember to trigger an action or query and far less blue language resulting from the realisation I forgot to trigger an action after a large processing or keywording session!
I will break down the workflow in more detail and show how you can change it to suit your needs in upcoming posts.
In the meantime you can check the following which helped me greatly in unleashing the full potential of Lightroom cataloguing.
Thanks for reading and please feel free to let me know your thoughts or ask any questions. Check out how I approached this task in more detail in this post Lightroom 5 – My 1st Step In A New Structured Photography Workflow