I have recently started using Lightroom 5 to manage my photo collection and photographic work flow as discussed in this earlier post – Lightroom 5 – What A Revelation. I have never used Lightroom before and I hope my journey through adopting this new software as the core of my workflow will help others to become more efficient in managing their photography workflow.
In my first dabblings with Lightroom, I was fairly quickly struck with how vast the capabilities of this software application are. I knew you could catalogue your images and I knew you could process your images.
After studying some of their tutorials I realised I had missed something else – I didn’t fully appreciate the depth of features Lightroom has.
In short, I learnt that Lightroom is a complete photographers workflow management system. In fact, I am tempted to say that Lightroom is a photographers workflow management system with photo editing capabilities.
Why do I say this? Simply beacause, although these photo editing capabilities are very thorough and competent, they account for a smaller percentage of the applications total capability than the workflow management capabilities.
What I have very quickly grown to like is the flexibility that accompanies the depth of features.
Lightroom 5 is a very comprehensive package and, if approached correctly, will do a lot to take the load off managing your photo archive.
Reviewing your workflow is essential to fully utilise Lightrooms capabilities. A little prep work can easily bring the chaos of an unmanaged photo collection into line and under control.
A little prior forethought, analysis and planning now will repay itself many times in the future. My intention is to cut the time spent managing and processing photos to free up more time for getting out to take photos!
My intention is to cut the time spent managing and processing photos to free up more time for getting out to take photos!
Having realised I can streamline my entire workflow with Lightroom 5, I decided to step back and look at what I was currently doing with my photo collection.
So, how do you go about reviewing a workflow?
I looked at the following areas to help breakdown all the various steps and processes involved in my existing workflow
- how I file photos on my PC
- how I rate photos
- how I mark keepers and duffers
- how I work through the processing steps
- my favourite processing techniques e.g. B&W, HDR, panoramic etc
- how I track these processing variants
- how I manage ‘in progress’ photos
- how I manage end results
- my differing outlets e.g. web, blog, print etc
Normally I love to dive straight in with new software, but decided it’s better to do an analysis now before diving in and creating a structure. I don’t want to get a couple of weeks down the road and realise I have missed something fundamental.
I looked at a few more tutorials to help me understand in more detail what Lightroom offers. I then went through the steps described above to get a full picture of my current workflow. At each stage I looked at how I tackled that particular task. I wrote out on paper all the steps, current processes and software applications used. I then assessed how efficient I felt that current stage was in achieving the desired result. Key to this was to make sure I noted any particular issues that caused me problems or difficulties.
In going through each stage, I eventually had a large list of the steps I go through, what software packages I used, how effective each step was, and most usefully, a list of ineffective tasks, issues that caused problems and things I couldn’t do easily.
I eventually had a large list of what steps I go through, what software packages I used, how effective each step was, and most usefully, a list of ineffective tasks, issues that caused problems and things I couldn’t do easily.
This evaluation took a few hours, but it allowed me to understand what works, what doesn’t work and what I can’t do easily.
I could now clearly see my existing system and start work towards building a new workflow step by step.
I hope by following through how I tackled my collection you can pick up some tips to help evaluate and improve your workflow. If you have never used Lightroom, then I can definitely recommend looking through some of the tutorial links I posted to see what can be achieved. There is a 30 day free trial of Lightroom 5 at Adobe for you to download and have a play with.
Next time I will go through my analysis and explain what I used to do and how I use Lightroom to do it now.
Thanks for reading and please feel free to comment and leave your thoughts on what I have discussed.