As a fellow photographer, I know you know the drill. The actual photoshoot is only one piece of the job. The rest of the work (and sometimes, the part that takes the longest) comes after the session is finished. Editing photos after a big event such as a wedding, or a week-long family vaycay can be an incredibly time-consuming job. Fortunately, thanks to programs like Adobe Lightroom, there are plenty of tools available to make the perfecting process a little less time-consuming.
Lightroom is a program that I have been using for years now. And honestly, I don’t know where I would be without it. One of the coolest features about Lightroom for me is all of the little shortcuts and tricks that they have implemented throughout its functions that make the usability so fast and user friendly.
But with so much intricacy to Lightroom… How do you know which functions are the most important to learn when it comes to saving time editing? I’ve come up with My Top 5 Crucial Time-saving tips for Lightroom that, no matter what kind of work you are doing, should be of benefit to you.
Lightroom Time Saving Tip # 1: Use your Filters while Culling
Culling is one of the most important steps that you can take when it comes to any sort of image processing workflow. Simply put, it helps you narrow down the very best photos in your session. Culling photos first will help avoid spending a ton of time of editing every single shot from your session.
You could take thousands of photographs in a session and when it comes down to it, only have a handful of jaw-dropping shots that you actually share. The idea is to cull out or remove the stories that don’t tell that beautifully compelling, visual story that you are aiming for. Fortunately, Lightroom has some awesome functions built into the program that can help speed things up when it comes to culling:
- Switch on your filter + rating toolbar
- Go through Photos and Accept/Reject Images (This means going through each photo and, using the little flags on the bottom of your screen, either ‘accept’ the good ones that you like, or ‘reject’ the bad ones that you do not plan to use whatsoever)
- Filter out the rejects
- You might choose to delete the rejected images to save some room, or if you want to keep them, you can filter out the rejects so that you’re only focusing on the images you want to work with.
- Add star rating to accepted images OR color label
To help you further narrow down your images, Lightroom gives the options of adding star ratings and color labels. Go through all your accepted images and use the star ratings to pick which images are your absolute favorites (5 star), or the ones that are still great but maybe not the best (you might categorize this as a 3 star for example)
Labeling photos with a certain color is another flexible way to quickly mark a large number of photos. Personally, I prefer to use the color labels more than star ratings, because Lightroom displays the colors much more prominently in the Grid view by surrounding the thumbnail in a totally different color. At a glance, I can pick a particular color out of hundreds of images. Color labels can be assigned through menus.
Bonus Tip: If you flip on Caps Lock while you are culling in Lightroom, you won’t need to manually advance to the next photograph, but rather after you apply your appropriate tag, Lightroom will automatically advance you to the next image.
Lightroom Time Saving Tip # 2: Presets
It might not come as a surprise to hear that Lightroom Presets are my absolute favorite way to save time while editing!
What absolutely hooked me on using presets is that anytime you want a certain ‘look’ to your images with similar tones and lighting, in one simple click of a button you can achieve that with Lightroom presets.
Presets can be created or purchased, then imported into your Lightroom for continued use. When you select the one you’d like to use, the sliders all move to the exact position of the Preset which in turn results in the editing style remaining the same throughout your photos!
Now don’t get me wrong. Presets are not the buy-all-end-all when it comes to your edits. Other factors like white balance, exposure and tone curve should all be played with as well.
Forget endless tweaking and wondering why your images don’t look the same, click here to see all of my available presets.
Lightroom Time Saving Tip # 3: Use Shortcuts
Lightroom allows keyboard shortcuts to speed up workflow and honestly they make editing so much easier. Not needing to scroll through any menus or click on anything when editing might not sound like a huge tip but if you are new to keyboard shortcuts… your editing game is about to seriously change.
There are TONS of keyboard shortcuts available in Lightroom, in fact, they even make keyboard covers with shortcuts right on them to help you memorize your favorites, but what I think matters most is mastering the ones you’re going to use on a regular basis. Here are a few of my most used shortcuts
- Enter Library Grid View. Shortcut: G
- Enter Develop Module. Shortcut: D
- Add To Quick/Target Collection. Shortcut: B
- Hide All Panels. Shortcut: Shift + Tab
- Show Clipping. Shortcut: J
- Mark Photo with reject flag: X
- Mark Photo With Pick Flag: P
- Remove Flag: U
- Mark Photo with Star: 1-5
- Remove Star Rating: 0
- Mark Photo with Color: 6-9 (Colors can be set in Menu)
Lightroom Time Saving Tip # 4: Batch Process: Copy/Paste Settings
This tip comes in handy when you have a series of photos that you want to make some wholesome changes across the board.
Pick the photo you want to start with and make the edits that you need. When you are happy with the editing, you will want to:
- Click copy at the bottom of your Lightroom screen, and copy all the settings
– this will bring up a copy settings dialogue box. Here you can select or deselect which settings you want to copy. If you want them to all be the same, click select all. Save your settings and exit the dialogue box.
- When you go back to your library with the rest of your images you will see that your edited photo has a little +/- which shows there have been some changes made to it, and now you want to copy those changes to the rest of your photos
- Hit CTRL + A which will select every photo, then while holding control
- De-select the first photo (that you already edited)
- Go down to Develop Settings and paste settings
It might take a few moments for your settings to transfer onto all of your images, but that is only a fraction compared to how long editing each individual photo can take!
Lightroom Time Saving Tip # 5: Have a Consistent Routine
My last tip is simple. Find an editing routine that works for you, and stick with it.
Having a consistent method of editing allows you to never miss any important steps, and can help speed everything up overall as you become more familiar with your routine.
For example, here is my personal workflow routine that I follow while editing:
- Import Images
- Cull photos
- Using the Develop Module, make wholesome adjustments such as color temperature
- Apply batch processing if possible
- Make localized changes such as cropping or straightening
- Use adjustment brushes to further improve your very best photos
- Make any last-minute adjustments
- Export photos to be shared with clients and loved ones
Lightroom is a huge program. There is an extensive amount of knowledge within the program to gain a full understanding of. With so much more to still learn, I try and challenge myself to pick up a new skill or learn a new trick whenever I edit in Lightroom! Just be patient with yourself. Lightroom is not easy and can take a long time to master. I know though that with a little practice, you have the skills to become a total pro.