June 16, 2015
Speed Up Your Photography Workflow in Lightroom

This is mainly intended for beginner to intermediate Lightroom users but even if you are an experienced pro, there may still be a couple of tips you weren’t aware of in here.

Lightroom is an amazing program for photographers and speeds up your workflow dramatically in comparison to using Photoshop, however, if you have a lot of photos to process there are several little tip and tricks that will sped things up even further for you.

Culling down to the good stuff

Picking which shots are the best when you have lots and lots to choose from can be tricky and takes time. Lightroom helps photographers with this by allowing you to give each photo a rating.

Hitting 1 – 5 on your keyboard will give each photo a star rating. I like to go through and give anything I think is worth a second look at least a 1 star rating. I then go through again filtering by 1 star (just click the first star next ‘filter’ in the bottom right of the image panel) and give them 2 or more stars. Repeat until you are down to your best shots.

If you don’t see the stars then you will see this:


Simply click on the word ‘filter’ to show them.



(I should mention, I actually use Photo Mechanic to do the first cull and then create a star rating but as that is a separate program I won’t go into that here.)

You should do this in the Library module rather than develop as Lightroom creates previews which mean your images will load much faster. Hitting ‘D’ on your keyboard will take you to the develop module if you want to make a couple of quick edits, ‘E’ will take you back to Library loupe mode (fullscreen) and ‘G’ will take you back to grid mode.


Use colour labels to help organise your work

LIghtrrom-filtered-greenYou can also assign a colour to each image with the 6 – 9 keys.This is useful for categorising photos.

Say for wedding photography you could give all the detail shots a yellow label, the portraits of the couple a red label or whatever. Just make a system and stick to it.

I use the colour labels to filter my best work, if I have a shot that I particularly love and think I might use it for my portfolio I label it green. For the shots that I might use for my blog I label them red. This way, I can select my entire Lightroom catalogue and easily find my best work when I decide it is time to update my portfolio.


Use Caps Lock

Turning Caps Lock on will move you to the next image after you have given the image a rating. This saves you hitting the right arrow all the time to move to the next image. It’s worth remembering that Caps Lock is on if you go over to Photoshop though, this toggles the cursor from a circle to a cross which doesn’t show your brush size.


Keyboard shortcuts

There are loads of these – Google ‘Lightroom keyboard shortcuts’ for a full list – but some of my most used are:

‘X’ Set as rejected

‘P’ Set as picked

‘U’ removes flag (undo ‘X’ or ‘P’)

‘R’ opens the crop tool

‘[‘ (square bracket) make brush smaller

‘]’ (square bracket) make brush larger

‘D’, ‘E’ & ‘G’ as previously mentioned to toggle between Library modes and Develop

I have my most used the Lightroom sliders mapped to these sliders to speed things upNot every function in Lightroom has a keyboard shortcut but there is software you can use to map any key to any function. Paddy for Lightroom on Windows and Knobroom on Mac.

By the way, I can’t recommend Paddy enough, I bought a Behringer BCF 2000 MIDI controller and have mapped my most used sliders to it using Paddy. I now have hardware sliders instead of having to click and drag on screen! It’s a little clunky and there isn’t a version for LR6 / CC yet but it works great and has sped my workflow up loads :-)



Presets and paste settings

SyncThese two features are, in my opinion, the most useful tools of Lightroom. Once you have got your settings exactly the way you like them for an image you can select other images and click ‘Sync’ which will paste the settings from the first image across all the other images you have selected. Clicking ‘Sync’ brings up a window with all the different panels in lightroom as tick boxes. This is asking you which settings you want to paste across. It is worth going through them and making sure you are happy for each one to copy across. For instance you may not want the white balance settings from the first image to copy across to all the others – especially if you have been shooting in Auto WB – as this may completely throw off the correct settings.


Add-PresetIf you shoot in RAW (and for most situations I strongly suggest that you start if you don’t already) then every image will need to have some basic correction applied to it before you start creating whatever effect you are going for. Rather than having to set these individually for each image you can create a preset that does it automatically for you.


To save a preset, get the settings to where you want them on an image then in the Presets panel on the left click the + icon. You will then be asked to name your preset, give it a name (standard import for example) and click ‘Create’. That preset will now appear under ‘User Presets’ in the Preset panel.


You can actually apply presets on import to further save time. In the Import screen there is a drop down menu called ‘Apply During Import’. Under the ‘Develop Settings’ dropdown you can select any preset you like. This will be applied to all images you import.

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