Speed Up Your Lightroom Workflow



The following is an excerpt from the SLR Lounge Lightroom Workflow System Workshop on DVD, a system designed to increase your post production speed by 5 to 10 times. Click here to learn more.

 Anyone running a growing photography studio can attest to how a photographer’s workflow can quickly run out of control without a proper system and management. The goal of the SLR Lounge Workflow System is to help photographers establish a solid production workflow, as well as improve workflow efficiency by up to 10 times producing images at speed of 1,500 images per hour. In this article, we are going to give you 5 tips on improving Lightroom 4 workflow efficiency.

Tip 1. Efficiency in Post Production Begins with Production

The way you shoot is going to have a major impact over your overall post production efficiency.
Shooting in any of the automated modes are going to create inconsistency in the overall exposure
within a particular scene. While there are situations where shooting in Aperture or Shutter Priority are
necessary, shooting in Manual mode is the best for overall efficiency.

While shooting in Manual, simply adjust your exposure from scene to scene or whenever there is a shift
in lighting. It may take a bit of practice, but doing so will provide for much more consistent exposures
which can then be batch processed much easier within Lightroom.

Tip 2. Cull Your Images in the Library Module

Did you know that culling your images within the Develop Module will automatically slow down your
Lightroom editing speed? This is because the Develop Module has to use a more complete image
previews for processing, thus requiring additional render time. Library Module previews are optimized
for speed in order to give you a quick glance simply to cull and organize your images. This holds true
regardless of whether you have already rendered 1:1 previews.

Tip 3. Only Keep the Images that Add Value

Photographers often get stuck on delivering too many images from a shoot. Often times these images
are near duplicates or may feature expressions that aren’t as flattering as others. If we come back with
500 images from a portrait session, when our staff first begins training, they are keeping around 200 of
these images. We train them to deliver around 60-80 of those, while the rest are culled out.

The reason for this is because we want to only keep images that add value to our overall product.
Similar expressions, unflattering expressions, bad compositions, exposures, etc should all be Rejected
as they will dilute your overall product deliver. Just imagine this from a client’s perspective. If you were
to receive 50 amazing photos, wouldn’t that give you a better impression than receiving a 100 average
photos with 50 great photos mixed in? Don’t dilute your product by delivering too much!

Tip 4. Reduce the Number of Keystrokes When Culling

Lightroom and other raw processors feature a lot of options when it comes to rating and flagging your
images. When starting out, many photographers feel the need to use overly complex systems to rate
their photos. For example:

1 Star = Delete
2 Stars = Keep but don’t produce or deliver
3 Stars = Produce and deliver
4 Stars = Blog worthy
5 Stars = Portfolio worthy

While a system like this can sound very descriptive and impressive, it is an absolute nightmare on your
culling process. While doing your initial culling, just imagine having to make 5 different decisions on
exactly how good a photo is then pressing 1 of 5 keys to mark that decision. You may think that this will
only take 4-5 seconds or so, but spread that time over thousands of images and you are looking at hours
upon hours worth of time.

Instead, use a simple 1-click culling system. We use a “Culling In” system of delivery which means that
when a new shoot is imported into Lightroom, we first mark all of the images as a “Reject” by selecting
all images and hitting “X.” Rather than making any complex decisions, we are simply making one
decision with each image, “should we keep this photo.” If the answer is yes, we simply press “P” to flag
the image as a keeper.

This simple approach to culling will tremendously speed up your culling speed.

Tip 5. Before Developing Render 1:1 Previews

Before you begin working on processing any images, make sure that you have selected all of your
images in your Lightroom catalog (or at least all of your keepers) and then select Render 1:1 Previews as
shown below.

Depending on the size of your catalog, you may want to do this during lunch or even overnight if you are
working on a wedding as it can take several hours. However, once completed, you can move from image
to image within the Develop Module with much greater speed since Lightroom won’t be rendering these
previews on the fly.

Hopefully these tips will be of help to you. For those of you that are running a photography business, or simply take a lot of photos, I would highly recommend looking into the SLR Lounge Workflow System Workshop on DVD. It contains 7 hours of education covering everything in a photographer’s Lightroom production workflow including: data safety procedures, file management, culling standards and overall develop techniques to increase your post production efficiency by up to 15x! In fact, using this Workflow System we can cull and edit over 1,500 images per hour!

Don’t believe us, watch the teaser video! The Workflow System is also available as a part of the Lightroom 4 Workshop Collection. To learn more click link.


About the author


PyeAbout Pye: Pye (AKA Post Production Pye) is a founder and the Managing Editor for SLR Lounge. Pye is also a Partner of Lin and Jirsa Photography,  “http://www.linandjirsablog.com”  an Orange County based wedding, engagement and portrait photography studio.




This is the third post in the CMD Business Series for 2013! Stay tuned each week for more.

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