A few friends have asked how I manage to turn around my pictures so quickly. I’ve used Adobe Lightroom since it was in beta and now have a workflow process in place that allows me to quickly select my best shots from a shoot, post-process them as necessary and export them. So I thought for this post I’d outline what I do. If you haven’t yet got Lightroom and you shoot in RAW I would certainly recommend it.

My workflow is as follows:

  1. Import the images from the shoot to a folder on your local hard disk. I also convert the RAW images to Adobes Digital Negative (DNG) format. This is an open source RAW format which give you a few more options than the camera’s default RAW format. I import into a new folder for each shoot to keep things separate. Finally, during import, I also add any common metadata for all the shots I’m importing.
  2. Next I make sure my Quick Collection (in the Library) is empty.
  3. Now the fun begins. I switch to the Library and select the folder I have just imported. Rather than stay in Grid view I switch to Loupe view so I can see each photo clearly, then I just step through each of the shots I’ve taken. If I like a shot and consider it one of the better ones from the shoot I press the B key. This adds the photo to your Quick Collection. Step through all your photos like this adding them to the Quick Collection if necessary.
  4. Switching to the Quick Collection brings up all the best photos I’ve just selected. Now these may still need some (or a lot of) work in the Develop module but you now have them all together.
  5. Moving into the Develop module I again step through each shot in the Quick Collection to work on the settings. I generally tend to work through the Develop options from top to bottom – Basic, Tones, HSL, etc. Sometimes, even though I’ve added a photo to the Quick Collection, when I come to work on it in the Develop module I might find that its not that good after all. If this is the case then just press the B key again to remove the shot from the Collection.
  6. Once you’ve cropped and adjusted all the settings from the photos you selected, return to the Library and once again view the Quick Collection and switch to Grid view.
  7. Next select all the photos (Ctrl/Cmd-A). Next to the Collections panel on the left you’ll see a + symbol. Click this to create a new permanent Collection, give the collection a name, and make sure the option to include selected photos is checked.
  8. Finally, select your new collection to see the best of the shots from your recent shoot. From here you can export, create a slideshow or make a web gallery.

Once you get used to this way of doing things it becomes very quick to process your photos after a shoot. Of course there are many other steps you can include, such as pulling into Photoshop and making more radical amends,etc so this method is only really suitable for tweaks and changes you can do within Lightroom.