Understanding Lightroom Workflow


It has a nice ring to it, right? Yet, this simple term has been bandied about and written on over and over again in the photography realm. Why?


I am of the mentality that workflow is just as valuable as your photography gear. 

There are plenty of different approaches to creating an effective workflow, and I will be talking about some of those approaches in my next post. For now, and to get you thinking, I want to talk about some of the reasons why an effective workflow is so important. My hope is that this will get you excited about starting a new approach to working or to spruce up your already effective routine!

1. Routine

If you are a photographer, you are a creative, no ifs, ands or buts about it. Accept it. Embrace it. Live it. 

As creative people, we have a billion different things going on in our minds. And, if you are even remotely invested in a photography business, even if it's just part-time (does such a thing even exist? A part-time photography business?) you are constantly thinking about your business - branding, marketing, finding new clients, staying afloat in an oversaturated market. 

It can all become overwhelming very quickly. 

This is why routine can be a way of lifting some of the burden. Knowing exactly how you are going to shoot, edit and archive your images will a) give you a sense of security because you'll have a plan and b) give you a rough idea of how much time you will need for editing.

Lightroom Workflow

2. Time Management

This should go without saying, but the best kind of workflow is one that uses the fewest steps possible while maintaining a quality output.

Knowing that your process is shoot, import, sort, basic adjustments, advanced adjustments, resizing, archiving and printing (just an example) will save you time because you won't be bouncing from one step to the next unprepared, which will keep you from having to go back to, say, step two over and over again. 

3. Insurance

Having an efficient workflow will help minimize the chances of you losing data. Files accumulate quickly on hard drives, and when they are not organized, they sometimes fall prey to unintentional deleting. Keeping your files organized as part of your workflow will also make routine backups faster and easier to perform. 

4. Manageability 

This relates back to time management, but I am giving manageability its own category because the more photos you make, the more that manageability becomes important. After a few years (maybe even a few months, depending on how much you shoot) your archive can become a wild beast. If you do not tame the beast, you will be outsmarted by it. 

Don't let your photo archives outsmart you. 

A way to keep the upper hand is by naming your folders - this is really good starting place. Even if it is numerical, it needs a label. Another thing to do is to delete some of your originals. Personally, I prefer to keep some of my originals, but they are carefully labeled and they are NOT stored on my main hard drive, as that takes up way too much space. 

These are just four important points to keep in mind when thinking about creating a new workflow or improving on an existing one. What is most important to you in your workflow?