Whenever I do any type of travel, whether it’s domestic or overseas, I always joke that it’s difficult for photographers to not look like traveling hoarders. After all, along with the standard luggage (for me, that’s one normal-sized suitcase and a small carry-on), we also have our camera gear to deal with, which is one (or two) additional pieces of luggage. And the sad part is that when it comes to camera gear, we tend to bring more than we need. When visiting a new location for the first time, it’s difficult to know what lenses and equipment you might want to use in a given situation, so it’s very tempting to just bring it all. In my experience this leads to lots of unused gear and added weight to carry around on my back.

To try and make things a little easier, I have come up with a simple way to use Lightroom’s filtering system to help me determine which lenses to bring along with me on my next journey. Here’s how:

1. Select folders in Lightroom: First, I go into the Library module and highlight the folders that contain some of my most recent travel images. For me, this was the folders containing images to Vietnam, Cambodia, and Australia, all photographed in the last two years. These folders have images similar to ones I expect to take on my upcoming trip to Thailand.

2. Show the Filter Bar: Next, I pressed the backslash key on my keyboard “\” to bring up the Library Filtering bar at the top (it can also be accessed by going to “View > Show Filter Bar”). Then, I clicked on “Metadata” to drop down the metadata filtering options.

3. Select the Lens filtering option: To find out what lenses I used most on my trips, I like to filter my images from recent trips to see how many images were photographed with each lens I traveled with. To do this, I started by clicking on the top-left label and chose “Lens” from the drop-down.

4. Select additional filters, as necessary: Because there are four filtering columns, I thought I could add a few more to get some extra information about my photo-taking habits while traveling. I chose to not only filter by lens, but also filter by focal length as well. I also added “Camera” to see which cameras were used, as well as the “File Type”, so that I can filter them down by images that have been processed (typically a fully-edited photo of mine will either be a TIF or a PSD file).

By my list below, you can clearly see that my most-used lenses are my 70-200mm and my 100mm macro. These two lenses will definitely make their way into my camera bag when I travel!

5. Save the filter settings as a preset: Now, if I want to quickly check these settings in the future, all I need to do is save this as a preset. To do this I click on the drop-down in the top-right section of the Filter Bar (next to the lock icon). Then, I select “Save Current Settings as New Preset…” and give it a name.

6. Filter your images down to get more information: If you want to sort out even more information from your images, start highlighting some of the options in the filter columns. You can even use the filters from the Toolbar above the filmstrip to sort for things such as flags and ratings.

lavender-square-150pxNicole S. Young is a professional photographer living in Portland, Oregon. She is the author of several print books and eBooks, and runs her own online store for photographers, the “Nicolesy Store“.

You can read more of Nicole’s articles HERE, and view her work and website HERE.

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Join the conversation! 3 Comments

  1. Information is power; the data in lightroom included.

  2. Yon can also manage the same in Aperture. I used this method to help my decision on which lens to purchase by showing which focal lengths I use the most.

  3. I really like this idea. It is not an approach I had thought about at all.
    Sometimes I go out with a specific agenda & know exactly what lenses I need, and sometimes I am undecided and end up with the whole sack full!
    Obviously it must be used as a general rule of thumb…ok, you’ve only used such & such lenses previously…but fancy a good strong portrait type shot, bung in that 105mm macro too. you can leave out the other three superfluous ones!


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About Nicole S. Young

Photographer, author, entrepreneur. I love photographing food and landscapes, and have written several how-to books on Photography, post-processing, and creative inspiration. You can find more about me on my blog, online store, as well as on Google+ and Twitter.


Adobe, Photography, Technique & Tutorials


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