When I heard that Scott was interested in adding Lightroom to his workflow I asked if I could share some things Ive learned over the years helping other photographers get the most out of this amazing (though sometimes frustrating) program. Many thanks to Scott for the opportunity. I hope you find it helpful!
1. Use Twitter. It may seem odd to start out a Lightroom list with a social media application, but while I have had Photofocus in my RSS reader for awhile it was through Twitter that I learned about Scott’s new interest in Lightroom! I use Tweetdeck and have a dedicated Lightroom search column set up that provides a steady stream of up-to-the-minute Lightroom news and content. More important than the news feed though is the opportunity to ask questions and get answers in real time! Tweet your and you might get an that makes you . Start by following members of the Lightroom team.
2. Fully grasp the relationship between your source photos and the Lightroom catalog. Wrapping your brain around this fundamental concept will save you countless hours of frustration down the road. There is no better tutorial on the subject than The Lightroom Catalog – Part 1, or Where Are My Pictures? by George Jardine. If I had my way it would ship with the Lightroom install and auto play on first launch of the application.
3. Learn how to rename and move photos using Lightroom. Lightroom only knows what happens to your photos when you do the work inside of Lightroom. If you rename or move photos from inside Lightroom you will keep the catalog in sync with your source photos. Otherwise you’ll want to know how to reconnect your photos to the Lightroom catalog after the fact.
4. Backup your Lightroom catalog on a regular basis. All the work you do inside of Lightroom is stored inside of the Lightroom catalog (the file with the .lrcat extension). You can have Lightroom write changes from the catalog to your photo’s XMP metadata but keep in mind that collection membership, virtual copies, flag status and the past steps in the Develop modules History panel are *not* written into XMP metadata. In other words, there is data in your catalogs that does not exist anywhere else, so take the steps to back those catalogs up.
5. Learn how to apply your own custom watermark on export. Lightroom’s native copyright watermark function leaves a lot to be desired, so I highly recommend using a (donationware) export plugin called LR2Mogrify. Here’s a tutorial to walk you through the options for applying watermarks with that plugin.
6. Participate in the Lightroom community! There is a thriving community of Lightroom users eager to compare notes, share best practices, provide solid advice and help you out of tough situations. The most active and guru-filled forums are Adobe’s own Lightroom User to User forum, the non-Adobe affiliated Lightroom Forums and the Lightroom Flickr Group. Those are the first places I turn when I need an answer to a Lightroom problem.
7. Visit Adobe’s Lightroom Help Center. This is a wonderful resource for learning about Lightroom. It is regularly updated with (free) video and written tutorials as well as being home to the online Lightroom help documentation and a search function that includes the best online community resources. Excellent one-stop shopping!
8. Bookmark the best Lightroom-centric blogs. There are a number of Lightroom resources that I check on a weekly basis to stay current with the latest news and tutorials. Start with Lightroom-News.com, Lightroom Killer Tips, and Lightroom Journal or just head to Lightroom.Alltop.com for an overdose of Lightroom blogging goodness.
9. Expand your web gallery options. One of the areas that Adobe opened up to third-party developers is the creation of new web engines to add to your arsenal. The web engines that come with Lightroom are pretty good, but if you are interested in greater variety, customization, paypal integration and more head over to Lightroom Galleries and The Turning Gate to take you web presence to the next level.
10. Experiment with Develop presets! Best for last? Perhaps. I’m a pretty practical guy, but the main point of Lightroom is making your photos match your vision. A Develop preset is simply a way to save (and potentially share) a configuration of settings that create a desired result. There are a ton of great Develop presets available that can help you see what is possible and save you time when processing your photos. Adobe’s Lightroom Exchange is a good starting point to find presets from a variety of creators, but some of my favorites are from Matt Kloskowski, XEquals, Inside Lightroom and the Presetting Lightroom Flickr Group.
Rob writes the “Under the Loupe” column for Photoshop User Magazine, and is the author of many photography related books.