Lightroom: My Workflow Revisited

category: Lightroom • 2 min read

About a year and half ago, I work a post on my Real Life Workflow with Lightroom. Since I already wrote a post on it, why write again? Because time has passed, and things have changed.

Please note that I’m quite bad at sticking with the same steps, day-in day-out. I would never be a “good” factory worker. I can’t do exactly the same thing every time. I’m terrible. The other reason for all the changes was the Lightroom upgrade. The straight upgrade of the catalog didn’t work well. Upgrading large catalogs significantly slowed down my work. So ended up saving all the sidecars and importing the photos in Lightroom1.

Directory Structure

I have 2 main directories:

  1. Photos: I copy all the photos from the memory card to the directory and sub-directories. It has that all the photos before they are imported into Lightroom.
  2. Library: The library is the photo storage after the raw photos have been imported in Lightroom


  1. Copy the photos from the memory card to the Photos sub-directories.
  2. Rename the photos in the Photos sub-directory from _mg_8765.cr2 to charlie-20101028-8765.cr2. Details are at: My Lightroom File Naming Conventions
  3. Import the photos in Lightroom by moving them to the Library directories. During the import, I assign my defaults, copyrights, name, address… I do not assign the keywords. Set the preview to 1:1. Please note that I do not keyword the photos at this time yet.
  4. Go immediately through the imported photos: P or X. Pick or Reject or do nothing with it. The reasons for Reject: wrong focus, camera moved meaning me, not sharp enough, wrong timing such as closed eyes…
  5. Select all the Rejected and Delete them and remove them from the hard drive.
  6. Select all the Picks and Add them to the Select collection.

    Lightroom: Picks, Selects and Prints Collections

    Lightroom: Picks, Selects and Prints Collections

  7. Filter in the Selects for the new photos2.

  8. Add the keywords and captions in the Select collection. Usually done in block
  9. Start the processing of the photos with the Develop module:

    • Crop
    • White Balance if needed
    • Apply Auto Tone. 90% of the time, the Auto Tone is an good improvement, if not there’s Undo.
    • Apply the manual settings of Brightness, Clarity, Vibrance and colors for the “right feel.”
  10. Go back through the current Selects and Pick the “good ones”. The picks from the Selects get dropped in the Picks collection.

  11. The Picks collection gets reprocessed, being much more careful and final adjustments.
  12. Go back through the current Selects and pick what the customer wants printed. These photos get dropped in the Prints collection.

  1. 3 month later, I’m still importing and processing the Lightroom photos. 

  2. I know that I don’t really have to do that step, I could have assigned the keywords… before moving the photos to the Selects. But this avoids me the mistake of “wrong processing”.