Photo workflow in the Lightroom is one important thing which may help or may break your work. Yes, you are right it doesn’t need to be the Adobe Lightroom. I had different versions of workflow for many years, but always fight with use of starts and color labels. Never got consistent and helpful process which would help me and which I would remember with ease.
My current system
Following is a system I am using for a while and it seems to satisfied my requirements for simple and useful way to organize my images and help me with the ever returning photo workflow in the Lightroom.
- Files are imported and renamed in the Lightroom (LR) in following form using capture date and file ID generated by a camera:
- 1:1 preview are build at import with initial keyword
- I go through all images and choose:
- rejects (those I am sure will never be good, blacks, total wrong,…)
- picks (those who I thing have potential to become something or are important for some reason
- no-picks (those which are not interesting at this moment)
- No star rating is done for images at this stage. Images are rated by stars as a value of quality, later. Either at edit or master stage. This means that quality rating is done final product (or almost final, maybe only master should have ratings).
- When an picked image is going to be used in a certain project, I’ll make a virtual copy of it and label it in RED – source. Then I may do some simple LR adjustment like crop and clean. Any other other edit action is allowed as long as it can be undone in LR (there is a history of the edit steps in this virtual copy).
- Once copy of the source image is edited outside of LR it will be labeled YELLOW – Edit. This is a new file, made in external program. There may be more of these edits from the original source image. These edits may have star rating to distinguish which I find better.
- Once the edit is finished it will be labeled GREEN – Master This file is then used to produced specific prints/outputs. It must have star rating (no option here). This is one of the final results of the original image.
- When master is edited for specific output, maybe different size, dpi, text or frame is added then it is marked in BLUE – print and will keep its star rating from master.
- If some specific files are added for editing, like mask, profiles, they are labeled PURPLE – other.
This process is one which fits my approach and my photo workflow in the Lightroom. It gave me a sense of color labeling, starts and picks. It incorporate the fact that I do most editing outside of the Lightroom and I use it only for basic editing as cropping, image cleaning, perspective adjustment and similar.
It is not my intention to force any of this to you. I publish it here for one simple reason: to help you if you struggle, as I did, with color labeling and rating of you images in general. There is however more to this story of photo workflow in the Lightroom. I have not mentioned how file names are changing when new files are created from the source image. I didn’t write about how I organize images for use in different projects/outputs. This all may be for next time.
Let me know if this was helpful and if you would like to know more about how I organize my work in the Lightroom or other programs for organizing and editing your images. Recently I was trying to find alternative to Lightroom on Linux. I went through many software packages. I am not done with this journey yet, but I have seen and tried following systems: Darktable, RawTherapee, AfterShot Pro, ON1 and some more.