Photo Workflow in the Lightroom

Posted by on Aug 28, 2017 in Letters | No Comments

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.

  1. Files are imported and renamed in the Lightroom (LR) in following form using capture date and file ID generated by a camera:
    • <YYYY>/<YYYY>-<MM>-<DD>/<YYYY>-<MM>-<DD>_<ID#>.ext
  2. 1:1 preview are build at import with initial keyword
  3. 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)
  4. 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).
  5. 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).
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.

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