How Lightroom Can Help You Get Your Life Back

Sep 5

How Lightroom Can Help You Get Your Life Back

Hello and happy Saturday, photografriends!

Last month, I began a blog series about How To Get Your Life Back, where I talk about my workflow. The first blog in the series is all about Photo Mechanic, which is the program I use to cull weddings (step one in my workflow). Today’s blog is going to talk about the second step in my workflow: Lightroom. Since there’s so much that can be done in Lightroom and I don’t want to overwhelm anyone with it in a single blog, I’m going to break it up into a couple different blogs.

This initial blog is about importing and batching. I’ll also lay out how we deliver weddings in one week or less – all without outsourcing to an editing company.

Let me premise this blog post by saying workflows are really subjective to individual style, taste and preference. Photography is also my full-time gig, and I get a good 4 hours a day on weekdays set aside for editing. I’m also not an expert in Lightroom by any means, but I have discovered how it works best for me, my workflow and my clients – which is exactly what I’m sharing here today.

lightroom workflow tutorial

Lightroom, for me, was one of the most important discoveries in my journey as a professional photographer. Prior to Lightroom, I was individually editing each image in PhotoShop and even though I learned how to use actions, it was really hard to be consistent with my editing. And editing took hours, and hours; granted, I was still a novice and could likely edit a lot faster now if I wanted to, but that’s not the point. I was spending a full 8-10 hour day editing one single session. And weddings? I wanted to quit weddings after my first one, because it just took so long in post-production. I knew there had to be a better way: something fast, something consistent, something incredible.

Lightroom: My Something Incredible

That was when my dear friend Julie Paisley introduced me to Lightroom. She used words like “batch editing” for speed and “consistency” and my little bunny ears totally perked up with excitement. Could this be a true?! Could THIS be the program I’ve been dreaming about?! I immediately went home and purchased Lightroom 4, and was immediately overwhelmed. It’s NOTHING like PhotoShop, there’s no layers to adjust and I’ll be honest – it threw me through a loop for a good 6 months. I had to figure out my editing voice and had to figure out how to make my images consistent. Then I went to the Boudoir Divas workshop, and again – another lightbulb moment: Kimmy and Marissa explained how they will create custom presets for each studio set in Lightroom, to maintain a consistent look to their editing for each set. Absolutely genius.

So to recap step 1 in Photo Mechanic, I’ll go through my wedding images and I will categorize them into 6 color categories: Family/Formals (red), Getting Ready (yellow), Reception (green), Details (blue), Ceremony (purple) and Trash (gray). Once I’ve color categorized and culled the trashed the images I won’t be delivering … then I import them into Lightroom. Please note: I edit on a Mac, and I use Lightroom 4, so if you use a different version – it might look a bit different than you’re used to.

Importing Into Lightroom

While still in Photo Mechanic, I’ll right click on one of the images and select “Reveal In Finder” which will then pop up a new Finder tab that will show the RAW and sidecar files that I just categorized in Photo Mechanic. I’ll then select the images, right click on them, and “Open with Lightroom.”

importing from photo mechanic to lightroom

importing from photo mechanic to lightroom


importing from photo mechanic to lightroom

Once Lightroom opens up, you’ll see that the color classes have transferred over to Lightroom, and I’ll click on “Import.”

importing from photo mechanic to lightroom

The beauty of this system is that not only have I already removed the non-deliverable images from the gallery, but I’ve also been able to categorize the wedding so I can edit them in broken down sections (reception, ceremony, etc.).

Typical Post-Wedding Workflow:

Monday – Cull in Photo Mechanic, Edit Favorites

Tuesday – Blog Favorites, Share Favorites with clients and vendors, Edit Reception

Wednesday – Edit Ceremony and Getting Ready

Thursday – Edit Details and Formals

Friday – Deliver finished digital gallery to clients and vendors

Of course, there’s always the chance for hiccups in the workflow – like having an additional session to edit, or it’s summertime or life happens. But this is really, truly my typical post-wedding workflow. I don’t like waiting around with projects looming over my head, I don’t ever want to get the “hey, just checking to see when our wedding photos will be ready?” emails.

Since we do our absolute best to get the images correct straight out of the camera, that really cuts down on editing time. I also don’t do a lot of crazy stuff to our images – no rainbows or unicorns – because that’s not how the day genuinely looked. I also only edit in the morning while the kids are at school – I’m not a night owl, I don’t enjoy sitting at the computer when my kids get out of school in the afternoon. The whole point of being in business for myself is to be able to be a mom who supports her family – and using so Lightroom has granted me the freedom to do just that!

I also want to point out that we only schedule one wedding per weekend (we have one double-header weekend this year, and it’s only because the second couple that booked with us are past clients/friends of ours – definitely the exception to the rule!) and no more than 3 weddings in a month (except October, which has 4 because one wedding is on a Friday). We try to schedule one weekend day off each week to spend with the kids. Our time is incredibly valuable to us and we don’t want to overload our schedule.

Anyway – back to Lightroom!

Faster Editing Tip: Edit Backwards

For weddings, I like to edit backwards (it was actually something that Katelyn James recommended and I thought was absolutely genius) – I’ll start with the reception (because it’s the biggest category with the most pictures) and then I work my way backwards – saving Family/Formals for last (since they’re my favorite, and it’s almost like a reward to get to them).


As you can see in the last screen shot, all of the ones marked red are very similar in lighting and color. I already know I’m going to deliver all of these images – and I want them to be consistent, so I’ll do something called batching. Batching is where you select a number of images that you want to do the same thing to; in this case, I’m going to run one of my homemade presets on all of the selected images.

To batch edit in Lightroom:

  • Be in “Develop” mode.
  • Select the images you’d like to edit.
  • If you use presets, select the preset you want to use.
  • Adjust as necessary with curves or the sliders in the right column. Note: everything you do while all the images are selected will be performed on all of those images. So, for example, if you adjust the color balance on one – you do it to them all!

how to batch in lightroom

how to batch in lightroomAs you can see, I don’t do a whole lot of adjustments to my photos – a couple quick adjustments, and that’s it. The left is straight out of the camera and the right is the final edit. Super quick, super simple. Now, all of those images are consistently edited and will look great together in an album or as a collection on the wall.

being consistent in lightroom


Want More? Check out these other posts in my How To Get Your Life Back Workflow Series:

  • How to Quickly Cull and Categorize in Photo Mechanic
  • My Favorite Tools in Lightroom (coming soon!)
  • How to Export into PhotoShop for Quick Jobs (coming soon!)
  • Why Blogstomp is Going to be Your New BFF (coming soon!)
  • How to Make it Easy for Vendors to Love You with Pixieset (coming soon!)
  • Getting Published Using Two Bright Lights (coming soon!)

Until next week!