Workflow Extras

The basic workflow outlined in the last lesson is a great approach for a lot of the photo projects you will encounter. Sometimes, however, you may need to do things differently because of the requirements of the job, or the limitations of your equipment. This lesson outlines some of the more common variations in a Lightroom workflow.

Keep it simple
Short deadline workflow
Send to Photoshop
Project and Master catalogues

Keep it simple

In creating a workflow, it is always best to try and keep things as simple as possible. I have broken these additional procedures out into a separate lesson to make clear that they are optional. Some of these processes (such as sending to Photoshop or using a Project Catalog) should only be done because a simpler workflow 'breaks' for some reason.

Short deadline workflow

One common requirement for photographers is fast turn-around for a shoot. Photojournalism is often on a really tight deadline, and you may not have time to do stuff like building 1:1 previews for all images right away. The movie in Figure 1 outlines the import settings for a short deadline workflow, making use of the Minimal Preview setting.

Figure 1 Use the Minimal Previews if you are trying to find and export your selected images as fast as possible

Send to Photoshop

Sometimes you cannot prepare your images using Lightroom only, and you will need to go to Photoshop. This may be for further retouching, image compositing, panorama stitching, CMYK conversion, or fine-tuning the sharpening, colour or tone.

There are several ways to accomplish this. The biggest choice you will need to make is whether to keep the new Master TIFF files organized with the original raw files, or whether you want to make a new directory just for these new files. The movie in Figure 2 outlines this choice.

FIGURE 2You can export images to Photoshop for further retouching

Once you decide where to store the new files, sending images off to Photoshop is simple in Lightroom. Figure 3 shows how to set up your export if you want to keep the Master files in the same folder as the raw files. The movie in Figure 5 shows how you can set up the export to go to a separate directory for all master files.

  1. Choose the appropriate Export settings
  2. Export the files, and open in Photoshop
  3. Add to catalogue when done

FIGURE 3Lightroom makes it easy to send files directly to Photoshop and still manage the photos with your Lightroom catalogue. In this movie the Master files are sent to the same folder that holds the raw files

FIGURE 4In this movie, the files are sent to an entirely different directory of image files

Read more about the Export Settings in this course

Project and Master catalogues

Photographers who have large master Lightroom catalogues can sometimes run into roadblocks. If you are doing a location shoot on a laptop, maybe the catalogue is too big to fit on the computer. And sometimes, even if there is room for it, the large catalogue may run too slowly for your workflow needs. In these cases, it may be best to create a catalogue just for your current project (or one catalogue for all your current projects). You can use this for the current works-in-progress, and then add the images to a master catalogue once the job has been delivered. Here are the basic steps:

  1. Make a catalogue for the current project
  2. Import the current shoot and do your normal workflow
  3. Once the project is finished, import the project catalogue into the master catalogue
  4. Delete the project catalogue to avoid confusion

The movie in Figure 5 outlines how the process works, and Figures 6 and 7 demonstrate the process.

FIGURE 5This animated flowchart outlines the process for using Project Catalogues when your Master Catalogue is too big to fit on your laptop's internal drive

FIGURE 6This movie outlines where to store your Project Catalogue, and how to create it

FIGURE 7This movie shows how to merge your project catalogue into your master catalogue and transfer the files to the archive

Read more about transferring files at