Lightroom – How To…

I’m writing this post for a friend of mine who is starting to shoot weddings and needs a list of what to do and the top features of LR and how to use them right now!

So, in point form, here we go:

When Shooting

  • shoot in raw no matter what you’re told or what you’ve read
  • read my post on how to get the best exposure (see below)
  • failing that shoot in program mode (aperture if you know how and why) with auto white balance and an ISO between 200-400 (1600 only in emergencies)
  • learn how and when to use your flash
  • get in closer
  • shoot at eye level
  • fill the frame with image you want
  • if I could only have one lens it would be a fast 35mm f/1.4 or f/1.8

How To Download Your Images (Here’s how I do it.)

  • turn your camera off and take the memory card out
  • put the memory card into a card reader
  • if any software says something like “Hey you’ve got images. Want me to download them?” say no
  • drag the folder into an external hard drive
  • rename the folder using a standard format that you’ll remember (event – date)
  • do the same for all memory cards of the event
  • back these images up by dragging the folders to a second external hard drive

Working with LR

  • Once all your images are safely stored in folders on at least two external hard drives fire up LR
  • Setup your default catalog on one of the external hard drives
  • Setup your Camera Raw Cache Settings to be another folder on the external hard drive
  • (notice we aren’t storing anything on your computer’s hard drive)
  • (I purposely haven’t automated LR to ingest images and automatically store them)

The Library Module

  • Now go to the Library module and import your images from your #1 external hard drive
  • In Library you can see your images in grid or individually
  • I do a first edit of keepers (one star or a colour) which usually reduces the number of images by a half or more
  • Depending on how you work, you can do some basic development changes to one or all (batch processes) of your picked images

The Develop Module

  • I bring my picks into Develop and I usually do a second round to editing keepers (200 or so get two stars)
  • I normally develop each image individually often using presets to speed things up 🙂
  • I also use NIK’s Colour Efex Pro 4 filters, Silver Efex Pro 2, NIK’s HDR Pro and OnOne’s Perfect Portrait and now Layers for LR where appropriate
  • I need to learn to automate this process more and has videos ($99) of Jared Platt showing how this is done (I bought the videos and they’re great)
  • I calibrate my monitor using a Spyder Pro 3
  • I set the white balance, the white and black sliders if there’s a spike at either end of the histogram, exposure and clarity, vibrance and saturation as needed
  • I often add a vignette and if necessary I reduce the noise using the noise slider which on LR 3 and 4 is amazing
  • finally under the File menu I export a full-size JPG to a folder in my computer’s Pictures folder (using the popup which sets a whole bunch of parameters for your image) which is appropriately named


  • after all the JPGs are in their folder I burn a DVD of the folder plus I upload a copy of the images to my SmugMug gallery for either client view and/or long term storage
  • I take the JPG folder on my computer and move and copy it to the two external hard drives in the folders that hold the raw images
  • and then I call the client 🙂

One thought on “Lightroom – How To…

  1. Hi Peter!

    Love the post. Should be printed up and laminated!

    Just one question — why would you keep the JPGs on your storage drive if you have the RAWs (developed) sitting on your drives already?

    What’s the advantage?



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