Workflow to process lots of photos from a shoot using Lightroom 3

After a lengthy model shoot, my wife and I may well have over 1000 images to review, so I would be completely lost without Lightroom – I have had it from the first version, and upgraded quickly when 3 came out having been very pleased with the beta.Workflow wise:

  1. I import from the memory card using a saved import template and apply a saved meta template, 2nd copy goes to NAS device on the network. I import into year folder and sub-folder named after the model. Very occasionally I will apply some development settings on import if I know there is something major to change (like white balance).
  2. I then skip through the imported images very quickly (using arrow keys) in Library loupe mode with sidebars & menus hidden (shift-tab, T) and lights out (L). This review means I am familiar with what images we have.
  3. As I go through, I hit X for obvious rejects of any images I do not like.
  4. Once I have done my quick review, I return to normal mode (shift-tab, T, L) and library grid view, and then filter to view only the rejects and select and delete them.
  5. I now go through again, using same mode as before, but this time I use the star ratings 1-5 as I go through (hitting the appropriate numeric key as I review each). If I have a lot of similar shots, then I usually keep the strip visible at the bottom so I can see what is coming up. If I have difficulty decided which I prefer from several similar pictures, I select them on the strip and switch to survey view. My preferred image gets a 3* or 4* rating. 5* is very rare, and something I aspire to.
  6. If there are a lot of images in a survey set, I knock a few out one at a time using the x at the bottom of each picture.
  7. When it gets really difficult to choose the best, I switch to compare view. I select what I think is the best candidate, and then compare carefully to each of the others. I use the keyboard arrow keys to work through the candidates and to do the promotions (that is to swap x and y so candidate becomes the selected).
  8. As I go through, I stack any images that are time-shift, composite, hdr, or panoramic (rare for model shoots) sets.
  9. Having rated all the shots that I think are probably decent candidates for finishing, I filter to see only those that are 3* or higher, and go through again picking out what I really like (keeping in mind that I do not need lots of shots that are the same) and the winners get colour coded (hit the keys 6-9 for the colour of your choice).
  10. At this point, for general shoots I usually add my best shots to collections. For model shoots, I tend to not want to mix shots of different models into collections.
  11. As the set of photos contains images taken by two photographers, I use smart collections to filter a set for each of us (using rating, colour, folder and meta data criteria). I do not have any keywords set at this point other than I might have tweaked for import. I really only want to keyword the keepers.
  12. At this point, I used to start going through the best images and start making minor alterations in Library mode. These days, I go straight to Development mode and work my way through.
  13. Where possible, I first look to apply common adjustments (temperature for example) to several photos.
  14. I do not think I have any specific workflow to the editing itself. I just do what I feel is right for each image, depending how much effort I think it merits. Those that need external processing (e.g. Photomatrix for HDR, Photoshop to do knock-outs, etc.) I flag with a different colour. I add keywords as I go through (often adding to groups of photos that have the same characteristics, e.g. red dress).
  15. Once I have completed my editing, I need to export versions of my images. I rarely use the other three modules (slide show, print or web). Mostly, I export to host on my own private website (which uses the amazing opensource coppermine gallery: I use presets to generate three versions of each image in different sizes which are then uploaded using an ftp package), and a few images for fun to flickr, facebook, etc. I also create a dng backup set of the final edited images (a catalogue export) – I know none of the edits are permanent.So, that’s what I do. Nothing particularly LR3 I think. Maybe I am missing out on a few things.

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