Are your summer vacation and family gathering photos stacking up on your camera card or phone?
You may be taking a lot of photos with the intention of posting some on social media, or creating an album. But you may find that some of your pictures need tweaking and a little bit of organization.
Lightroom is a photo editing and organization tool we use everyday at Picture This Organized. Professional photographers use it, but so can you!
In this post, we explain Lightroom, give you some tips to use it, and give some examples that illustrate how you can make your summer photos shine.
An Introduction to Lightroom
Our photo technicians at Picture This Organized are all veteran Lightroom users. They define Lightroom as a catalog service where you can store thousands of photos.
Lightroom lets you edit multiple photos at once. Are 50 of your photos too dark? With Lightroom you can select all 50 and apply the same edit with one click.
When editing a photo, our staff explain Lightroom as a “non-destructive program,” meaning you are only working with a digital copy of your photo, not the original. In LR you are never working with the original file, only a preview – so you can always go back to your untouched original.
Lightroom is the perfect beginner’s editing software for your day to day photos or entire photo collection.
How We Use Lightroom for Our Client Photos
At Picture This Organized, we keep our clients’ images in their own Lightroom catalog. This allows us to quickly access photos and easily import new photos.
We use Lightroom at PTO to edit, organize and publish our clients photos. First, we import the already organized collection into the clients catalog. Once the import is finished we can add important metadata like keywords and facial recognition.
Lightroom is also a great tool for visual editing like cropping, exposure changes and even slight restoration of old photos. While we don’t make extensive edits, we can make small changes to imported client photos.
Once we finalize a photo’s edits and metadata, we use Lightroom’s SmugMug plugin to publish the collection straight to our client’s Family SmugMug Site. Lightroom benefits our clients by making our organization workflow much more efficient.
Understanding the Lightroom Family of Options
Adobe offers Lightroom as a standalone mobile app, an upgraded mobile app, or the Adobe Creative Cloud plan with Lightroom bundled with other photo applications.
Adobe Lightroom Mobile
This free app, available for both iPhone and Android, allows you to import photos from your phone’s camera roll and edit images on the go. Unlike the desktop version, the mobile app does not work as a catalog service, so you can only edit one photo at a time.
The free version of the app does have some noticeable limitations, so if you want some of the extra features, you can upgrade to the paid version which gives you 1TB to backup your original photos. Then you can access them from your other devices, or your desktop computer. The paid version also adds tools to your app like:
- Healing Brush which allows you to easily remove unwanted spots or items from your photos.
- Sensei Search which identifies objects in your photos and tags your photos for you for easier organization.
Lightroom Photography Plan
This basic plan for individuals includes:
- Adobe Photoshop Lightroom – the ability to edit and share photos from any device.
- Lightroom Classic – the desktop-focused app for editing and organizing your photos.
- Adobe Photoshop – the app with more advanced photo editing and image creating tools.
- Adobe Spark – for creating social graphics, videos, and webpages.
- Adobe Portfolio – the app for building your own website.
- 20GB of Cloud photo storage.
The package costs $9.99 if paid monthly, or $119.88 if you pay for one year.
The Lightroom product you choose depends on several factors. Do you take most of your photos with a DSLR camera or your phone? Do you like to do most of your photo editing quickly on your phone, or do you want to work on large collections while sitting at your computer?
Our photo technicians are fans of the desktop version of Lightroom (Lightroom Classic). They love the fact that you can easily sync and edit the day-to-day photos taken on your phone, or large groups of photos from that big vacation that you might want to turn into an album.
Adding Lightroom Presets
Lightroom also lets you create and purchase presets. Think of these as higher level photo filters. Presets sit in your Lightroom catalog and you can apply one to your photo, editing the image in many different ways with one click.
The mobile app comes with some built-in presets, but you can also purchase other presets. Just keep in mind that if you edit photos exclusively on the Mobile app, you will need to purchase presets specifically made for editing JPGs.
A final note about presets is they help you with serious editing if you want that, but they aren’t a one stop shop. You still have to adjust certain settings because each photo’s lighting and colors are unique.
The Best Lightroom Product for Your End Result
If you plan to post photos using a mobile app like Instagram, we recommend editing them on your phone. The higher resolution of the computer screen can sometimes make edits look great on a computer but a little off on the phone.
But if you’re looking to print a photo, then edit it on your computer, because higher resolution gives a more accurate printed copy.
The Top Lightroom Tips of our PTO Team
If the thought of editing photos intimidates you, this previous post explains all the different and easy things we can do to our photos to improve them.
Here are some ways our photo technicians at Picture This Organized use Lightroom with their own photos.
Bri uses the organizational features of Lightroom. She creates multiple catalogs and collections to keep things organized, and uses the stars and color coding to highlight the images she wants to edit.
Lightroom is a robust program with multiple “modules”. Each module performs different operations tailored to specific phases of your workflow. The Develop module is where you will find all the editing tools, and it’s where you will spend most of your time.
MacKenzi uses the Develop module to apply edits like exposure changes, cropping, clone fixes, and sharpening eyes with the brush mode. She also likes to use the brush tool to edit specific parts of a photo. For example, you can make one spot brighter or darker, or you can sharpen peoples’ eyes to give the picture an extra pop.
Aaron likes the sync feature for editing similar photos quickly. Rather than editing one image at a time, this feature allows you to easily edit multiple photos at once.
If you aren’t sure where to start when editing a photo, Aaron suggests clicking the “auto” button which automatically adjusts exposure, highlights, contrast, shadows, etc. Aaron also uses the auto WB (white balance) button. It’s a great tool that automatically adjusts the temperature of your image depending on what lighting situation you were shooting in. Finally, the crop tool easily allows you to crop, rotate and straighten your image.
Original photo (left) vs. photo (right) edited on the free Lightroom mobile app using the “Auto” button.
Original photo (left) vs. photo (right) edited on the free Lightroom mobile app with “Effects” – “Dehaze.”
Original photo (left) vs. photo (right) edited in Lightroom Classic on a desktop computer using a preset.
How Photoshop Differs from Lightroom
Photoshop is a more technical program than Lightroom. Lightroom is what we would almost call a surface edit. You make the small changes, adjusting the brightness, remove a few dust spots, add a filter. All these things are surface work. Photoshop allows you to totally modify the whole image, creating layers upon layers of editing and reformatting.
However, when working in Photoshop, you can only import and work on one image at a time, which can be a long and daunting process. Photoshop offers more in-depth level editing geared for professional photographers. If you do use Photoshop to edit an image and inadvertently save over the original, it’s essentially gone.
You Don’t Have to Be Tech Savvy to Use Lightroom
Both amateur and professional photographers agree that with a little bit of practice, Lightroom is an easy tool to use.
It’s perfect for anyone who only takes pictures with their phone and want a quick edit on the fly. And if you use a traditional camera, the small investment of the desktop version will give you even more editing and organization options.
So have fun snapping pictures on your summer vacation! Then enhance your photos with Lightroom.
Have a collection with more photos than you have time for? Contact us to see how we can help.