My Lightroom 4 Workflow

I was asked today about exporting from Lightroom for a project I was working on, the 2013 Phoenix Comic Con. I decided to do an explanation of how I import to and export from Lightroom 4. I will not go into my editing workflow, though I may some other time. This is what I find works best for me to get the result I am looking for. There are other options out there, but this is what I use.


The first thing I will do is create a general folder. You can see in the photo above that I have a folder that I created called Comic_Con. For the sake of completeness, to create that folder, you right-click on the parent folder, in this case Photography and select ‘Create Folder Inside “Photography”‘. Then you will type Comic_Con and click ‘Okay’. Next, we repeat this process for the city, only this time you right-click on Comic_Con.

Now that we have our folders created, it is time to import. Make sure your camera or memory card are plugged into the computer. Then, instead of clicking the “Import…” button, right-click on the folder you want to import into and select “Import to this Folder…”


The source should default to your memory card or camera, though mine did not because I’m just making an example. You can choose either “Copy as DNG” or “Copy.” In the past, I used DNG. I now use “Copy” only because hard drive space is cheap, but feel free to use either. Working our way to the right side of the screen, on the top, right-hand corner of the screen is your final location. You shouldn’t need to change this. Working down, I leave the “Render Previews” at Minimal and I “Don’t Import Suspected Duplicates” checked.

The next option down is “Make a Second Copy To:” and then an option to choose a location. I highly suggest using this feature if you have a separate hard drive to store the files. Mine was unchecked because the photos I had imported are already stored on a second drive that is not attached to my computer right now. With my previous computer, I had a second hard drive to back up to, but I am not using that in this computer. In the mean time, I use Crashplan (which I am really happy with) to backup all of my data in the cloud and will keep my photos on the external drive until the backup is complete.

I will sometimes use “File Renaming,” but since I already chose to import into my Phoenix folder within Comic_Con, I have no real benefit to renaming. Plus, I wanted to make sure I retained the numbering my camera gave to the file since I restarted my numbering every morning.

Moving down further, I apply my copyright to every photo I import by using the “Metadata” option. If you need to create a copyright, just click new and fill in the blanks you wish to use. I fill in the sections for “IPTC Copyright” and “IPTC Creator,” but the choice is your’s to make, just be sure to save your metadata preset using drop down menu at the top of the dialog box, then click “Done.”

In this section, you can also add any keywords to your imported files. These keywords will be applied to every photo, so take care what you use. For the same reason I do not rename my files, I do not normally use keywords. However, for this project, I did need keywords so I entered the ones that covered all photos here.

Finally, for the “Destination,” I leave “Into Subfolder” unchecked. If you wish, you can check it and use a enter a folder name here. This would accomplish the same steps I did at the beginning. The problem I had was that I would forget the exact name for a folder and I would have to move files around. This way, I get the files exactly where I want them. I “Organize” By Date so that I can group my files by a common event, such as the Phoenix Comic Con and them find them by year. I use the format 2013/2013-05-31 so it will put all 2013 files into that folder. Within that 2013 folder, they will be organized by date. This is illustrated in the first photo. You may find another option works for you, but this is what works best for me.

Finally, click “Import” and Lightroom will work its magic and copy your photos for you.

Culling and Keywords
After the photos are on the computer, I will then begin the culling process. This can be time consuming, but it is important because it can save a lot of time later. For this project, I tackled everything at once. I selected the “2013” folder so I would go through all 1174 photos in one sitting. To begin, double-click on the very first photo so that it is enlarged. If you wish, hit “L” twice to remove other distractions on the screen.

Next, decide it you want to keep the photo or not. You may need to use your mouse to zoom in and out. The main thing I am looking for here is if my subject is in focus and if my framing was good. I’m also deciding if I simply like the photo. If it meets my criteria, I hit the “p” on my keyboard to flag it as a “Pick.” If it is completely out of focus or something where I must have hit my shutter button on accident, I will hit “x” to flag the photo as “Rejected.” When I am finished, I will delete all of the rejects. If it doesn’t fit either criteria, I just leave it alone. When I am done with that photo, I will hit the right arrow on my keyboard and to go on to the next photo.

Once I have gone through all of my photos, I will then go back to the beginning and edit them. To make this process faster, I will filter out all photos that are not “Picks.” To do this, near the word “Map” on the top right side of Lightroom is a drop-down menu that says “No Filter.” Click that menu and select “Flagged.” Another option is to go to the “Library” menu on the top left, select “Filter by Preset” and then select “Flagged.” Either of these options will remove any photos that are not flagged as “Picks” from your view. As a side note, if you “Rejected” some photos, even though they technically have a flag, they will not show up with this filter.

After I am done editing, I will go through my photos to add specific keywords. As I am adding the keywords, I will sometimes repeat the filter process from immediately prior to editing, except I select “Filters Off”. I do this because I might take a photo of a booth’s name before taking a good photo of the booth and this way I will have a name to add to the keywords. This is also where I am doing my final culling. I will remove some photos or add others that happen to catch my eye.

Finally, we are ready to export.



The very first step is to select the photos you want to export. The way I did this for the Comic Con was by using the filters again. First, I select the flagged photos again. Next, I filtered by clicking “Text” near the middle of the top in the “Library” module. In the text box, I typed keywords to help my get the photos I wanted based on how they were going to be uploaded to Flickr. In this case, I typed Barrowman so I am only viewing the flagged photos with Barrowman in the keywords. If I want to further select by day, I click “Metadata”. Each of the columns that are displayed are adjustable. Click one of them, and select “Date” from the drop-down menu if it is not already there.

Make sure the very first photo is selected and then hit Ctrl+A (Command+A on Macs) or go to the “Edit” menu on the top left and click “Select All.” This will, as the name suggests, select all photos that fit my filter criteria from the previous. Then click “Export” near the bottom left of the screen and the “Export” dialog box will open.

First, click “Add” on the bottom left and select a name. In my case, I chose “Contogs” as the name for my preset. Now, we are going to create our preset.


I “Export To” a “Specific folder” and then I chose a folder that was easy for me to find. In my case, I have a folder on my desktop called “Uploads.” I will export to this folder for all of my photos and then delete them once they are at their final destination. For this, I did put the photos into a “Subfolder” so check the box next to it, but leave the text blank.

Under “File Naming,” select the box for “Rename To:” and then select “Edit” from the drop-down menu.


From there, it is probably easiest to delete everything in the text box. Then, under “Sequence and Date”, use the drop-down menu for “Date,” select “Date (YYYY)” and click “Insert.” Then, in the text box, add an “_” followed by “PHXCC” and another “_”. Next, near the bottom, click the “Insert” next to to “Custom Text.” Back in the text box, type another “_” followed by your initials and another “_” before selecting the “Sequence.” Back under “Sequence and Date,” click “Sequence # (001)”. The result will automatically create a file name that is something like this: 2013_PHXCC__ERH_001.jpg.

Once we are done, with our naming template, click “Done” and we will be back at the “Export” dialog box. Once again, we are going to leave the “Custom Text:” box empty for the moment.

Under “File Settings”, make sure you use JPEG as the “Image Format.” I leave my quality set to 78, but the choice is yours. I set the “Color Space” to sRGB.

For “Image Sizing,” I select “Resize to Fit” the “Long Edge” and I used 1200 pixels per the instructions of the project. Another option is to instead use “Megapixels” and set it to 1.0. Regardless of the option, set the “Resolution” to “72” pixels per inch.

Under “Output Sharpening,” I have is set to “Sharpen For:” the “Screen”. The “Metadata” is set to “All.” I have “Remove Location Info” selected but that is not relevant to me since I do not add that information to begin with.

At this point, we are almost done. Select “Watermark:” and click on the drop-down menu next to it and select “Edit Watermarks…” to open the watermark dialog box.


Here we are going to choose the following:
Watermark Style: Graphic
Image Options: Choose… click this and find where your watermark is on the computer
Opacity: type ’40’ into the text box
Size: Proportional and type ’10’ into its text box
Horizontal Inset: type ‘1’
Vertical Inset: type ‘1’
Anchor: chose the bottom right button.
Click “Done”

One last step and then we can proceed to exporting. Right-click over the name for your preset and click “Update with Current Settings”. This will save our preset for us.

Now all we have to do to finish exporting is fill out two text boxes. The first is the “Subfolder.” Since I am exporting photos for John Barrowman, I used “Barrowman” here. Then, under “File Naming,” I typed “JBAR” as the acronym for his panel. Once I filled out those two, I clicked “Export” to begin the export process. Once the photos were exported, I added a color label to those photos by hitting a number between 6 and 9 (whatever number you use, keep it consistent). Then I moved on to the next set.

After these initial steps are followed, each export only requires entering the “subfolder” and acronym for the file name. I exported to a subfolder based on the set that I was going to use for Flickr. So, I had a folder for John Barrowman, another for the exhibition hall (by day) and so on. Since the largest file size was around 0.5 megabytes, I wasn’t really worried if I exported the same photo multiple times and the same goes for uploading.

When I opened up Flickr and uploaded one of the folders, I could then ignore that folder and move onto the next one. This was, photos were not accidentally uploaded twice and uploads were not missed.

I want to close with saying that this is how I did it. It works well for me, but it may not work for you.

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