One of the most spectacular changes in photography over the past decade has been the emergence of Adobe Lightroom (officially called “Adobe Photoshop Lightroom”) as the tool for photo asset management, editing and production for everyone from beginners to pros.
Lightroom was conceived as an additional utility that would make “managing your photos” easier. But it has become much more: rather than just a utility, it is now the centre of a professional workflow that can save 80% of the time you used to take before for the same job. A wedding that took me 8 days to finish in Photoshop now takes a day.
So what does Lightroom do more, or better, than Photoshop?
The question is a little misleading. They are different beasts, aimed at different tasks. Photoshop is for illustrators that need to spend an hour on one photo; Lightroom is for photographers who need to do 100 photos an hour. Nevertheless, they both overlap to some extent: both offer some asset management (using Bridge, in Photoshop’s case), editing, and some production.
Where Lightroom shines is in its practicality. Lightroom offers:
- Non destructive editing. Your original photo is never touched.
- The RAW conversion does not happen until the very end, when you export or print an image, so you can change your mind about any setting at all times.
- Lightroom offers really, really solid asset management. Even if like me you manage a quarter of a million images, you can rank, rate, search, organize, sort, rename, and a gazillion other things to your hearts content.
- Practicality. A typical shortcut in Lightroom is, let’s say, “D” for “Develop”. Not, as in most apps, “Ctrl-Alt-Shift-D”, or some such hard to remember combination.
- Great editing tools for photographers. True, you cannot move a head from one torso to the next, but I consider those functions “illustrator functions”. For what photographers do it is excellent. Especially if you know “the tricks”.
- It works your way – unlike most apps, where you have to work the app’s way.
- Everything you do can be undone, or redone differently, so you never have to be afraid that you are setting things up incorrectly, for instance. You can always re-do it a different way.
- Lightroom is an excellent production tool. Exporting, printing (straight from Lightroom to your paper profile; not via some intermediate file), making web sites: it’s all included, and it has the functions you need.
By now, with Lightroom 6, it is mature and works the way it should.
But you do need to learn it. And like with so much software, it’s the little “A-ha” things; the tips and tricks; the “I had no idea this worked that way” things that makes you a star.
Well, good news. I am teaching Lightroom on 26 February and March 4. In Brantford, Ontario (just 20 minutes west of Hamilton). Morning on both days is “File organization”; afternoon is “Editing”. So you can take one or two, on either day. Limited to four students each time (plus myself =5).
You can book on meetup.com at https://www.meetup.com/Brantford-Photography-School/ (get a free account, join the group, and book); or you can contact me separately and book in person. But do it soon: as said, space is limited.
Also, stay tuned for other courses in Brantford and in Toronto in the next few months. Unshackle yourself and unleash your creativity!