Cataloging Photos with Adobe Lightroom

I’ve been reviewing old photos and came across several that I had dismissed initially but are actually some of my favorites in their own series.  Amazingly enough this happens quite often, which is exactly why I never delete photos, always back them up, and continually review old ones.  You never know what surprises you’re going to find.  I catalog my photos to keep them organized and filtered.  I use Lightroom for this purpose and I find that it works wonders.  You have to keep up on it, but with the help of a regular routine you’ll be thanking yourself later. 
As soon as I am able to sit down with my computer and CF card after a shoot, I plug in my card reader and start downloading images.  Ideally, I am near my external hard drive and can do a back up then and there and forget about it.  No matter when I get to it I will back up my photos.  Backing up your photos may be the most important step, so don’t forget it!  I can do this automatically with Adobe Lightroom and kill two birds with one stone on one download.  I’ve preset mine so that all I have to do is plug in my external hard drive and press OK and it’ll automatically back up to my selected hard drive.  If it’s not plugged into my computer Lightroom will remind me.  After I get all my photos into Lightroom and backed up on external hard drives, I start to go through and weed out the good from the bad.  I use a ‘flag’ for the ones that draw an initial reaction and I know are good, and a rejection flag for any overexposures or out of focus photos I know I don’t want to keep.  Then, I go through the flagged photos and narrow it down even further to the best of the best with a rating of five stars.  I can filter the photos so that only the flagged photos are showing and develop from there, eventually focusing on the five star images.
When I am satisfied with my selection of “good” photos I start to play around in the digital darkroom.  Does the photo tell a better story in black and white?  Will it look better cropped?  What can I change to express my vision?  Aside from correcting exposure, color correcting and removing dust spots I don’t like to “correct” too much unless I’m trying to achieve a certain look.  The point is to try and capture it in-camera as best you can.  Photoshop, Lightroom or iPhoto will only take you so far.  Getting an image right in-camera is the best practice and will improve anyone’s photography.  I try to take that to heart.
Last but not least, I go through my images regularly.  If I missed a back up I get it done as soon as I can. If I haven’t gone through and edited dust spots, I’ll do it.  Most importantly, I’ll look with a fresh set of eyes at all the captures and if there is a photo I think should be flagged or even starred that isn’t I’ll do it then.  It’s amazing what a fresh set of eyes can see.  I often find photos that were initially overlooked and wonder why I hadn’t flagged them or given them a better status to begin with.  The best practice is to review, review, review!


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