I could easily list more than seven reasons to use Lightroom. Every photo ever taken needs some level of developing. With film photography photos are developed in the dark room. For digital photography that process has shifted to the computer and the best processing system around is Lightroom.
It’s not the only way to develop digital photos, but Lightroom certainly is the most popular, and in my opinion, the best.
But before I get into why I use Lightroom in my photography workflow, here are some answers to frequently asked Lightroom questions.
Why do people use Lightroom?
Lightroom is more than a photo editing program, it’s also a powerful photo management system. These two essential elements of digital photography, plus the non-destructive nature of Lightroom editing (more on that in a moment) make Lightroom the most popular choice with photographers.
Do I really need Lightroom?
No, you don’t necessarily need Lightroom. There are many other systems for editing photos, some of which are free. However, if you have the budget for it, I do think that Lightroom is the best option.
Is Lightroom good for beginners?
It’s perfect for all levels of photography, starting with beginners. Lightroom is especially essential if you shoot in RAW, a far better file format to use than JPEG, as more detail is captured. RAW photos need to be processed, which means you have to learn how to use one of the software options available.
If you don’t have any editing software, don’t shoot in RAW. You need some sort of processing software to view RAW photos.
Further reading: Shooting RAW vs JPEG image quality pros and cons
Do professional photographers use Lightroom?
The vast majority of professional photographers use Lightroom Classic. It’s a great way of managing and editing photos and is part of the Adobe Photography Package, which also includes Photoshop and Lightroom CC (for mobile) as part of the subscription.
Is Lightroom difficult to learn?
Although I don’t think Lightroom is difficult to learn, because it can do so much, there’s a lot to learn.
However, you don’t need to know everything to produce good quality photos in Lightroom. You can grow into it and learn the more advanced Lightroom functions after you’re comfortable with the basic editing functions.
7 REASONS WHY I USE LIGHTROOM
1. Photo management
What’s the worst thing that could happen to your photos? You lose them. For good. The second worst thing would be temporarily losing them and wasting a huge amount of time searching for them.
a) Storing photos with Lightroom
It’s not a pleasant feeling when you think you that your work and your memories have vanished.
Of all my possessions, my photos are the most precious. I’d be devastated if I lost photos of my mom who passed away nearly 5 years ago. So, for me, having a well organized photo filing system with quick and easy backup facilities is absolutely essential.
Four years ago I experienced just how devastated I would be. I thought I’d lost the photos of our last family holiday together. I hadn’t. It was before I developed a rock solid system with double backups…and it’s exactly why I took the time to make sure I never went through that stress again.
Further reading: The best way to organize photos, starting with file naming
b) Finding photos in Lightroom
Drama aside, searching for photos is a waste of time and who has time to waste?
So, I love Lightroom’s easy search tools – keywords and filters. Within seconds and just a couple of clicks I can find any photo from any shoot within a Lightroom catalog.
Good folder hierarchy also makes finding photos the traditional way super easy. Then there’s collections. Lightroom collections are magic for gathering and working on photos from different shoots in one place.
With this level of photo filing geekiness I feel I should have a pocket protector or something.
You’d think I love spending time on the computer, but I don’t. I really don’t. I’d much rather be out there with my camera.
2. Spend less time at the computer
Speedy processing is my goal. I want finely edited images with colors that pop and beautiful skin tones. I want to:
- remove distractions from the background (those bright exit signs and no smoking signs all over wedding venues used to drive me nuts)
- disappear blemishes from teen faces, scrapes and bruises from little Johnny’s shins
- maybe soften laughter lines on older faces
Sometimes I want to turn an ordinary scene into the end of the perfect summer day, with golden hues, sun flares and the scent of freshly cut grass.
But I don’t want to spend hours doing it while I miss out on the potential of today’s light.
So my Lightroom workflow is driven by:
- quickly selecting the keepers from a shoot
- batch processing hundreds of photos
- fine-tuning with presets I’ve developed for different light, subjects and scene
- then exporting with presets for different online and print uses.
Plus my trusty catalog and photo backups ensure that I don’t ever have to redo any work I’ve already done.
Further reading: Why buying Lightroom presets is a waste of money
3. No photos were harmed in the process of this edit
The massive, massive advantage of Lightroom is that the catalog of edits is separate from the actual photos. In Lightroom, unlike Photoshop, you never actually alter the photos themselves – it’s non-destructive editing.
So, on the days that I get the editing bug and go a little nuts, maybe a little too far on the editing, it’s fine. Lightroom records the editing history so I can easily go back to any point in the edit and start over. Or I could just hit reset and start from scratch again.
Speaking of which, have you ever gone too far on an edit? We all do it at some point.
That’s where Lightroom’s before and after feature saves me from myself. With one quick click I can flick back to before I started editing. Then click again to see the image after all my editing wizardry/madness. It keeps me in check, because I can see just how far I’ve taken the image. Sometimes it’s just too far.
If I get a bee in my bonnet and want to try different editing styles on an image, or even just a different crop. No problem.
I create a virtual copy, make the alternative adjustment/s, and just like that I can compare versions. Then I delete the version I don’t want. Or keep it. Virtual copies don’t weigh down the system, because it’s a virtual copy (clue is in the name), so it’s tiny in memory.
I’m sure no explanation is required, but…before on the left and after on the right.
I’m human, so I mess up sometimes.
Because I shoot in RAW and process in Lightroom, when I mess up my exposure, I can recover blown out highlights or blocked shadows. Or if the scene’s dynamic range is at the edge of my camera’s abilities.
Obviously, if my brain has a meltdown and I completely overexpose or underexpose a photo, it’s not worth trying to rescue it. Lightroom is amazing, but it’s not a miracle worker. Well, maybe mini-miracles.
4. Lightroom as a quality protection tool on social media
Have you ever felt the need to explain that Facebook messed up your photo and that it actually looks a lot better than the version you posted?
Social media platforms crunch the photos we post if they are too large in memory. After all that time spent capturing images and lovingly editing them, it’s heartbreaking (am I being dramatic?) to see their quality reduced by social media.
Lightroom to the rescue!
I’ve created export presets to size my photos perfectly for the different social media platforms. So the quality is much better than if I’d left it to Facebook to condense them.
Plus, like any preset, export presets speed up my workflow, because I don’t have to re-enter the settings every time I export a photo.
Further reading: Lightroom export settings for web and print
5. Use Lightroom for professional looking photos
You have a choice. Which would you rather have?
- JPEG photos with missing data processed roughly by your camera
- Unprocessed, dull RAW photos
- Well balanced tones, popping colors, sharp, professional looking photos
Above is the RAW photo straight out of camera. I adjusted white and blacks, added contrast, brought out the warmer tones in the image. Then I removed blemishes on the model and the wooden shed at the left edge of frame. I used the brush tool to even out shadows on her face, increased saturation on her hair, softened her skin, sharpened and exported.
We know that Lightroom helps to create professional looking photos, but there’s another side to using Lightroom that you might not know about…
6. Make money from photography with Lightroom
Did you know that, if you’re a professional photographer, Lightroom can help you make money too? Actually, you don’t need to be a professional – any photographer can do it.
Here’s two ways Lightroom can help you make money from photography:
a) Sell your photos online in Adobe Stock
You can publish directly to Adobe Stock from within Lightroom, complete with keywords already embedded. Once you’ve set up your Adobe Stock account of course. Another time saver.
b) In person sales
As a portrait photographer, Lightroom has been an integral part of my in person sales process for the last 13 years. Clients are always impressed by it and the system I’ve developed helps them select photos for their walls and albums with minimal fuss and stress.
I can’t imagine running a photography business without Lightroom.
Besides, for just $10 a month the photography plan gets you Lightroom Classic, Lightroom CC (for mobile) and Photoshop. What more could you possibly want?
7. More time for photography
No explanation needed.
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By Jane Allan
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