As a photographer and IT consultant, I regularly provide Lightroom support and troubleshooting for fellow photographers. In mentoring other photographers, I have found there are a lot of features in Lightroom that often aren’t being used to their full potential, or photographers aren’t aware of them at all. To help you spend more time outside enjoying the summer and less time sitting at the computer, I’ve compiled this list of three of my favorite tools in Lightroom that can speed up your workflow and make you a more efficient photographer.

Smart Previews

You may already know about Smart Previews, but it’s possible you’re not using them to their full potential. Smart Previews have several benefits in Lightroom that can save you time in a few different ways.

  • If you have a laptop and store images on an external hard drive or network drive, you can use Smart Previews to edit on your laptop, even when you aren’t connected to your original images.
  • Sync images to the Adobe Cloud from Lightroom Classic to work remotely from a web browser, an iPad, a Chromebook, or even a smart phone. The mobile sync in Lightroom Classic syncs Smart Previews of your images to the Adobe Cloud, which take up very little space compared to original RAW images.
  • Speed up your desktop editing by using Smart Previews in the Lightroom Develop module, even when the original RAW files are available. To enable this option, open your Lightroom Preferences, and go to the Performance tab. Check the box labeled “Use Smart Previews instead of Originals for image editing.”

Export Presets

Most Lightroom users are well-aware of the time saving benefits of Develop Presets to speed up their workflow and provide consistency in their edits. However, not everyone is aware that Lightroom has other types of presets that can be used to save groups of settings to maximize efficiency and consistency in other parts of the editing workflow.

Exporting is one the aspects of the Lightroom where I routinely use presets. To ensure I have all the right settings for each export, I have saved several different export presets with various settings for print and online uses. I created export presets for Facebook, Instagram, full-resolution client galleries, proofing galleries for corporate headshots, and web-sized images for various other blogs, forums, and sites where I post my images.

Export presets allow you to specify all the important settings about how your images should be saved, including:

  • Export location (Where should the exported images be saved?)
  • File Naming (Should the files be renamed with custom text, sequence numbers, date/time stamps?)
  • File Settings (Select options like file type, color space, and JPG compression levels.)
  • Image Sizing (Specify the pixel size or physical dimensions for the exported image.)
  • Output Sharpening (Sharpen for screen or print, and how much?)
  • Metadata (How much EXIF data do you want to include with the files?)
  • Watermarking (Add proofing or social media watermarks if desired.)
  • Post-processing (What should Lightroom do after export?)

Metadata Filters

The previous tips were about editing and exporting images faster and more consistently, but one of my favorite aspects of Lightroom are the organizational tools available. Metadata Filters are a powerful tool with many uses for selecting and evaluating your photography. I use this feature regularly to help me quickly locate and select images to submit to art shows, share online, or export for print. Here are some of the types of things you can easily filter for using the various criteria available:

  • Black and white images taken with a macro lens
  • 5- star images from a certain time period or with a specific keyword
  • Landscape-oriented images with a signed model release for a blog post
    (Note: I use a color label in Lightroom to designate images with model releases.)

The Metadata Filters are also useful for learning more about your own photography, because the filter tool can display image counts next to each data point. Having this information available can be a huge benefit. For example:

  • Do you shoot more landscape or portrait-oriented images?
  • What lenses do you use the most?
  • What focal lengths do you use the most?
  • What apertures do you use the most with a specific camera/lens combination?

When purchasing a new camera or equipment, it can be helpful to see objective details about your shooting style to quickly assess your needs. Do you need a lens with a wider aperture or a longer zoom? Do you need a camera that can handle high ISOs better? It can also help you determine if you have equipment you’re not using and could sell. How many images have you actually taken with that lens that’s sitting on your shelf and not in your camera bag? It may not be as many as you think.