I've spent thousands of hours editing photographs in Lightroom. I loathe wasting time and stressing out about editing so I spend a decent amount of time trying to figure out how to optimize my time while simultaneously increasing the quality of my photos. There are 3 tools that I use every time I edit my photographs in Lightroom. These tools help me reduce stress, streamline my process and increase my confidence during editing.
1. Navigator Window. Several years ago I did a "100 day self portrait project". I would shoot and edit everyday then post a self portrait on Instagram. I'd be editing in Photoshop for hours a day. Since I was only posting these photos to Instagram I started thinking "I should probably view my photos like my audience views them". I was realizing that folks weren't seeing my images "full screen" in the manner that I was editing them. I fixed this my simply "zooming out" every so often. This allowed me to see a "thumbnail" of my edited image and simulated how my audience would view my photo on Instagram. This helped me make more calculated editing decisions but it was kind of annoying to have to zoom out and then back in every so often. When I started editing in Lightroom I noticed that I had access to this "thumbnail view" all the time. This is the navigator window. This window gives you a live view of editing changes as well as a preview to any "hover over" edits (i.e. presets, white balance, etc.)
2.Before & Undo Shortcut. Like many folks I need routine validation and affirmation in my life. I need this while editing in Lightroom too. When editing a photo I want to be able to quickly check to see if my editing decision, preset choice, white balance setting, etc. was good one. Sometimes we're changing things and moving sliders so much that we start to second guess our editing choices..especially if you've been editing for a while. I use the "before" shortcut a lot. This shortcut is used by simply hitting the backslash key \ . This key is probably somewhere near the "delete" key on your keyboard. When you use this shortcut it will give a preview of what your photo looked like before you began editing it. I tap this every time I make a big change. For smaller changes I use the "undo" shortcut. The "undo" shortcut is "CMD/CTRL Z". I use this if I'm doing small tweaks like tones, curves, blacks, whites, etc. Since I'm a little bit OCD I go back and forth until I find that sweet spot in each slider. The "undo" shortcut allows me to simply go back one step so I can compare it to the latter editing decision. *tip: the "redo" shortcut is "SHIFT + CMD/CTRL Z". If I notice that my editing decision was one that I want to keep then I'll use this shortcut.
3. Zoom. Let's face it. Our eyes get tired, they deteriorate and we visually miss some important details in our photos sometimes. The "zoom" tool helps me with this during my editing. Many times I need to be "closer" to certain elements of my photos. One example is when I'm editing my wide shots with a human subject. My wide shots tend to be dramatic and full of potentially distracting elements. To help my eyes and brain focus in on making sure that my subject (faces) is well lit and edited exactly how I want to, I will zoom in on the face and edit the photo from there. This ensures that I'm not editing just the scene but my subject FIRST, THEN the wider, less important part of my photo. To zoom in on a photo all you have to do is use the shortcut CMD/CTRL + or simply click when you see the magnifying glass with a + on it.
If you're not the reading type then you can listen and watch me demonstrate these 3 tools in this video I made.
Please leave any questions, comments or feedback below. I'd love to hear from you!
I have taught hundreds of young people up to this point in my life. Many of them proclaim early on that they want to be a "photographer". The most common type is a "National Geographic" photographer. This one sits along side many other rare jobs that the young, zealous heart can't help but dream about. There's nothing wrong with this, in fact, I encourage this sort of loftiness when stating long-term goals and what you eventually aspire to be. Here's a few quick facts and tips to help you on your way to stardom.
FACT #1 Did you know that in 2012 the median pay for a photographer was $13.70 per hour!
*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Photographers, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and communication/photographers.htm (visited August 20, 2014).
TIP #1 Don't think about the money.
Starting out it's important to focus on getting better and shooting. I know it's tempting to spend hours on your "portfolio" website and making it look like your a "pro" when you're not (I did this by the way), but when it comes down to it your struggles and process of "becoming is what shows others your level of professionalism and why they should you money for a photo shoot over the next "average Joe" photographer.
TIP #2 Your photos better get people's attention. Make and post original, consistent photos that make people think. Be original, simple and surprising! During my graduate program I had an instructor in one of my photography classes say "the world doesn't need more photographers , it needs more people who pay attention".
FACT #3 Lots of people hate their job and it shows through their work. Even though I am not following the "rule", I am the source here. I have been around 100's and 100's of miserable people over the past 12 years and they suck at what they do. If you still need a source, here you go.
TIP #3 Don't be a photographer if you wouldn't do it for free. I am convinced that one of the keys to life is simply doing what you love without money being a factor.
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Stay hungry and keep shooting guys.