Regularly people ask me about my Lightroom workflow, and a lot of searches are done on my website in order to find information about this. So that's why I decided to answer the questions in a blog post.
Before you can develop a standardized workflow, you need to know what your style is. If you hop from one style to another and back, it's hard to determine what your workflow should be. It will grow with time.
If you are an amateur photographer, time is often not of the essence. If you are a professional photographer, then you want to optimize your processing workflow to be as short as possible in order to maximize your profit. In order to optimize your workflow, you will have to build in some standards. It's part of any optimization. It means that you have to have your style that you will respect, no matter what.
For most photographers, it takes a long time to have their own, stable style that they like and are comfortable with. I have a cinematographic style. I rarely work with long lenses. Mostly I work with primes, more specifically 24mm, 35mm and 50mm. I also need to have people in my scenes. Those two things combined means I'm often right on top of my subjects, and it will be no surprise that my specialties are theatre, performing arts, children, families... anything that has people in it.
Depending on the style of the theatre play, I have a few processing styles that I will always start from. And that's where building efficiency in Lightroom comes in. A play may require hard contrast and faded colour, or maybe bright colours and dard backgrounds. For every different play I shoot, I make a style and save it in a Lightroom preset for later use. I will process one representative image from the whole series, make sure it's the way I want it to be, and then I apply it to all shots in the series. Then all you need to do is tweak each individual shot, and that's it.
Just as important as creating presets that you use during processing, you should create a preset that does all the things that you do to all of your pictures. In my case for instance, I always use auto tone, I crank up clarity and apply standard contrast. You can create a preset that does all of these things and save it as a preset to use during import. Then, when you import your pictures, it applies everything you have saved in that preset. It's a big time saver
The benefit of applying a preset to all images of a shoot will make sure the style is consistent throughout the whole series. I used to apply colour to some, black-and-white to others and sometimes even something else for some. Looking back, I realize it's not a good thing to do. My photo series are often used to create the booklet for the play, and a consistent style is much more appealing than different and mixed styles. And... it takes less work in the end.
Sometimes it takes a while to find the perfect look, but once you have it, you better make sure you save it in a preset. It will save you tons of time later on. That's the main message.
To end the Lightroom step, here's a great tip to get you started: go back to the images you have processed, take the ones that are representative for your style and save those settings as a preset. It will already save you a lot of work when you are processing your next shoot.
As a photographer, I am constantly searching for ways to shorten my Lightroom workflow. If you have questions, or you want to achieve some kind of look for your pictures and you don't know how, then drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, or send me a message on Facebook and I'll see if I can help you.
Never hesitate to ask a fellow photographer for insight in his or her work. Most of them will be happy to answer your questions. I ask others for advice or insight on a regular basis. It will give you new angles on existing situations. There's always someone who can help you make your workflow more efficient, no matter how experienced you may be.
Finally, you will find some examples below of theatre plays I have photographed that each have their own style that I can instantly replicate by having them saved in Lightroom presets.
Any questions or remarks? Drop me a line, and who knows, maybe it'll spark some interesting conversations.