At this years Photoshop World in Washington DC, I presented Concert Photography: From Capture to Client and mentioned that part of my processing workflow had changed since the release of Lightroom 4. These changes were not in the workbook since the workbook was produced before Lightroom 4 was released. So here is a blog post that covers the entire post production workflow including how and why I set up the folders and the steps I take when editing my images.

The first thing that you need to know is that I usually work on really tight deadlines and try to spend as little time as humanly possible in front of the computer. Here is the overview of my workflow.

The first step is to set up the folders on my hard drive where the images will be in stored. Now, I keep all my images sorted by the shoot name and the date. Since most of my shoots are concerts, I name everything by the artist and the date. For example, when shooting Jackie Greene at the Belly Up Tavern on March 3rd, the files will be stored in the JackieGreene_332012 folder. After I create the main folder, I create three sub folders, Raw Files, Picks, and Lightroom. When I import the images, they go into the Raw sub folder.

The folder Structure looks like this:

Macbook Pro > Pictures > Artist_Date >

  • Raw Files
  • Picks
  • Lightroom

I use Photo Mechanic to “Ingest” the images from the memory card to the Raw sub folder and add IPTC data using the Photo Mechanic IPTC Stationary Pad on ingest.

I then do a sort in Photo Mechanic to get rid of the really bad shots, those that are out of focus, and the ones that just look boring. If I shot a lot of sequences, I will use this sort to just pick the best 1 or 2 from the sequence. The idea here is to make the work in Lightroom quicker by reducing the number of images that I have to deal with.

In Photo Mechanic I do the following:

  • Double click on the first image in the contact sheet to open the preview window
  • Press F for full view
  • Left and right arrows scroll through images
  • Select keepers by pressing the #1 key
  • Close Preview
  • Change sort to Color Class which groups the keepers together
  • Select the keepers and click File> Copy/Move photos
  • Choose the Picks sub folder inside the Artist_Date folder
  • Copy the images so that the Raw Folder still contains all the images, and the Picks Folder contains copies of the keepers

Now it is time for Lightroom. The first thing is to set up Lightroom so that when it opens, it asked you to pick a catalog or create a new catalog.  In the preferences, just make sure that the Default Catalog is set to: Prompt me when starting Lightroom

Now when Lightoom launches, you will be prompted to create a new catalog or open an existing catalog. I create a new catalog in the Lightroom  sub folder of the Artist_Date folder and name it the same as the Artist_Date. I now import the images that are in the Picks sub folder. This leaves me with the images that I want to sort / edit in Lightroom, in their own catalog.

Now I take a little longer and go through these images to get the ones that will make the final cut. The number of images selected depends on the client. It could be as many as a hundred or more for archival purposes when shooting for a venue or as few as 4 or 5 of the best. I create a collection with these images and edit them, then I can make the final decision on which images make it to the client.

I select the first image and in the develop module I adjust the sharpening and noise reduction. These can be changed later depending on the actual image, but these seem to be good starting points for me.

I then enable Lens correction and add a -25 Post-Crop vignette in the effect panel. Then without leaving the first image, I click Edit>Select All then click Sync so that all these images have the previous settings applied to them. You can also create a preset with these settings so that you can apply them to any image or set of images with a click. Now the real editing begins.

Here is the order that I edit my images in

Which as you can see is opposite to the order that the tools are listed in Lightroom. I find that if I start with Clarity, it will determine how the rest of the editing will go. I push the Clarity slider to 100 and then start to back off until it has the look I like, then I work my way through the blacks, whites, shadows, highlights, exposure and contrast. Then I crop the image if needed.

So there it is… that’s my Lightroom workflow. I’ll add the Photoshop and Nik steps in a later post.