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What do you wish you knew when you were getting started with Lightroom?

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I'm working on the getting started information for beginners, and perhaps you can help me... it's a little while since I was a beginner!

Stretch your mind way back... when you first got your hands on Lightroom, what did you want to know?

For example, did you need to know how to import existing photos or just new ones? Were you worried about renaming at that stage? What about adding metadata?

And then what did you want to do when you first got your photos into Lightroom? Were you interested in rating the photos, or did you go straight to Develop and play with them?

Did you bother to play with slideshows and prints to start with? Did you try to export?

If you could roll back time and give yourself some tips, what would you tell yourself? What do you wish you knew?

Thanks!
 
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Victoria the Library module was the biggest one to get my head around together with the import dialog.
The biggest changes to my workflow, as time has gone by, and subsequently the biggest headaches to fix retrospectively, are in these areas.
I sure wish that I had known how to manipulate the import dialog to my advantage in the beginning.
Overall I feel that the digital asset management capabilities of Lightroom are the most underappreciated aspects initially and also of the most difficult to fix retrospectively once the importance of digital asset management is grasped and the abilities of Lightroom in this area are recognized.
The great power and strength of Lightroom, as an application, is also its Achilles heel, since the numerous alternatives at each step of the workflow magnifies into a workflow of almost infinite variation. To the beginner, a few (2-3) alternative workflows guiding one through importing images, keywording, and metadata capture with special emphasis on how to use presets to automate the process where relevent would be hugely helpful.
Because the whole issue of digital asset management is usually so under-appreciated by most beginners strongly emphasizing the cogent benefits of the early part of any workflow (early on the Develop module was my darling - the rest was just fill) would hopefully mitigate the pain associated with retrospectively trying to rename image files, update metadata, and keyword gazillions of image files years later.

I appreciate that my thoughts, as expressed above, may be difficult to translate into a workable beginners package (whole books are written on this subject matter), but the potential benefits would be massive should it be accomplished.

My $0.02 worth

Tony Jay
 

Allan Olesen

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I actually think that a lot of new users would like to circumvent the DAM features of Lightroom because they feel they are more of an obstruction to their workflow than a help. They also often think that they have to surrender to the Lightroom directory structure instead of using the structure they have already been using for years and find natural. The need to import is the number one reason I see when someone ditches Lightroom after trying it for a short period.

So I think it would be a good idea with a guide showing to how to get easiest possible through the import steps and start working, without Lightroom moving or renaming any files or directories. Something which makes it possible to say:
"Yes, you have to import first in Lightroom, but if you do it according to this guide, you can keep the directory structure you are used to. The import will only be two additional mouse clicks and then you can start working and pretend that you never did an import."

Given time, those users will probably learn to love the DAM features like the rest of us. But there is no need to rush that.

I can relate this to my own experience. My own background before Lightroom was Raw Shooter Essentials, an old freeware raw converter. With this software, I should only double click on a raw file in Windows Explorer, and then the program would start up in something which more or less resembled the Develop module in Lightroom. The photo I had double clicked would be preselected, and all other photos in the same directory would be accessible in a film strip in the same way as in Lightroom (and I think that Auto Sync was enabled as default). So I could jump directly from Windows Explorer into adjusting all photos from a shooting, and then exporting them. Job done.

With Lightroom, I had to start Lightroom first. This is something I don't do with most software since I think it is usually easier to find the data files in Windows Explorer and then start the associated software from the data file (as I did with Raw Shooter Essentials).
Then in Lightroom I had to start an import and navigate through an unnecessarily clumsy file select dialog with bad memory of earlier import locations. At least that is how I remember it - I haven't used the file select dialog for a long time now.
Then I had to make sure that Lightroom would not move the files. I can't remember if Add was the default, but at least I was so suspicious about Lightroom taking control that I remember examining my options very carefully at that step.
And then I was finally able to do an import and start working.
Next frustration came after some days. I had imported different directories at different locations in a directory tree, and now they were visible in the Library as one long, flat list of directories without any hierarchic tree structure visible.

But after messing a bit with Lightroom, I discovered two things which made my life much easier:

1. Use "Show Parent Folder" a few times and be able to see the full directory tree of your photo collection in Library view.
I think anyone with their own folder structure would like to know about this feature very early.

2. You can actually initiate an import from Windows Explorer and skip the file select dialog in Lightroom Import.
If Lightroom has the correct key in the Windows Registry, you can just select the raw files in Windows Explorer and use Open With. (But quite often, this key is missing for some reason.)
Or you can add your own action to the right click menu of Windows Explorer so you can just right click on a directory and select Lightroom Import.
In both cases, Lightroom will start up, go into Import and already be in the correct directory.
After that, you basically only have to press Enter, and you are ready to work.
 

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I suspect that many people pre-Lightroom create their own instinctive (and often very individual) versions of a DAM system. From my own experience I found that a clear understanding of what DAM is and what is used for - together with the fact of having to accept a discipline in using one was very important. To this end, I found the DAM book by Peter Krogh invaluable and although I read it pre-Lightroom, once having deciding to go with Lightroom, it was easy to use my DAM education to quickly come to grips with LR.

So for anyone coming to LR needs some degree of knowledge/instruction on DAM plus the use of databases to hold picture and processing information, so a primer along those lines would help a great deal.

Anthony.
 
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This is great info guys, thanks. Keep it coming!
 
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I started with Lightroom in the Beta days prior to the release of LR 1.x. The tutorial that impressed me the most and which I consider a must view for any new user of Lightroom is available at the following LINK.

http://tv.adobe.com/watch/george-jardine-on-lightroom/the-lightroom-catalog/

A view of this prior to using Lightroom will help most new users (even experienced users of Photoshop CS and Elements or similar programs) avoiding the problems most new users experience when they just download/install and try to edit files.
 
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Just as an observation regarding the need to import and have lightroom move things to folders that IT wants to use... you can merely add (pick Add as opposed to move or copy) them in place where they were in your pre-lightroom approach. With a plugin Like Jeffrie Friedl's JF Folder Watch you can set it up so that all you have to do is drop folders and photos in where you want them and as long as they are inside the top level folder that Lightroom knows about, it will find them and add them in place with whatever organization you want. After they appear you can then keyword them and what not.
 
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I actually think that a lot of new users would like to circumvent the DAM features of Lightroom because they feel they are more of an obstruction to their workflow than a help. They also often think that they have to surrender to the Lightroom directory structure instead of using the structure they have already been using for years and find natural. The need to import is the number one reason I see when someone ditches Lightroom after trying it for a short period.

I think Allen may be making my point rather than contradicting it.

Tony Jay
 
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I think that Anthony's post above hit on a similar note as my introduction to LR. I was using Picture Window Pro for image editing before LR, and was trying to deal with the whole DAM issue :rolleyes: as I did not want to lose my images. I compared LR v.1 with a number of other programs like iView Media Pro (pre-Microsoft), Canto Cumulus and IDimager. To be honest, I found LR to be wanting, as its "logic" was not very logical or intuitive. It took me quite a while to understand Adobe's "logic" for the program, but once I understood and accepted it, things started to come together for me.

There were many bright individuals who worked on LR, and many of them really had a passion for photography as well as software design. But, I think there was also a bit of an "echo chamber" effect, especially when it came time to design the UI and program terminology, and I think that it still hurts the program to date. I understand the need for a learning curve when using a powerful program, but so much of LR is unique to LR, and not common to a broader base of their potential market.

I could go on at length about the UI, but the short answer is that somebody needs to make a compelling case as to why a prospective purchaser should empty their mind, forget most everything they know, and invest the time and energy to learn how LR works. I do not feel that it is a program that sells itself. Using LR reminds me of learning to use a rangefinder after extensively shooting with an SLR. The underlying philosophy of how to use the equipment is very different, and one needs to embrace this difference if they expect to enjoy doing things a bit differently.

I know this does not exactly answer your OP, Victoria, but I felt it necessary to take an additional step backwards to the stage when prospective users are trying to wrap their heads around they "why" as opposed to the "how". I'll try to be more "on task" in any future posts.

Thanks for asking,

--Ken
 

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I moved to Lightroom after struggling a while with Photoshop. I put converted NEFs into folders, but it was a struggle keeping up with them. To me, tagging in Lightroom was a huge advantage. I think the advice to start tagging new imports in comforting; you don't have to tag the ones you already have somewhere.

OTOH, I tagged in a very ad-hoc way, winding up with many too-specific tags and variations of the same tag. Hierarchical tagging was a huge advantage, although that might be too advanced for beginner advice.

Will
 
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I know this does not exactly answer your OP, Victoria, but I felt it necessary to take an additional step backwards to the stage when prospective users are trying to wrap their heads around they "why" as opposed to the "how". I'll try to be more "on task" in any future posts.

I wouldn't be apologetic Ken - I think you make an excellent point.
The philosophical approach Lightroom takes to DAM is very different and to get the most out of Lightroom means taking the time to understand their philosophy.
Posts detailing how individuals are attempting to use a powerdrill (Lightroom) as a hammer (whatever their usual previous approach was) are multiple daily occurences on this forum and others.
A very common problem is individuals trying to use very complicated folder systems to classify their images that involve copying the same image into multiple folders instead of using appropriate keywording and smart collections. Using multiple catalogs to try and achieve the same end is also ultimately self-defeating.
These are just two examples demonstrating an extensive issue.

Tony Jay
 

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I think that Anthony's post above hit on a similar note as my introduction to LR. I was using Picture Window Pro for image editing before LR, and was trying to deal with the whole DAM issue :rolleyes: as I did not want to lose my images. I compared LR v.1 with a number of other programs like iView Media Pro (pre-Microsoft), Canto Cumulus and IDimager.

[..]

--Ken

Ken, I ran with IDImager for a while, but once the original developer sold the program on, I moved away from it. At the heart of IDImager of course, is a SQL database - pretty much along the lines of Lightroom; at least conceptually. And this makes my point about getting the message across to new users that data about the images is held in a database but not the images themselves. Perhaps the LR team should have used a different term other than 'import' for registering images into the database - ummm, 'register (images)' perhaps? :)

Anthony.
 

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Tony, I get a feeling that this was directed at me, but I also think you are misunderstanding my point.

What I am trying to say is that there is no need to force anyone into doing things the Lightroom Way from the beginning (and I don't even know if there is a Lightroom Way since Lightroom supports plenty of different ways to import and store photos). Learn new users to do the import in a way which obstructs their intended workflow as little as possible. Nothing is lost by doing that. The photos are imported anyway, so the catalogue will still be there afterwards. And a custom, personal folder structure does not in any way hinder Lightroom's operation.

At some stage that user will discover that he actually has some benefit from the catalog, and then he will start using it actively.
 
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Perhaps the LR team should have used a different term other than 'import' for registering images into the database - ummm, 'register (images)' perhaps? :)
I fully agree to that. It is in line with what I have been trying to say:
Many people are being scared away from Lightroom because of the import proces, partly because they believe that Lightroom will take control of where the the photos are stored.
 

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HI,

WHITHOUT reading all answers written (so it is my personal view):

Telling LR does keep an INDEX of the pictures, NOT a database.
The flexibility that is a result of that.
Info about previews.
BACKUP BACKUP BACKUP.
More about Smart Collections ....
 
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Telling LR does keep an INDEX of the pictures

Hmmmmm, I like the word index for explaining the database, for those who aren't familiar with databases.
 
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Hmmmmm, I like the word index for explaining the database, for those who aren't familiar with databases.

(Climbs up on soapbox) :rolleyes:

This is a good example of what I was alluding to in my previous post. LR is a database, and it keeps information on each image, so I think that one would be hard pressed to technically call it anything else. But, its primary role is a photo file manipulation program, both in image content and metadata, so it is easy to not think of it as a database program like MS Access or other "traditional" database software. So, how does one describe LR to a person with limited familiarity of photo software that resides on a database engine? The traditional PC paradigm offers a model that allows users to handle their information with software programs that perform their actions on discrete data files (like Word and Excel). Newer, cloud-based web 2.0 programs often keep their data "within" the software program. In light of some exposure to these two common approaches, what is a person with limited experience computer skills supposed to make of LR? While I agree that the term "index" is better than register, how LR handles files is not an easy concept to describe. I am sure there is a good analogy out there, but it is not coming to mind just yet. I would have thought that Adobe would have considered this a marketing challenge to selling LR, but that's just my opinion.

(Climbs down from soapbox) :tape:

--Ken
 
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I am sure there is a good analogy out there, but it is not coming to mind just yet.

A catalog of books in a library is the best I've come up with. If anyone can come up with a better one, I'd love to hear it.
 

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That would be a lie. It keeps a database which is created using the database tool SQLite.

LR does NOT keep a database of pictures, but of many other things RELATED to the pictures.
I know hat now, but it was at least a bit confusing in the beginning, that is why I mentioned the INDEX. A fairly complicated index, but that is the real strength of LR in my opinion and that is why I also mentioned "BACKUP BACKUP BACKUP".
 

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A catalog of books in a library is the best I've come up with. If anyone can come up with a better one, I'd love to hear it.

Catalog of books is good. LR keeps a document of each book with info where it is, your remarks, how far you've read it, where you bought it and so on. Never place the book on another shelf without boss LR knowing about it or you will loose your document <-> book connection.
 

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(Climbs up on soapbox) :rolleyes:

This is a good example of what I was alluding to in my previous post. LR is a database, and it keeps information on each image, so I think that one would be hard pressed to technically call it anything else. But, its primary role is a photo file manipulation program, both in image content and metadata, so it is easy to not think of it as a database program like MS Access or other "traditional" database software. So, how does one describe LR to a person with limited familiarity of photo software that resides on a database engine? The traditional PC paradigm offers a model that allows users to handle their information with software programs that perform their actions on discrete data files (like Word and Excel). Newer, cloud-based web 2.0 programs often keep their data "within" the software program. In light of some exposure to these two common approaches, what is a person with limited experience computer skills supposed to make of LR? While I agree that the term "index" is better than register, how LR handles files is not an easy concept to describe. I am sure there is a good analogy out there, but it is not coming to mind just yet. I would have thought that Adobe would have considered this a marketing challenge to selling LR, but that's just my opinion.

(Climbs down from soapbox) :tape:

--Ken

I know a little bit (more) about databases. But with LR I am a photographer, NOT a IT specilist, so I want to know how to treat LR and what I can or must not do. Starting with LR (and I thing that was what "The Queen" asked, I made a little map in my head and it works. That is the "indexes-idea".
 

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LR does NOT keep a database of pictures, but of many other things RELATED to the pictures.
I understand what you are trying to say, and I agree that it is important to tell people that Lightroom does not take possession of your pictures.

But you are saying it the wrong way. LR does keep a database of pictures.

You seem to think that "a database of pictures" implies that the pictures have to be stored inside the database. That is not correct. There are plenty of examples of databases of X, where X is not stored in the database. In fact that is probably the most common use of databases. For example a database of persons.
 

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I like the term Catalogue... Noting of course, that this is what LR calls it as well. But (being a DBA by profession) both terms are good. Lightroom keeps track of all your photos, where they are, and what you've done with them (at least, what you've done with them in LR). As an aside, what trips up many new LR users, is that you have to back up BOTH the catabase (new word hehe) AND the pictures that it is tracking.

Worth remembering, you don't HAVE to use LightRoom's idea of a folder structure. You can stick them where ever you want, and merely add them (via import), although most of us have LR copy them from our memory cards to a structure based on one of LR's templates.
 
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