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Quick Lightroom Culling

Colorado wedding photographer, Laura Gravelle, is considered a top Denver wedding photographer for Colorado weddings such as Estes Park, Vail, Aspen, Colorado Springs, Keystone, Beaver Creek and all destination weddings. You can contact Laura for all Colorado weddings, to be your Denver wedding photographer, and for destination weddings by emailing laura@lauragravelle.com. Please look around to see why brides planning Colorado weddings choose Laura Gravelle as their Colorado wedding photographer and Denver wedding photographer.
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Are you a wedding or portrait photographer spending way too many hours in front of your computer? So many of us fall prey to the endless editing cycle. I’ve found myself thinking over and over, there has to be a better system for post-processing weddings and client portrait sessions. With two young children, there is no way for me to spend 10-15 hours editing a wedding or client sessions. I know photographers who edit a wedding in 2-3 hours. So how is that done? I was determined to figure out a way. While I am always learning new techniques and tips, I want to share some methods for quick culling – otherwise known as the process of choosing which photos to keep and which ones to toss.

In the past, I would hit delete (plus confirm the delete) each time I had a photo that was not a keeper. This took so long! Think about doing this for 1000+ wedding photos. If you don’t have Lightroom, get it! I use this software for almost all of my culling and editing and have found it to be fantastic. Then I went photo by photo and edited each one in color or black and white. Never again!

To start, here is a screen shot of a wedding I have been working on in Lightroom. I have already culled this wedding, but just for the sake of the demonstration, I’ll choose a few photos to delete. Once I have opened up my wedding in Lightroom, I assume my position for culling – right hand finger on the right arrow button and left hand finger on the “X” key. When I see a photo that is not tack sharp, is a duplicate, the subject blinked, etc, I hit the “X” key. This flags the photo as a reject and it becomes faded in my scrolling photo bar. I continue this action until I have gotten to the end of the wedding.

(PS) Don’t judge my handwriting from this photo! It is very hard to write with a computer mouse!
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At this point, I turn on the library filters (under the File menu) and choose rejected photos only. Lightroom filters out all of the photos that are flagged as rejected. I select all of them, hit delete, confirm the delete, and wallah, that part is done! Quick as that!

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There is one final step for my Lightroom culling. It is time to choose which photos will remain in color, black and white , and sepia tones. For this process, I give the photos a star rating just by using the numerical keys – 1 for color, 2 for black and white, and 3 for sepia tones.

I go back to the beginning of the wedding for one more pass. My right hand finger is on the right arrow button and my left hand finger is hitting 1, 2, or 3. I can turn the Library Filters back on, choose a number rating, and see my different categories for editing.

This process for Lightroom culling has saved me loads of time. Hopefully other wedding photographers can find this helpful as well!

Now I am ready to edit, but I will save that for another blog post :)

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For brides planning Colorado weddings, please contact me to be your Colorado wedding photographer by emailing laura@lauragravelle.com. I am a Denver wedding photographer and for destination weddings in the mountains like Estes Park, Beaver Creek, Aspen, Vail, Keystone and Colorado Springs.

Lauren Schmidt via Facebook - July 7, 2011 - 2:54 pm

Love that trick, Laura. It has saved me hours in Lightroom. Also, learn your LR keyboard shortcuts. “G” for grid to take you to your library grid. Then, if you hold down shift key and arrow through a couple in a series, you can hit “N” to see a series preview. So, say you have 3 or 4 that are nearly identical but you want to see them all side by side to pick the best or reject the bad ones, you can do that quickly. I can cull a wedding in less than 20 minutes, if I am not being hounded by babies. :D

Seriously, the “N” preview thing was a life-saver for me. Most of the keyboard shortcuts are fabulous. Have fun!

Nicole Siembor via Facebook - July 7, 2011 - 3:05 pm

i love lightroom so far. thanks for the tip!

Frankye Nobles via Facebook - July 7, 2011 - 3:11 pm

Thanks so much for the information! I was curious, do you shoot JPEG or RAW? What are your files when they go into LR? and one more :) When you change a file to b&w or sepia, does it save the original file as well. Sorry for the questions, but that’s how you learn!

Laura Gravelle Photography via Facebook - July 7, 2011 - 3:38 pm

I almost always shoot RAW. I import them into Lightroom as RAW files and export them as high quality JPEGS. When you alter a photo in Lightroom, the original is unharmed. I keep separate folders on my external hard drive of the original RAW files and of the exported, edited JPEGS. Feel free to ask as many questions as you want!

Julie Barber Neill - August 28, 2012 - 11:26 pm

Thanks for the tips! I will try this out right now :)

Stephanie Baker - January 9, 2013 - 3:50 am

OMG I had no idea about the filters and star rating! DEF going to save me time!

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