Much has been written about using Lightroom to develop landscape photos, and realistically many Capture Landscape readers, as advanced landscape photographers, are just as likely to use Photoshop or plugins like Luminar to develop their photos as Lightroom.
But, regardless of what software you use to develop your photos, there is still lots you can do with Lightroom, which is probably the most powerful organizational tool available to photographers.
If you subscribe to one of Adobe’s photography plans in order to use the latest version of Photoshop, then you might as well put Lightroom, which comes with it, to use.
Convinced? Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can use Lightroom to organize your landscape photos.
1. Use Lightroom to backup your photos
When you import your photos into Lightroom it gives you the option to make a copy to an alternative location. That means you can make a backup copy of your photos at the same time you import them. This is useful if you are the sort of person who takes a while to get around to making backups, or if you need to format your memory card to use for another shoot.
All you need to do to make a backup is tick the Make a Second Copy To box in the File Handling panel in Lightroom’s Import window and select the folder where you would like Lightroom to save them.
If you convert your Raw files to DNG when you import them you need to know that the backups will be saved in your camera’s proprietary Raw format, not DNG. This may have implications if you ever need to use your backed up photos, as Lightroom will be looking for Raw files rather than DNGs.
2. Use Lightroom to rename photos
Do you sell photos for stock or undertake assignment work for clients? In that case, you need to rename your photo files (also known as deliverables in the commercial world) before you pass them to your client.
If you upload your photos to stock libraries then you should follow the website’s naming guidelines, if they have them. This is essential if you don’t want your photos to be rejected.
If you are creating photos for commercial clients then it looks a lot more professional to send them photos with filenames like this:
Than what comes out of your camera:
With numbers in the sequence missed out because you don’t send every photo to your client.
It also makes your life easier if your client comes back to you to ask for changes, or gets in touch in a couple of years to ask to renew a license. Using a naming system that gives each file a unique name makes it much easier to find the right photo.
The easiest way to carry out both renaming tasks is to do it when you export your photos. Tick the Rename To box in the File Naming options, and pick an option from the menu. Select Edit to create a custom file naming template.
3. Use Lightroom to add keywords
Lightroom is an excellent keywording tool that lets you add keyword tags to photos either when you import them or later in your workflow. It gives you keyword sets and other tools to help you use a controlled vocabulary and keep your keywording system organized and under control.
There are two main reasons for using keywords.
1. To enable you to search your photos. These keywords are for your own use and as long as you set up a system that works for you and helps you find your photos quickly then that’s all you need.
2. To enable other people to search your photos. The most likely reason for this is that you submit your photos to a stock library, although it also applies if you upload your photos to websites like Flickr and 500px (Instagram uses hashtags rather than keywords). The considerations are different because you need to take into account that other people are using keywords to find your photos. Lightroom can help you with this too.
You can apply keywords using the Keywording and Keyword List panels in the Library module.
4. Use Collections to organize photos
When you import photos into Lightroom from your memory card you have no choice but to save them in a folder on a hard drive. Folders are useful because they help you organize your photos, but they are limited.
Let’s say you joined Christian on one of his workshops and made some photos in the Lofoten Islands in January 2018.
You could save those photos in a folder called Lofoten Islands, or one called Norway, or one called January 2018, or whatever makes sense for you (you can use nested folders as an organizational tool too).
But what if you would like to view your photos in all three of those folders? (Lofoten Islands, Norway and January 2018)? This is the limitation of folders – you can only save your photos in a single folder (unless you want to make copies, in which case you’ll quickly eat up your hard drive space and create all sorts of problems caused by having multiple copies of photos).
That’s where Collections come in. You can add the same photo to as many Collections as you like. This is a powerful and often under-appreciated feature that means Collections are your best friend when it comes to organizing your photos.
For example, let’s say you regularly upload photos to a stock library like Alamy. You can create Collections for those photos so you know exactly what images you’ve uploaded and when.
Or let’s say you were hired to take some photos for a client. You can organize the delivered photos into a Collection that makes it both easy to export them (with a professional looking naming system, as above) and find them if the client ever needs them again.
As a writer and teacher, I find Collections extremely useful. I create a new Collection every time I write an article or book and add the photos that I used to it. This makes it easy for me to refer back and see what photos I used for any given article or book. Here’s an example of a Collection that contains photos I used to illustrate an article for my website.
Collections give you the freedom to organize your photos by date, place, theme or whatever makes sense to you.
5. Use the Maps module to organize photos by location
The Maps module is another under-appreciated tool in Lightroom. If your camera has GPS (and is set to embed the data in your photos) then you can use Lightroom to view exactly where your photos were taken from and to perform searches based on location.
The Maps module is still useful if your camera doesn’t have GPS. One use is to use an app on your Smartphone that records your location in a file that you can upload to Lightroom so that it knows where your photos were taken.
Another way you can take advantage of the Maps module is to take a photo with your Smartphone in every location that you take a landscape photo. This is easy for landscape photographers as we don’t tend to take great numbers of photos.
Afterwards, in Lightroom, you can use the Smartphone photo to pinpoint the exact location where your photos were taken from. Then it’s a simple matter of dragging the photos taken with your camera to the same location to embed the GPS coordinates in their metadata.
That’s what I did in this example. All the photos in this Collection were taken from the same spot, one of them with an iPhone so I could use the GPS data to position the others.
If you’re a Lightroom Classic CC subscriber you even have the option to take photos with the camera in the Lightroom mobile app on your phone. Lightroom Classic CC will download those photos automatically after your phone has connected to a wi-fi network and uploaded them to Adobe’s servers. This neatly automates the process so you don’t have to think about it.
6. Use Lightroom to create a photography website
Most landscape photographers either have a website to display their best work, or would like to have one. Considering that Lightroom is a great tool for organizing your photos and that one of the hardest things about creating a photography website is deciding which photos are going to be used in it, wouldn’t it be great if you could send your photos directly to your website from Lightroom?
The good news is that this is entirely possible. There are lots of options. For example, you could use the Koken plugin to create your website. Another option, for subscribers, is to use Adobe Portfolio. This is quick and easy to use, especially if you use Collections to organize your website photos (there’s a screenshot from my Adobe Portfolio created website below). You can even integrate a WordPress website with Lightroom via a plugin.
But even if you don’t connect Lightroom to your website, organizing your photos in Collections makes it easy to export your photos to your hard drive and to upload photos from there.
7. Use Lightroom mobile
Another use for Lightroom mobile (subscribers only) is for creating galleries of photos that you can show to other people. Lightroom mobile is convenient for this as you can download your photos to your device so you can view them without an internet connection.
Again, you use Collections for organizational purposes.
Imagine that you meet another landscape photographer in the field, or somebody who is curious about your work. It’s easy to show them what you do using your smartphone or tablet. Lightroom mobile is even suitable for making presentations to potential clients.
The screenshot below shows the Lightroom mobile interface on an iPad.
8. Use Lightroom to organize photos while on the road
Do you ever go away from home for more than a day at a time on a photography trip? If you do, you may take a laptop with you for viewing, backing up and developing photos. Lightroom comes in useful again here as it allows you to create a new Catalog just for the photos taken on your trip. This keeps the Lightroom installation on your laptop lean and uncluttered. It also saves copies of the photos in your main Catalog falling into somebody else’s hands if your laptop is lost or stolen. Then, when you get back home, all you have to do is merge your new Catalog with your main one to add your photos to your main installation of Lightroom.
9. Use the Library module to stack photos
Another neat organizational trick you can perform with Lightroom is stacking photos. Imagine that you take a sequence of seven bracketed images while on location. In Lightroom, you probably don’t want to look at all seven images. They just clutter up Grid View and make it harder to see what you’ve got. It’s even worse if you come back to the Collection after a few weeks or months and then have to figure out where each image sequence begins.
Lightroom helps you out here by letting you stack photos. In this situation, you can place all seven bracketed photos into a single stack, represented by a single photo in Grid View. This makes it much easier to view your photos.
You can also use this technique to stack photos bracketed for other purposes, such as focus stacking, or for merging a sequence of astrophotography photos.
Lightroom lets you know that you’re looking at a series of stacked photos by placing an icon that also tells you the number of photos in the stack in the top left corner of the thumbnail.
Hopefully, this article has given you some ideas for how to use Lightroom, other than for developing photos. It’s a useful tool that ultimately makes your job as a landscape photographer much easier. Of course, these are just my suggestions and ideas. You may have other ways to use Lightroom for organizing your landscape photos. If so, I’d love to hear what they are. I’m sure some of you use it very creatively. You can let us know in the comments.
Editors note: Andrew has open enrollment to his Lightroom Secrets Email Course where you’ll learn the secrets that professional Lightroom users know. In addition to 20 lessons, you get full access to Andrew and can ask him about anything Lightroom related. Enrollment is open out February so be sure to secure your spot now!