Do you ever feel like your images are dull and lack contrast and color? Are you happy with the composition but you struggle to make the image look as good as it actually is? You’re not alone. This is a common problem for most beginner photographers.

The truth is that the majority of professional photographers and images that you see posted online have been processed in one way or another.

Post-production has always been an important part of photography. It started with the darkroom in the early days and today it has evolved to the digital darkroom. While the digital darkroom enables the photographer to more or less edit anything in an image, many old-school photographers were known to do big adjustments to their images in the darkroom as well.

In this Lightroom 101 series, you’ll be introduced to the popular processing software Adobe Lightroom and you’ll learn what you need to get started to process your images with it. At the end of this series, you’ll also learn a start-to-finish workflow that you easily can adapt and use to make your images look great.

What is Lightroom?

Adobe Lightroom is one of the most used softwares to organize and develop images. It’s a fairly easy-to-use editor where you can make both large and small adjustments to your images. During the last years, Lightroom has gone through a lot of changes and they are constantly releasing new features and updates, making this a even more powerful tool.

Adobe Lightroom Free Introduction

Adobe describes Lightroom like this: Whether you are a beginner or pro or somewhere in between, Adobe Lightroom includes all your essential tools for amazing photography. With Lightroom, you can organize, edit, and share your photographs from anywhere—on your computer, on the web, on your iPad, and on your mobile device. When you make an edit or flag a favorite in one place, it’s automatically updated everywhere else.

Before Installing

Already before installing Adobe Lightroom, you should organize your images in the folders you store them. If you haven’t already done this, it can be quite time-consuming (especially if you have thousands of images) but it will be worth it and you will save a lot of time in the future.

Organise your images

It took me more than a year before I realized that I needed to organize my images. At that time, I had one folder on my hard drive called Photography and within that, all my images were stored. I haven’t deleted one single image so we’re not talking just a couple of shots here…

Needless to say, this made me quite frustrated and I really didn’t want to start moving and organizing more than one thousand files. At that moment I was seriously considering just leave the files as they were and don’t organize them after all. Looking back at it today, I’m happy that I spent that day organizing the files and creating a more structured archive.

It’s important to have an organized archive, especially when it grows bigger. When I get an inquiry about an image now, I can easily find it in my library as I know where it is located. I also use keywords to locate images within Lightroom but we’ll look more at that in a later chapter.

Making the Hierarchy

There’s no correct way of organizing your files. It depends on what you find most logical and easy-to-use. In other words, there is no blueprint.

After some trial and error I have found this to be the most efficient for me:

  • I have a main folder named “Photography”
  • Inside the main folder, I have subfolders named by countries such as “Norway” or “Spain”
  • Inside those folders, I have more subfolders sorted by years, such as “2016” or “2017”
  • At this point, it gets slightly different for each folder. If it’s a place I spend a lot of time, I might break it down into more specific regions or areas.

This has been an efficient method of organizing my files and combined with the use of keywords I can easily navigate to specific images.

How to install Lightroom

I recommend purchasing Adobe CC’s photography package (includes Lightroom and Photoshop) rather than the individual disks from a retailer. Adobe CC is Adobe’s cloud service and is based on a monthly subscription, costing around $10 depending on where you are located. The benefit of using Adobe CC is that you’ll get all future updates without having to purchase a new version.

Once you’ve signed up and downloaded Lightroom, simply follow the instructions on the screen and voila; you’ve got Lightroom!

With Lightroom installed, it’s time to begin using it. During the next parts of this 101 series, you’ll learn how to optimise the setup, import your images, create keywords, basic and advanced processing, and much more.