By Roger (20 Mar 2014)
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (LR) was designed to increase your productivity and organization. If you buy LR, or any similar program, you should ensure you take full advantage of these features. They are easy to learn and can make a big difference in your work flow. You're wasting your money if you buy the software and use it only as a photo viewer and RAW conversion tool.
You can improve your photos and speed your work flow, even before you can see the photos in the Library module, by using only one part of the Import menu. It's down at the bottom of the Import menu and labeled Apply During Import.
The first pull-down menu is Develop Settings. You can apply any of the presets that ship with LR, but, better yet, you can create your own presets to use. If you need a refresher on presets, see Mark's blog from about three years ago (here).
I use a preset I created as a starting point for all my photos. Why is that even necessary?
Just in case you didn't know, the image you see on the back of your camera is a JPG – a JPG that has been processed inside the camera. This is true even when your camera is set to record only RAW. Many new photographers are dismayed when they import a RAW photo into LR, and it doesn't look as vibrant as what they saw on the camera's LCD. The reason is simple – the RAW photo hasn't been processed, yet.My preset puts the photo very close to what I saw on the camera's LCD. It adds lens correction, a little clarity and a smidge of vibrance to the RAW photos. If I decide later that I want to reduce or add to the settings I added on import, that is an easy change. Of course, you can make multiple presets, but you can only one during import.
The second pull-down menu is labeled Metadata. I just talked about metadata in September (here). LR will automatically bring in the information from the camera, but LR allows you to add other information into the metadata for your photos: city; state; country: job number; captions; comments, etc. However, this information probably changes with every different shoot, and there are more efficient ways to add these in one step, once the photos are imported. But some things are consistent, and, for that I've made another preset. The preset adds in my contact and copyright information. Every time I import photos, my information is added. You can make more than one preset here, too.
The last block is for Keywords. I use this block for high level keywords since you want to ensure you are inserting keywords appropriate to every photo of your import. I'll insert the highly-specific keywords after the import. For example, in the spread below, you can see all the photos are from a wedding. Since I shot the wedding, I know it was in Poland. I entered both “Wedding” and “Poland” as keywords on import. All other keywords – names, food, dance, reception, etc. – will be entered after import.
You can see how paying attention to these three little things, at the bottom of the Import menu can help you move quickly through some admin work and prep your photos for further development. You will have to pay attention to the keywords, but the other two presets are fixed once, and they're done. This saves you time in your work flow and gets you back to the fun stuff.