Lightroom Workflow

My Lightroom Workflow

I use Adobe Lightroom for my photo processing needs and I have a workflow that I will share here with you. Please use it whole or in part as you need. I’m not going to show you each detail, but all the information you need will be in here. I’m writing it as if I’m telling myself what to do so if it seems direct, well, it was meant to be that way.

  1. Import the RAW images and copy each to a back-up hard drive while importing. Automatically apply copyright notice using a special preset during import. Automatically save files to directories sorted by date and add them to the folder list.
    1. Leave as-is in RAW format or convert to DNG? As much as I like the idea that DNG files are a “standard,” the files are smaller, and the sidecar XMP files are contained within them, I can not process DNG files in some software such as DxO Optics Pro. This makes it impossible to save only DNG files. I must keep my RAW files (CR2 or NEF formats).
  2. Sort in Library. X (reject) the duds (90% of the duds are blurry or just poor composition).
  3. Process RAW files in DxO Optics Pro and export them back to Lightroom as lossless TIFF files. (Note that some files I opt to not process in DxO, but that is a choice made on a photo by photo basis.)
  4. Fix-up each in Develop. Use my special presets. Mark each with a yellow flag when done in the Develop module. I then break out into special processing like HDR or for stock photos if the candidate looks promising. That workflow is different, not included here, and diverges from this point.
  5. Back to Library. Add keywords and description (optional). Mark with a green flag when done here. If I’m not going to export the photo right now, then I just leave the flag as yellow. I can sort on green and yellow flags using my smartfolders in the collections section.
  6. Export using my special export presets. 90% of the time I use the one preset for export and upload that does this:
    1. Export as JPEG at 90% quality to a directory on my hard drive.
    2. Automatically save a copy to a directory on my hard drive that is only used for uploading to my photo site. In this case, it is named “upload to smugmug.”
      1. This ‘save a copy’ thing is achieved using a free Lightroom plug-in that I received from PKZSoftware.
    3. Automatically open the “upload to smugmug” folder in a new window when export is completed.
  7. Open my photo site (on smugmug) in my browser and select ‘add files.’ Drag and drop from my open “upload to smugmug” folder to my browser’s smugmug “add files” window. Files are added and uploaded to my photo site. Delete the photos in the “upload to smugmug” folder so I know there are no uploads pending for me next time.


That’s my Lightroom workflow. It has worked well for me for years now and has evolved to this state over time. I am still modifying it as needed, but this is what works best right now. Details of my Develop module and special processing workflows are not here, but this should give you a general idea of what works for me in Lightroom.

Thank you for reading what I wrote – I hope you enjoyed it!