Ideally, most of us preach that you should organize your Lightroom workflow along the lines of the order in which the Lightroom modules appear. So you should start in the by adding the metadata and keywords, delete the images that will never have any value
My workflow may not be suited to everyone. A lot of what works for you depends on the type of work that comprises the bulk of your shooting and on the personal habits that make you most comfortable. Just so you know, most of my work these days consists of beauty shots that I submit to stock agencies.
All the metadata steps I take in the first run-through of the images are in this paragraph. I don’t want entering metadata to slow down my winnowing process and I don’t want to add a lot of individual metadata to images that may later be eliminated. I start by clicking the Library Module’s Import button.
If I’m starting a new collection from a particular place or shoot, In the Import Photos dialog, I make sure to create a new directory. If I’m just continuing another shoot after having already loaded some images, I put the new photos into the same folder as the original shoot.
Always, these days, I choose Filename for the File Naming template because Lightroom takes the camera initials off the file name if I don’t. These days, there are too many worthwhile technological innovations that are too valuable to ignore by sticking to just one brand of camera. So I want to know which camera shot which pictures, even years after I shot it. Granted, there are other ways to find that out, but I just feel comfortable having those initials in the file name. I don’t impose any develop settings because I prefer to look at each image as the camera shot it and then go from there. For metadata, I put all the metadata that I want to have attached to every image into a metadata set I name after myself. It includes all my copyright and contact information. Under keywords, I type all the keywords I can think of that most of the imported photos will have in common. If there are a few on the card that were shots that were taken for some other reason, such as a portrait of my client or an assistant, I can always put the metadata that any group of exceptions that should have the same metadata by selecting them all, then editing the metadata in the Metadata Panel. I can also use the Painter capability to change the keywords for specific images or groups of images that are exceptions.
The next thing I do is eliminate all the images that are so obviously no good that they don’t even have to be examined. The frame is too under- or over-exposed, someone walked in front of the camera just as the shutter fired, or the thing’s so blurry it’s not even useful as an abstract.
Now I look at groups. Whenever shots that belong in a sequence are interrupted by others I drag the sequence shots together (you have to be in User Sort mode). Now I click the Loupe View button and use the arrow keys to move from one to the next, just looking for immediate disqualifiers like a slight bit of camera shake, something obtrusive in the frame that I don’t want to take the time to clone out, or a near-duplicate that just isn’t quite as good. If there’s any doubt, I click in the image with the Loupe tool and take a closer look. As soon as I find one of those instances, I hit the Delete key and remove the image from the disk. At this point, I usually have fewer than 50% of the images I originally downloaded.
While I’m going through the photos, if I see anything that obviously needs fixing or will be given an extra push by another program, I go straight into the Develop module and make those changes. I want the chosen pictures to “prove themselves” before I leave them in. Then I’m able to at least show a set to the client or to myself just as soon as I’ve finished this first-stage winnowing process. I’m able to try some extreme adjustments and take a close look at the result to see whether there’s going to be too much noise or a loss of smooth shading as a result. If I can’t make the image look like I want it to look, it’s gone. Two things that really help at this stage are the Previous and Sync buttons.
If I see something in the image that needs Photoshop for a fix, I Right Click and then choose Edit in Photoshop to do the job in Photoshop right at that moment. Retouching, localized or masked adjustments that are needed to “pop the picture”, and the cloning out of undesirable elements (trash and telephone lines being most common for me). If I see anything in Photoshop that makes the photo un-usable, I just save the image, close it, go back to Lightroom, and delete both the RAW and the Photoshop TIF file I just created. If the image comes out a winner, I immediately give it a red label;which is what I give everything I’m going to put into the slide show for client approval.
Once I’m done with all of the above, I hope I have a day or two (or at least an hour or two) to let things rest. Then I go back through all the files and Red Tag all the winners. Then I back the entire shoot up to a Delkin Gold DVD (guaranteed to last 100 years) and put the contents of that DVD into a Word document that I keep as a archive of all the contents of my DVD. Then each DVD is given a title so that’s all I need to mark the disk with. I then put the title of that DVD into the keywords for that image so that I’ll always be able to find the images that exist only on a DVD. I then copy the DVD to an “ordinary” name brand DVD. Then the gold DVDs go into a safe, while the others are kept at hand, just in case.
The last step is to carefully go through all the images one more time in the Library, mark all the images that will be saleable with Red flags, select everything that isn’t red flagged, and press Delete to delete them from my hard drive. Keeping only saleable images on my hard-drive greatly simplifies life. The image below shows the red tagged, Photoshop-edited file at the right, with the original on the left.