Editor's note: This month only – Use the code july5 at checkout to buy the 5 Steps to Better Black & White Photography and 5 Steps to Better Exposure ebooks for just $5! Click the links to learn more. Thanks for reading, Andrew.
One of the keys to getting the best out of Lightroom Classic is learning how to organize your best photos. If you’ve read yesterday’s tutorial you’ve probably realized that if you want to use photos in creative projects it helps if you know which ones are your best. It also helps if you know where to find them. This is where your organizational skills come in.
Let’s a closer look at this.
Note: Most of these ideas work in earlier versions of Lightroom too, but Lightroom Classic does have certain tools, such as color labels for Collections and Adobe Portfolio, that make the process easier.
1. Use Collections to hold your best photos in Lightroom Classic
I suggest you create a Collection Set called Portfolio. Then add Collections inside it to organize your photos by theme (see below). This is a simple way to keep all your best photos in one place.
It helps if you assign a specific color label to the Collections that contain your best photos. This makes them easy to see as you scroll through the Collections panel.
Tip: You can find Collections with color labels quickly by clicking on the magnifying glass icon in the search field and selecting Labeled Collections.
Extra tip: Make sure the Collections containing your best photos are synced so that you can use them across the entire Adobe ecosystem of apps and services.
Bonus tip: Use the Lightroom app for mobile to view your synced portfolio Collections on tablets and phones.
2. Shoot lots of photos and edit ruthlessly
Shoot lots of photos (in a mindful way, without machine gunning). Explore themes and projects. Take photos of family and friends. Experiment with new techniques, like macro photography or using off-camera flash.
Then get used to selecting, developing and sharing only your best photos. Be your own editor. View your photos critically. It’s a simple idea, but it works.
3. Pick your best ten photos
Every year I go through my photos and pick my ten best photos. The benefit of this exercise is that it forces you to be ruthless with your choice. Here are some questions to ask yourself during the editing process.
• Is your subject interesting?
• Is the composition good?
• Is the light beautiful?
• What themes emerge as you select your best photos?
• What cameras and lenses did you use the most?
• Are you drawn to making photos of people, places or a mixture of the two?
• Are your best images color or black and white?
• What links can you find between your best images? For example, are they linked by subject matter or developing treatment?
• What ideas for future themes and projects emerge?
Tip: An alternative approach is to pick your best photo from each month, so you end up with 12 best photos for the year. This exercise encourages you to evaluate and edit your photos on a monthly basis.
4. Use Adobe Portfolio
It’s super easy to create your own portfolio website using Adobe Portfolio.
But what you might not know is that Adobe Portfolio lets you make up to five different websites. Even if you use it to make an official portfolio website, you can also use it to make a personal portfolio.
What do I mean by that?
It’s difficult to be objective about your own photos. Creating a personal portfolio website means you can view your photos on a tablet or phone rather than in Lightroom. It helps you see your photos with fresh eyes. It’s like editing somebody else’s work.
A personal portfolio is for you only. It’s not meant to be shared.
How to make a personal portfolio
Start by adding your best photos to Collections in your Portfolio Collection Set.
Add those Collections to your personal portfolio website in Adobe Portfolio. This only takes a few minutes after you’ve made the initial decision about which theme (layout) to use.
Now, when you’re in the mood, you can whip out your phone or tablet and look at your photos in a relaxed frame of mind. It helps you be more objective and evaluate your portfolio better.
For example, here’s a simple portfolio website I made that shows my favorite ten images from each of the last five years.
And here’s what it looks like on my iPad.
5. Organize your best photos by themes and projects
I like to shoot portraits, travel, landscapes and close-up photos. It makes sense to create a separate portfolio Collection for each subject.
You can also create portfolio Collections for more abstract themes that emerge as you evaluate your photos.
For example, red is an important color in Chinese culture. So I created a Collection containing some of my favorite photos that use it.
If you shoot projects create a Collection that contains the best photos from them.
6. Look for simple, iconic images
This last tip applies to those of you who want to use Adobe Post to create graphics or flyers. Designs always look best if you use strong photos with simple composition. Cluttered compositions are out, minimal compositions are in.
For example, here are a couple of graphics I created in Adobe Post using photos in synced portfolio Collections.
One of the reasons these ideas work is that portfolios evolve over time. A the years go some photos will become permanent members of your portfolio. Others will drop out as you realize they weren’t as good as you first thought.
How seriously should you take all this? If your ambition is to be a top commercial photographer or win a Pulitzer Prize, then very seriously.
But if photography is a hobby, it’s more important to know where to find your best photos. Don’t take it too seriously. Enjoy the process, have fun with it, and start using your photos in creative projects.
We covered some of those (Adobe Portfolio, Spark Post, Spark Page and Behance) in yesterday’s tutorial.
And tomorrow I have a new creative project idea for you that I know you’re going to love!
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