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10 Tips for Culling and Processing Images with Lighroom

adobe lightroom digital editing software

Working as a professional wedding photographer is very demanding.

Not only a wedding day can last up to 12-14 hours and requires lots of energy and stamina but post-processing the images can take as much as four times the time if takes to capture the images.

It is not unusual a wedding photographer to capture up to 2,000 to 4,000 images on a wedding day.  All the images then have to be downloaded, cataloged into Lightroom or other image editing software, culled and edited.

The culling part is the one which I found to be about 25% of the time required and the one which wedding photographers dread the most. Over the years I perfected the ways to make this process easier and speedier by using few simple techniques.

In this article, I would like to share some of these techniques and methodology.  The tips are generic and not only wedding photography related. I also use them for my portraiture, landscape and wildlife photography images. The techniques are also strictly Lightroom related although there are many more time saving ideas one can use.

I hope to cover these into some of my next blog articles. So let’s start reviewing the top 10 tips for culling and processing images in Lightroom.


1. Establish Rating Methodology

This is the most important time saver you can apply to your post-processing workflow as a wedding photographer.

Having a structured and consistent way to sort through the images and organize them quickly would save you lots of time and efforts. The idea is to cull and rank images only once and then work with the different buckets of images you already ranked. Doing multiple passes through the images is a time drain and can quickly increase your work backlog.

So come up with a ranking on your won, or use the one below and while culling the images in Lightroom. The ranking includes assigning number of stars ( from 1 to 5) and then grouping and editing images based on their rating.

Assigning a rating is as easy as pressing the number corresponding to the number of starts you want to assign to an image. Them use the library filter (Ctrl + L) to filter only the images you need to work on next. Here is a ranking which has been working for me:

0 (no stars): throw away image

1 (one star): keep for later use

2 (two stars): deliver to client as part of the final package

3 (three stars): deliver to client and also use for video slideshow and blog (Example:

4 (four stars): use for personal use (tutorials, composites, etc)

5 (five stars): deliver to client and perfect the editing for adding to portfolio

You can also mark the image as reject by pressing “X” button at any time while in Library mode. Then use “Ctrl + Backspace” to delete all rejected images in bulk

Related: How to Clean up Lightroom Catalog


2. Compare Picks

When trying to decide between multiple similar images and pick one final, it is very helpful to see them side by side. The “Shift + N” shortcut allows you to do that.

Here is how to use it:

  • Select all images in Library mode (click on the first image, hold “Shift” and click on the last image if in sequence. If not, hold down “Ctrl” and click on any images you want to add to the selection)
  • Press “Shift +N” and you will you will open Lightroom secondary display with the selected images
  • Scroll and pick the best one, rate it and mark for deletion the rest

The key is to let go off your desire of keep every image just because you might like it or need it later. If you don’t like it in the first place and you already have the best image identified, forget about the rest. Pick the best and move on. Your time is valuable and there is a 99% chance you will never have the time to go back and look at this “may be” images.


3. Make use of Keywords

Lightroom allows you to add keywords to images so you can later search for them easily.

For example, if you are writing a blog about wedding at Corinthian Grand Hall in San Jose, add “corinthian”, “san jose” and “wedding” into the images. You can later pull all related images and easily pick the images for your blog. Or to send to a potential bride as an example for a wedding you photographed there.

And here is an easy way to find out which images not yet have keywords. In Library mode, open the “Collections” drop-down menu and click on “Without Keywords” menu option. You will load all images without keyword. Go through them and add keywords.

Lightroom Tags


4. Backup your RAW Files

This one doesn’t actually speed up your post-processing but it is a good practice to follow.

During import, you have an option to copy the RAW files to secondary hard drive for backup purposes. I use a portable WD Elements external hard drive to copy all my RAW files during download. If anything happens to my DNG files or computer storage arrays, there is always a RAW file copy to start all over. As a wedding photographer, you cannot afford to lose any RAW file for your clients.

And with storage cost so low nowadays, the effort to have a backup compared to the time and cost it might take to recover failed disk, is well worth your time.


5. Convert to DNG format

DNG is a digital file format by Adobe which reduces the size of the camera manufacturer’s RAW files and saves you space. The savings come from reducing the metadata stored with the raw images, metadata which most photographers never need or use. The savings add up and you can use your disk arrays to store more images.

To select DNG as file format, press “Shift + Ctrl + I” to open the Import screen and click on the “Copy as DNG” link on the top of the screen. Lightroom would copy the camera manufacturer’s RAW files into your hard drives first, then would convert them to DNG once the copy is over. The good thing is that while the RAW file to DNG conversion is happening


Lightroom import


6. Learn Lightroom Keyboard Shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts are great time saver for busy wedding photographers. You can save lots of time by memorizing the most frequently used shortcuts for your post-processing workflow.  There are so many Lightroom keyboard shortcuts, but here are few which I use frequently and help me speed up my processing time:

For rating images use: 1-5 buttons to assign stars to your images

For importing images use: Shift + Ctrl + I

For marking image for deletion and moving to the next image: Shift + X

For deleting all images marked for deletion: Backspace

For removing all flags from an image: Shift +U

For turning library filters on and off: Ctrl +L

For displaying image in full screen mode: F

For creating virtual copy of an image: Ctrl + ‘


7. Clean Up the Clutter

Modern DSLR cameras capture digital images in high resolution and file sizes for RAW files can exceed 20 MB each. Overtime this adds up to lots of storage required to store the digital images.

It is not only a good practice but also a cost saving to delete all the images you don’t need or already delivered to your clients and backed up. Here are few simple steps to help you get rid of unwanted images in Lightroom:

Ctrl +L (enable filters)

Go to Library -> Rating and select “None” and “Only”

Select all images (click on the first one), hold Shift and click on the last image

Right Click and remove from Disk images

Remove all images marked for deletion:

Lightroom Files deletion

Press: Ctrl + Backspace . Choose “Delete from Disk”.

If you choose “Remove” Lightroom would only remove the image metadata from its catalog but would leave the digital file on disk. Overtime this would cause orphant files and disk space waste.

Related: How to Audit and Remove Orphan Digital Files


8. Create Smaller Catalogs

Larger Lightroom catalogs tend to slow down the startup time and also pose a greater risk when becoming corrupted. A good rule on thumb is to split your catalogs into smaller catalogs and don’t end up with one huge catalog. Some photographers create catalog for each new client, but frankly this might be way too much overhead. 

A better approach might be not to let your catalog grow with more than 12,000 files. As you deliver the images to your clients, backup the RAW files as catalog or simply export the final images you already delivered on DVD or cloud storage and keep the RAW files you plan to later add to your portfolio. This way you can always create another DVD or USB flash drive for your clients and also have the highest quality digital image to create portfolio images.



Wedding photography business it time intensive and laborious process. Optimizing your digital editing workflow and using time savings strategies would help you spend more time capturing amazing images and less time processing them. 

It doesn’t take much to do that and with employing the techniques listed above you can be more efficient and reduce the time required for editing of your wedding images.

I hope you found this article useful. If so, feel free to share with anyone who is planning to get into the wedding photography or would be interested. The wedding photographer’s community would be stronger and more successful if everyone helps the others to become better photographers.

About the Author:

Trifon Anguelov Photography is a premiere wedding and events photography business  based in Mountain View, CA 94040 and serving clients in San Francisco Bay Area, CA. You can read more about the author and review his portfolio on his website. For complete list of services and to book your wedding, visit his Wedding Packages page.



How To Reclaim Disk Space in Adobe Lightroom

adobe lightroom digital editing software One of the most used management and editing software for digital images is Adobe Lightroom. Surpassing Apple’s Aperture, ACDSee Pro and PaintShop Pro competitive products, it gained popularity for its easy to use interface, intuitive controls and features rich capabilities. Some even consider it, Photoshop trimmed and affordable version.

Lightroom allows professional photographers and almost everyone to import, catalog, edit, print and share their digital images. For the purpose of this article, I will focus just one capability of Lightroom: cataloging and organizing of digital images. Lightroom catalog contains an index of all digital files imported and organized into the catalog by adding tags, flags or collections.

One of the problems when working with Lightroom catalogs is that when files are deleted from the catalog, they might not always be deleted from the hard drives or disk storage. In other words, the RAW files already imported into Lightroom catalog can remain on your hard drives and only the Lightroom catalog (think of it as index or a pointer to the files) can be updated. This leads to wasted space and digital images hard to determine if they are part of the live catalog and therefore should be archives and retained.

Sounds like a thing we should be aware and fix. But before I give you the solution to the problem, let’s first understand the problem so we can prevent it in the future.

So, how all this happens:

It all starts with the delete images dialog in Lightroom. When you select images in Lightroom and hit the Backspace buttona dialog window would pop up with two options:

  • Delete from Disk
  • Remove from Lightroom
Delete photos from Adobe Lightroom catalog

Delete photos from Adobe Lightroom catalog

The first option would remove the photos from your computer hard drive and also would remove them from your Lightroom catalog. This is the best and preferred method to remove photos from Lightroom. However this is not the default option in the delete dialog and many times when a hurry, one can chose the second default option.

The second option, simply removed the pointers for the photos from Ligthroom catalog while leaving on the files untouched on your hard drive. It is the safest option and it is default because it can do less damage if executed by mistake. But unfortunately, the user might not even realize he is only updating Lightroom catalog and not delete the photos.

So next time your hard drives fill up at 95% or more, check if any orphan files are at fault before forking over more cash to upgrade your drives. The solution might be easier and less costly than you think.

As with every destructive action you take on your computer, a work of caution is advised. Please, make sure you have backup and double check the files you have selected. WARNING: the steps below, would delete photos from your computer permanently!

1. Check The Current Space Usage:

First thing first. We need to measure how much space we reclaimed so go ahead and check how much storage Lightroom uses for your photos now. If you use Windows OS, navigate to the folder, right click and click on Properties. You will see the total storage used by all files in this folder. For Mac and OSX, once you navigate to the directory, hit Cmd+I keys or right click and click on Get Info option.


Check  used disk space by photos

Check used disk space by photos


2. Navigate to Your Images Library:

In Lightroom, click G button to go to Library mode and select the top level folder which contains all your images. If your photos are stored under multiple drives or folders, repeat the steps starting from Step #3 till Step #6 below for each hard drive or directory.

3. Synchronize the Library Folder:

Now that you are in the Library mode and in the folder where Lightroom thinks all yout photos are, go ahead and right click on the folder and pick Synchronize Folder menu option. Lightroom will visit the folder you selected and will check if all files in this folder already exist in its catalog. If any discrepancies are found, Lightroom would update its records. For large number of files this might take a while, so be patient. Grab a coffee or a snack while you wait to update.  The wait would be worth it. Lightroom after crunching the numbers would show you how may files in the folder doesn’t exist in the catalog and therefore can be deleted.


Sync catalog  in Adobe Lightroom

Sync catalog in Adobe Lightroom

Confirm the catalog  sync in Adobe Lightroom

Confirm the catalog sync in Adobe Lightroom


4. Import All New Photos:

Now that we found which orphant files we need to deal with, let’s take some action. First, we will import these into Lightroom so we can delete them later. Go ahead and click on Synchronize button and Lightroom would import all the orphan files into its current catalog. And not to make things confusing, but you will have two options: Add and Copy. You need to select Add option as the files already exist and all we need to do is to add them to the catalog. If you select Copy, Lightroom would try to copy the files in addition to additing to its catalog.

And here is the option Lightroom gives us to deal with this files. Every time you import files into Lightroom, it created new view called Previous Import into the Catalog panel, so we would have the list and preview of all orphan images available to us. I can almost see the sparkles if your eyes. We can then go ahead and do what we have not done before. Delete instead of Remove these files and get rid of them forever.

5. Delete The Orphan Files:

Please, go ahead and scroll through the images in the film strip to make sure none of these images is something you actually need. CAUTION: The files you select would be deleted forever, so if you think you need any of them, backup before proceeding with the next step.

Now go ahead and select all pictures from Previous Import, hit the Backspace which is the shortcut of deleting images in Lightroom and click on Delete from Disk option. Lightroom will now delete the photos from the hard drive and also from its catalog. If you make a mistake, not to worry, go to your recycle bin, restore the deleted files to their original locations and import them back into your Lightroom catalog.


Delete photos from Adobe Lightroom catalog

Delete photos from Adobe Lightroom catalog


6. Check The Disk Cleanup Savings:

Now that we have actually asked Lightroom to delete the orphan files and Ligthroom did such a great job, it it time to check the space savings. First, go ahead and empty your Trash (OSX) or Recicle bin (Windows). Then check the disk spaces used by the same folder you started working on. If you have photos to delete in Step #5, then you should be able to see less space used.

7. Backup Your Photos:

Last step. Take a fresh backup of the remaining files on the hard drive you just cleaned and if you backup this drive to second or third hard drive, you can not go ahead and sync them up so you have the disk savings on the backup drives too.


Archiving and maintaining client’s digital files is part of every photographer’s workflow. Although the price for disk storage has declined significantly for the last 5 years, it still makes sense to maintain your Lightroom catalog and digital files archive and keep it well organized and clean. Smaller volume of digital files makes it easy to archive and restore, it also frees up space for new images. And we all know how much images a wedding photographer can bring home after each wedding. So be smart and keep your hard drives clutter free.

About the Author:

Trifon Anguelov Photography is a Premiere Bay Area Wedding and Events Photography business  based in Mountain View, CA 94040 and serving clients in San Francisco Bay Area. You can follow him on social media (links in the top right sideblock of this blog) or check his latest photography projects on his Wedding and Portrait Photography Site


How to Display Camera Focus Points in Lightroom

Trifon Anguelov Photography - Chairs Every photographer knows that modern cameras use multiple focus points to allow a focus point to be selected before capturing the images. The number of focus points vary from camera to camera and the more expensive and sophisticated a camera body is, the more focus points it has. There is a dedicated auto focus sensor in each camera to allow the proper focusing. More advanced cameras even allow the photographer to group multiple focus points and let the camera select which focus point from the focus group to use for best focus.
And finally there is an fully automated focus point selection mode in which the camera selects and tracks a focus point continuously. So many great options and capabilities in modern camera bodies.
In post-processing when the images are downloaded and processes however, the focus point information (the location where the focus point was actually locked while capturing the images) is not easily viewable. Especially, when using Adobe Lightroom digital editing software. In the past a photographer had to use third party tools to load the images in order to see the focus points. But now there is a FREE Lightroom plug-in which allows to do that in Lightroom.
It’s supported on both Apple OSX and Microsoft Windows OS and easy to install. Just visit: for installation and usage details.
I have tested it last night and works as expected. You have to be in “Library” mode in Lightroom and you need to scroll down to the very last menu option on the bottom “Plug-in Extras”. From there select “Show Focus Points” and voila, you will see where exactly your camera has focused.
Knowing the focus points helps you in a multiple ways. First, it allows you to see if you completely nailed the focus during client sessions. Second, allows a photographer to adjust and correct its focusing techniques and see the results in post-processing. So if you ever wanted to see the image focus points in Lightroom, now you have a free, easy to install and use solution.

Agree, disagree, have comments or feedback? Drop me a line in the comments section and if you like this post, share it with your friends so they can also benefit from information.

Trifon Anguelov Photography
Wedding and Events Photographer




Analyze Your Lightroom Catalog With Lightroom Analytics

Lightroom AnalyticsAdobe Lightroom is commonly used nowadays from many photographers to edit and post process digital images. It’s a very useful and powerful application on a more affordable price than Adobe Photoshop which undoubtedly is Adobe’s crown jewel for digital image editing. Lightroom also provides digital image files management along with the editing, as well printing and publishing capabilities which makes it very popular choice among both hobbyists and professional photographers.

Lightroom stores metadata about all digital files imported into its catalogs but so far doesn’t offer any analytics of the metadata. Questions like, what is the most frequent used focal length by a photographers in a certain catalog or time period? Or how many images have been processed with a certain noise or sharpness settings? Also no visualization of these metrics is currently provided by Lightroom.

I found a software application which can easily answer these and many more questions: Lightroom Analytics

Once Lightroom catalog is exported and imported into Lightroom Analytics application, different metrics and pie charts are created to reveal the details from the metadata. Why this is important one might ask?

Related: New DSLR and Lenses Are Not Enough

For example: If you bought an expensive 400mm L telephoto lens after seeing beautiful images of birds in flight but your Lightroom metadata shows you only have 5 or 10 images taken with this lens last year, isn’t time to put this lens for sale and pick another lens which would better serve the current needs? Or if one finds most frequently to use f/4 and higher, does he still needs the expensive f/1.2 or f/1.4 lenses in his back?

Of course, this application doesn’t provide all answers or can be a definitive guidance on which lens or camera settings one should keep or use but offers good insights into the camera settings, post-processing settings and lenses used in the past.


Analyzing your Lightroom catalogs can reveal useful information about the usage pattern of the lenses, focal lengths and apertures you have been using. As a wedding or portrait photographer, this is a valuable information to understand which lenses you most frequently use, as what focal length and aperture. You can make a decisions based on this information by utilizing the information from the Lightroom Analytics. If you are looking to learn about what mistakes to avoid as a photographer, consider reading my other guide: Top 10 Mistakes Every Professional Photographer Should Avoid

Think differently, agree or disagree? Drop me a line or comment below.

About the Author:

Trifon Anguelov Photography is a Premiere Bay Area Wedding Photographer in Mountain View, CA. Many clients in the entire San Francisco Bay Area have entrusted us with capturing their wedding days. To learn more about the wedding photography services we offer and book a wedding or portrait appointment, visit our Wedding and Portrait Photography Site

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Free Lightroom video training

Many photographers IMG_9804are using digital software to edit their images before submitting to their clients. For professional or paid photographers this is a MUST.

No doubt Adobe is the king on the hill and has been developing and releasing amazing digital editing software over the years. In the beginning Photoshop was the only offering Adobe had for digital imaging. Truly amazing software and very smart acquisition for Adobe. Over the years Photoshop expanded to add more filters and capabilities but the fundamental concept of using non-destructive editing by introducing layers and layer masks is still very useful even today.

But as every software suite, the list of features and capabilities has grown to the point that even seasoned and professional digital editors used just a fraction of Photoshop vast bag of tricks. So Adobe came up with another smart idea: pick some of Photoshop functionalities and bundle them into separate products: Photoshop Elements and Lightroom.

Well while Elements seemed as crippled version of Photoshop and somehow justifies the low cost, Lightroom on the other side with its extremely easy to use interface and capabilities is in many cases the first choice to edit and publish digital images. From the way how the editing tools are organized in panels and the panels are organized according to the post-processing workflow (from top to bottom) is nothing short of user friendly.

Adobe last year released Lightroom 5 which adds even more editing capabilities and makes it even more robust and useful tool. If you are just starting or have been using it for a while and looking to learn more ways to edit your digital images with Adobe Lightroom here is a collection of videos worth watching:

The first one is kind of long (good thing there is a forward button in Youtube), but the instructor gives accurate information and good editing advice. All content applies to both LR4 and LR5:

The second video is about portrait retouching:

The collection of videos below is for Lightroom 2 but the concepts and workflow is pretty much the same so I recommend if you don’t already know how to do these edits to watch these videos as well:

  1. Soften the skin:
  2. Luminance features in LR:
  3. Selecting coloring in Lightroom:
  4. Batch file processing in Lightroom:
  5. Using adjustment brush in Ligthroom:
  6. Convert images to Black & White:
  7. Sorting and ranking images in Lightroom:
  8. Creating virtual copies in Ligthroom:
  9. Watermark images in Lightroom:
  10. Remove unwanted objects in Ligthroom:

And if these are not enough there are 10 additional free videos you might want to watch:

Think differently, agree or disagree? Drop me a line or comment below.

About the Author:

Trifon Anguelov Photography is a Premiere Bay Area Wedding and Events Photography business  based in Mountain View, CA 94040 and serving clients in San Francisco Bay Area. You can follow him on social media (links in the top right sideblock of this blog) or check his latest photography projects on his Wedding and Portrait Photography Site