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Lightroom Quick Tips… Culling at HyperSpeed. by Rick Valasek, PPOC 1st VP

08/04/2015 7:42 PM | Deleted user

Best Practices to maximize your experience while saving time and effort.

After you have “decompressed” from the photo shoot - it’s time to import your images into Lightroom, and begin the thankless task of picking the “keepers” from the “soon to be deleted.” 

After talking to several wedding and event photographers - there is a huge agreement regarding two factors involved in the process of culling your photos. First, EVERYONE absolutely hates this process and secondly, it is a real time-hog. 

In fact, I felt the same way until I was tutored in this process by one of the most successful photographers on the West Coast. They guided me in a few basic principles that have really streamlined my business and allowed me to cut down the culling time dramatically. 

To employ this process you have to adopt a few basic “leaps of faith.” First of all, you need to know and believe that your first instinct in selecting “keepers” from the rest is always right. There is no room for “maybe, if I work REAL hard, I can save this image.” The second principal is there are only two choices - keep or discard - just make the decision quick and with conviction. 

OK, if you’re still reading this and you have made this leap of faith then on to using Lightroom (in a very special way) to make this a quick process…in Lightroom there is the ability to use “white” flags”, “black flags”, stars and colors to “code” photos. For now all we are going to concern ourselves with are the white flags and the black flags. It probably makes sense to everyone to know that we are going to use the “white flag” as a “keeper” and the “black flag” as a reject. OK….once you have imported the images into a folder in Lightroom select the first image in the group and hit the “f” key which will allow the photo to fill the screen. Now for the “new” part…while the image is on the screen - take your left hand and hold down the “command” key (on a Mac) or the “ctrl” key on a PC - and with your right hand press either the “up-arrow” or the “down-arrow” key. Obviously, the up-arrow key is for “keeper” - white flag and the down-arrow is for discard - black flag. NOTE: this hitting the down-arrow key will only place the black flag on the image it will NOT discard it. (see photo of the culled gallery below). 


After you have hit the up-arrow or the down-arrow key, hit the right-arrow key to progress through the gallery. Of course, you can hit the left arrow key to “back-up” through the gallery (try to resist the temptation to second-guess yourself). Keep going through the gallery using the up/down/right arrow keys. You will be amazed at how fast you can get this process done. 

After you have made your decisions, hit the “f” key again to return to the “normal” Lightroom view and use the thumbnails to review your work. You’ll notice the flags and the fact that the black flagged photos are “grayed” out. You should now select all of the white arrow images and create a “Collection” so you can concentrate your retouching work on them. Good luck and we’ll talk about the next Lightroom Speed Tip next week!

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