Rob Sylvan has been answering Lightroom questions on the KelbyOne Help Desk since Lightroom 1.0 was released in 2007. A photographer, writer, and educator, Rob teaches Lightroom and Photoshop classes at trade shows, conferences, and camera clubs around the US. He's also an adjunct faculty member at New Hampshire Technical Institute.
It's been over 10 years since I wrote the first edition of this book on what was then Lightroom 2. Saying a lot has changed since then is a bit of an understatement. At the end of 2017 Adobe released two similar, but distinctly different, versions of Lightroom with the goal of addressing two similar, yet different, digital photography workflows. I've structured this book to help you understand the differences between these versions of Lightroom - one now called "Adobe Lightroom Classic" and a new one now just called "Adobe Lightroom" - so that you are prepared to choose the right one for your needs. Just be sure to read all of Chapter 1 to get a handle on that. That said, the primary focus of this book is on how to get the most out of Lightroom Classic. There are a few chapters to help a Lightroom Classic user get started with the new Lightroom on the mobile platform, but if you are only using the new Lightroom on all your devices you'll want to check out a different book.
Back in 2007 when Lightroom 1.0 was released, it was considered a paradigm shift in the way photographers managed and edited their digital photos. Today we are witnessing a new paradigm shift thanks to the rise of the smartphone as digital camera with always-connected Internet (which is why there is this new Lightroom version). While paradigm shifts offer new ways of doing things and the potential of improved workflows, they can sometimes be disorienting and frustrating to come to terms with at first. That's why Adobe still offers the original version, which is now called Lightroom Classic. My hope is that this book can serve as a resource to keep you out of trouble, on task, and moving forward as you take your photos from camera to storage to output, over and over again.
About This Book
I am more than just a user of both versions of Lightroom. Through my roles on the KelbyOne.com Lightroom Help Desk, as an educator, as an author, and my participation in various Lightroom groups, workshops, and forums, I've worked with tens of thousands of fellow Lightroom users over the last decade. I've tried to understand the problems they faced as I've helped them find solutions. I wrote this book with the intention of preventing you from encountering the same problems that others have stumbled on, while also sharing the collective wisdom I've gained to make your workflow as efficient as possible.
How This Book Is Organized
I organize this book with the larger Lightroom Classic workflow in mind, but each chapter - and even the sections within a chapter - represent all the smaller workflows that make up the larger whole. So although there's something to be gained from following the structure I lay out in the book, if you're new to Lightroom Classic, my hope is that you can pick up this book when you need it and jump right to the place in your workflow that you want to learn more about.
Because of the existence of two different versions of Lightroom, I've also structured the book with the goal of minimizing confusion about which version I am talking about. I explicitly refer to Adobe Lightroom Classic as "Lightroom Classic" (as cumbersome as that is to read over and over again) and refer to the new Adobe Lightroom as just "Lightroom" (along with references to it being cloud-based or part of an ecosystem) within a given chapter.
Note that up until the middle of 2019, both versions had the initials "CC" (for Creative Cloud) appended to the end of their respective names. Now that it is only possible to license any version of the Lightroom family of products through a Creative Cloud subscription, Adobe dropped the "CC" from the ends of both product names. For sake of clarity, what was Lightroom Classic CC is now just Lightroom Classic, and what was Lightroom CC is now just Lightroom.
Lightroom Classic is a workflow tool by design, and within the macro workflow of capture to output there exist countless smaller workflows that cover all the micro tasks every photographer needs to complete. The very concept of a workflow implies that there is both a natural beginning and a finite end. I mean, you can't start editing a photo if you haven't first pressed the shutter, right?
Part 1: Getting Started with Lightroom Classic
If you're new to Lightroom Classic - or new to digital photography - you'll definitely want to spend some time in Part 1. I've seen too many people get off on the wrong foot with Lightroom Classic and lose time (and sleep) trying to get themselves back on track because they didn't get a few basic concepts under their belt first. I've helped quite a few folks get back on track, and I know some of the more common pitfalls, so here's your chance to benefit from my experience so you can spend more time productively working with your photos. In this part, I also explain the differences between the two versions of Lightroom and help guide you toward the one that best fits your needs.
Part 2: Managing Your Photos with Lightroom Classic
Managing data might be the least sexy part of a photographer's workflow; however, it's possibly the most essential. Considering that the volume of photos we photographers produce increases each year, this is an aspect of the workflow you have no choice but to get right. To be honest, this aspect of Lightroom Classic is where people have the most trouble.
Part 3: Working in Lightroom Classic's Digital Darkroom
This part is where you work to realize the vision you had the moment the shutter clicked. For some, it's as much fun as the capture, but for others, it's a chore to accomplish the greatest quality in the least amount of time. Lightroom Classic can meet the needs of both kinds of people.
Part 4: Sharing Your Work with the World
Unless you're satisfied with the process of only making photographs, you're going to require some form of output and sharing that extends beyond just your eyeballs. Lightroom Classic offers several options for output.
Part 5: The Part of Tens
You can think of this section as how to get started with the new Lightroom for Lightroom Classic users. I want to achieve three things with this part of the book: I want to prepare you for the option of using Lightroom Classic and Lightroom together; I want you to know the basics of organizing and editing in Lightroom on the mobile platform; and I want to teach you about my absolute favorite mobile phone camera app found in Lightroom for mobile.
Conventions Used in This Book
Lightroom Classic is wonderfully identical on both Windows and Mac operating systems. I use both operating systems daily, but I create the majority of screen captures on Mac because that's what I use most. However, I do include Windows captures where needed to highlight the few places where there are minor differences in the interface or dialog boxes, and there are a few captures from mobile devices where needed.
In the case of keyboard shortcuts (and there are many), I lead off with the Mac shortcut and always include the Windows shortcut in parentheses right after. All the shortcuts that don't require an additional modifier key are the same on both platforms. When I give an instruction for opening a contextual menu, I use the term right-click even though you may not be using an input device with a right-click button. For the Mac, right-clicking is the same as Control-clicking something to invoke the contextual menu.
With regard to menu commands, I use the convention of separating each menu command with this cute arrow,??. For example, I tell you to choose Lightroom Classic???Quit Lightroom (File???Exit for Windows) to quit. You can also quit the program by pressing ???+Q (Ctrl+Q for Windows).
Icons Used in This Book
Scattered throughout this book you find some nifty little icons that point out bits of information that are especially useful, important, or noteworthy.
You see this icon the most. I include many tips to help you get the most from each aspect of the program.
There aren't many of these (fortunately). I only use them when there's a chance you might lose data if you aren't careful.
Whenever a certain piece of information isn't particularly intuitive - but very important to keep in mind - I add this icon to help it stand out.
This icon indicates a heads-up for those few places where I need to deal with some of the more technical aspects of the software.
Beyond the Book
Like every For Dummies book, this one comes with a free Cheat Sheet that brings together some of the most commonly needed information for people struggling with Lightroom Classic. Turn to this for a handy list of shortcuts, a closeup of what's included around image thumbnails, all the tools available on the Library Toolbar, and what to do when things go wrong. To get the Cheat Sheet, head for
www.dummies.com and, using the Search box, search for Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic For Dummies Cheat Sheet.
Where to Go from Here
If you're just starting out, my advice to you is to visit Part 1 sooner rather...