Lightroom & Smugmug Workflow

Now that I have a new fancy camera, I have been trying to organize my photos better. Over years I have collected about 70GB of photos. It seems a lot to me but apparently there are many people with well over 1000GB of photos. The biggest challenge with so many photos is that it is hard to organize them. Upon several recommendations and some searches on the web, it seems Lightroom is the best software for organizing and managing photos.

Then I want to share my photos in a slightly professional manner. I am still trying to decide between Smugmug, Zenfolio, or just sticking with free social media sites like Facebook or Flickr. But so far I am leaning towards Smugmug because I can customize it a bit and for occasional client work, I have a decent looking website.

I am still refining my workflow to organize my old photos but I wanted to share it, just so it can give someone else some ideas too. If you have any comments, feel free to email me at

Move Old Photos in One Folder

I bought Scott Kelby's The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC Book for Digital Photographers. So following his advice, I am keeping all my photos in one folder. Under that folder I created several folders like Events, Friends, Family, Travel, Personal, Clients, and Old Photos.

Delete Photos

The next steps is to go through 1000s of photos and reject any photo that should have been deleted long time ago. Some bad photos have nostalgic value; I keep those. But anything that is not a decent photo, I delete it.
Lightroom makes this process easy. Under Folders module, I browse to Old Photos, then a subfolder under it. Then I press e & shift+tab for large view of photos. Then I simply use arrow keys to browse photos. Pressing x on a photo would mark it as rejected. I spent about 15-30 minutes a day on this process. Finally, I press control+backspace to permanently delete rejected photos.

Move Photos to Permanent Spot

After I have cleaned up a folder under Old Photos, I move it under appropriate top level folder such as Events. Then I rename folder to something more informative such as 2012 Hina Birthday. I also rename photos with this format: YYYYMMDD-Custom Text-Sequence. This should aid in searching for photos if using Windows Explorer or if browsing outside of Lightroom.

Edit Photos

Next step is to edit photos like crop, straighten, sharpen, adjust exposure etc.

Select Photos for Smugmug

I know a lot of people upload all their photos to Smugmug for backup. But I am using Backblaze for backup. So I don't worry about backing up my photos on Smugmug. But now I have to decide which photos are good enough for public sharing and which should be shared privately.

To be honest, I am still refining this process. I have installed Smugmug plugin in Lightroom, which is actually very helpful.

Folder Structure on Smugmug

Using Lightroom, I created several galleries & folders on Smugmug including:

  • Portfolio - Gallery of my favorite photos.
  • Landscapes - Gallery of my favorite landscape photos.
  • Portraits - Gallery of my favorite portraits photos.
  • Travel - Folder with many galleries (hopefully).
  • Events - Folder with many galleries (hopefully).
  • Private - Unlisted and password protected folder with several subfolders.
    • Friends
    • Family
    • Events
    • Travels
    • Personal
    • Fun
    • etc

Select Photos to be Shared Privately

Now if subfolder has any photos that should be shared privately such as Birthday photos, I will upload almost all of photos in it to a new gallery under correct private subfolder. I haven't be able to decide if gallery should be password protected too or not. I hate to create bunch of unlisted or password protected galleries. But I know many of my friends or family members would not want their photos on the open web. Though I have password on top level folder but some photos should not be shared with every member of family or every friend. Perhaps I should create multiple top level private folders. Or maybe I should just stick with email/Dropbox method of sharing private photos. The problem with this method is that sometimes people lose their photos and then ask for them again and again. Also I want to make it easy for my family & friends to order prints online.

Pick the Best Photos for Public Sharing

Now I pick the best photos and upload to a public gallery. In case of Travel or Events, I create a new gallery per vacation or event.
Once again this part is not well defined. Since I share only the best photos publicly, Travel or Event galleries tend to be sparse. Also I hate duplicating effort to upload photos multiple times.

Not using Collections

So far I haven't figure out how to efficiently use collections. They seems to duplicate efforts. I am essentially maintaining my collections under Smugmug plugin.

The only problem with this approach is that if I switch to another platform for online photos sharing, then I will have to start over with selection process.

This is it for now. As I learn more, I will update this post.

Hello World!

I switched from WordPress to Jekyll/Github pages. I was really happy with WordPress and highly recommend it.

But as a programmer, Github & Markdown is closer to my daily workflow. And some of the features in WordPress are a bit too much for a personal blog. I needed something simple that is mostly focused on writing. My text editor with git seems like the simplest possible solution.

Giorgio Armani: The Man, the Brand, the Empire

Your forties are the moment when you start to become aware. It's just the beginning. I've always believed that to confirm your way of thinking takes time. It takes experimenting. You have to confront different chapters of your life. Maybe I could reproach myself for not thinking enough about the people I had around me. My family. Loves. Memories. I was always here [points to his head], in my work. I guess I didn't think life was so short.

Source: Giorgio Armani: The Man, the Brand, the Empire


Here is a collection of various sites, blogs, forums that I read or follow.


Startup & Business:



Once a Photographer

A few years ago, I had sold all my camera gear. Got a small mirrorless camera instead. I called my photography days over. I did all that mostly to simplify my life and focus on programming and work. But I miss photography. Now I want a new camera.

A New Camera

So now I am looking for a new camera. Now I would really like a full frame camera but I am open to crop cameras too. What I really care about is:

  • A good indoor performance
  • A good fast zoom lens with a range of ~24mm-100mm
  • Inexpensive

I have narrowed down my options but still a lot of research to be done. I listing my options here and I will update this as I do more research.

Sony Alpha a6000

This is the smallest and cheapest camera. It is highly rated. Probably the best mirrorless camera right now.


Camera (body only): $550

Sony 18-105mm F4: $600

Sony 16-70mm F4: $1000

Total estimate cost: $1150 - $1550 - $1750. (more likely $1150).


  1. I already have a couple of lenses that will work with this camera; 50mm f/1.8 Lens & the kit lens of Nex-3N.
  2. Cheapest option.
  3. Small enough to take on vacations.


  1. Slow autofocus in low light due to Contrast Detection.

Sony a7 Full-Frame


Sony a7 Full-Frame: $1300 (Body only), $1600 (with 28-70mm lens, $500 lens).

Sony 24-70mm F4: $1200 - Online reviews indicate it is overpriced and marginally better than kit lens.

Total estimate cost: $1600 - $2500

Nikon D610


Nikon D610: $1500

Nikon 24-85mm f/2.8-4.0: $670 - I want top low light performance

Nikon 24-120mm f/4: $1300

Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8: $1900

Total estimate cost: $2170 - $2800 - $3400

Nikon D750


Nikon D750: $2300 (body only), $3000 (with 24-120mm f/4 lens)

Nikon 24-85mm f/2.8-4.0: $670 - I want top low light performance

Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8: $1900

Total estimate: $3000 - $4200

I like the idea of mirrorless full-frame cameras but I have read that mirrorless camera have difficulty focusing in dark.

UPDATE 1/12/15: Right now, I am leaning to D750 with either 24-70mm lens or 24-120mm. 24-120mm lens is cheaper and has VR, meaning better for movies. 24-70mm would be a perfect low light zoom lens but it lack VR. Movies would be shaky. I wish I could afford both lenses

UPDATE 8/29/15: Finally, I pulled the trigger and bought D750 with 24-70mm lens. Really happy with it.