Lightroom & Smugmug Workflow

Now that I have a new fancy camera, I have tried 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 1000 GB 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.

Move Old Photos in One Folder

I bought Scott Kelby’s The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC Book for Digital Photographers (Affiliate link). 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 sub-folder 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 proper 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:

Select Photos to Share 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 sub-folder. 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 selection process.

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

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