Tam Nguyen Photography

New York Beauty and Fashion Photographer

My Lightroom Post-Production Process, Part 1: Importing & Selecting

Posted on October 15, 2011 in Photography, Tips

My Lightroom Post-Production Process, Part 1: Importing & Selecting

I have seen a lot of Lightroom post-production processes by other photographers, and I have developed a method of my own over the years as well. Today, I thought I’d share with you guys how *I* do it. I’m not saying this is the most absolutely good and correct way, but I hope it’ll give you some useful insights or tips. Take it with a grain of salt.

First, let me start by saying that this isn’t a Lightroom tutorial; so I’m assuming you guys already have a good knowledge of how to use Lightroom. Now, without any further ado, let’s dive into it, shall we?


The very first thing I do when I get home after a shoot is to immediately copy all the photos from my cards to my internal hard drive. I don’t know about you, but I’m very nervous about the photos being on my cards. Not until everything is transferred to my computer then I don’t feel like the photoshoot is actually complete. Once the photos are copied, I fire up Lightroom and synchronize the folder. This is when I have a preset of general meta data to apply to the entire set. ┬áThe data includes basic information like my name, copyright, and website etc. On top of that, I’ll apply a few broad keywords that are appropriate to the set, such as “wedding”, “couple”, “engagement”, or “macro” etc.

Once everything is done being imported, I check to see if the photos’ captured times are in sync, if not, then I’ll sync them by editing their meta data. If you’re not sure how to this, check out the video I posted here. It’s one of the most useful tools I’ve discovered recently.


Now that everything has been imported correctly, I run through the set at least 4 (yes, that’s four) times to weed out the bad ones. The tool I use for this step is the Star Rating scheme.

One Star: this is my first and quick run through the batch. During this run, I get rid of all the ones that are obviously blurry, too dark, too bright, or badly composed. Some times I do keep the bleep-bloops just for fun, but that doesn’t happen very often. If I have a few shots that look similar due to “machine gunning”, I keep them all if they look equally okay.

Two Star: on the second run, I use the “Fill” zooming feature to get a bit closer to the images. This helps me get rid of the blurry ones that weren’t so obvious seen by the first run. I also pay a closer attention to the compositions. If things like hands, legs, feet, heads, or whatever it may be, are being cut off, they won’t survive this time around.

Three Star: now is the time to zoom in at 1:1 ratio to see if there are any visible defects on each image. Again, all blurry images are gone. If there are more than one image that look similar, I pick out the one that looks best. Sometimes a very subtly different smile hand gesture can make a huge difference. If I’m working with a client, these 3-star photos are the ones I sent to the client to proof.

Four Star: these are the ones that I particularly like more than the rest. These are the ones I suggest my client to pick. If there isn’t a client, these are the ones I will most likely edit.

Five Star: during editing, if I find the image to really jump out, I will mark it as five star. 5-stars will have a great chance of being in my portfolio somewhere; or they’ll be on a list of potential-to-be-printed.

So that’s it guys. This is how my importing and selecting process goes. Make sure to stay tuned for the second part of this series. I will be talking about the steps I generally take when editing an individual image. In the meantime, feel free to drop your comments or suggestions below.

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