The tenth and last step for improving your workflow is: Delete your rejects so that only the images worth keeping and working on are in your catalog. You can use the flag or star attributes to rate your images, delete the “bad” ones, and filter the view so you are only viewing the “good” images.
There are two good reasons for dumping your bad images: (1) It will save space on your hard drive; and (2) it will streamline your workflow so you are only working on your best images and can more easily find the image that you want when you want it. The difficulty is deciding what to keep and what to throw out. I suggest that you set up some guidelines and a process and, while you can make exceptions, don’t make them very often.
Here’s one way to select the images to discard and keep:
- Step 1: Select the first image in the filmstrip and go to loupe view (press the Enter/Return key or the E key).
- Step 2: Hide the two sidebars, the filmstrip, and the module picker by pressing Shift-Tab, i.e., while holding down the Shift key, press and release the Tab key.
- Step 3: Press the CAPS LOCK key.
- Step 4: Assign a pick or reject flag or no flag at all to the image in loupe view. Click the P key to assign a pick flag, the X key to assign a reject, or the right arrow key to assign no flag. Whether a flag is even assigned and which flag toassignis based on the following guidelines:
- Assign a reject flag to: (i) accidental shots, e.g., images of your feet; (ii) images so far under or over exposed that they can’t be saved; (iii) heavily blurred and out-of-focus images; (iv) uninteresting and/or boring images; (v) badly composed images that can’t be fixed with a LITTLE judicious cropping; (vi) repeats; and (vii) other images just not worth keeping.
- Assign a pick flag only to images that are properly exposed and composed (a little cropping is okay), focus is in the right place, and the depth of field is right for the image. These images are the ones that you will edit and show to friends and colleagues. If you wouldn’t show an image to your friends or colleagues, it doesn’t deserve a pick flag.
- Don’t assign a pick or reject flag to images that don’t fall into one of the categories above. These are images that you may or may not want later but are worth keeping around.
- Assign a pick flag to an image regardless of the image quality if it sentimental or is otherwise important to you.
- Step 5: Repeat Step 4 until you have rated every image. If you have set the CAPS LOCK key, when you press P to assign a pick flag or X to assign a reject flag to an image, Lightroom will assign the pick or reject flag to the image and display the next image in the filmstrip. This saves you from having to click on two keys, one to assign the appropriate flag and one to advance to the next image.
- Step 6: Show the two sidebars, the filmstrip, and module picker by pressing Shift-Tab.
- Step 7: Delete the images that have been assigned a reject flag. First, go to grid view (click the grid view icon in the toolbar or the G key), display the filter bar (if it isn’t already visible) by clicking on the backslash (\) key, click on “Attribute” in the filter bar to display the attribute filter, and then click on the reject flag icon in that bar. This will filter your view of the images, displaying only the images that you assigned a reject flag in the image preview area and filmstrip. Take one more look at the images to make sure you aren’t deleting an image worth keeping and, if you find one, click on the U key to unflag the image. Finally, press Ctrl/Cmd-A to select all the images and click on the Delete key to delete the images. Remember to click on None in the filter bar to turn off the attribute filter.
- Step 8: Review the images that have been assigned a pick flag. First, go to grid view (click the grid view icon in the toolbar or the G key), display the filter bar (if it isn’t already visible) by clicking on the backslash (\) key, click on “Attribute” in the filter bar to display the attribute filter, and then click on the reject flag icon in that bar. This will filter your view of the images, displaying only the images that you assigned a pick flag in the image preview area and filmstrip. Take one more look at the images to make sure you haven’t accidentally assigned too many images a pick flag and, if you find one, click on the U key to unflag the image.
You can also use the star attribute to edit your images. Follow Steps 1 through 3 and, instead of assigning a pick or peject flag to each image, assign one star (click on the number 1 key) to each image that isn’t a reject then filter for all the images with one star and go through them again, assigning two stars (click on the number 2 key) to images that are better than average. You can repeat this process up to three more times, i.e, assigning three stars, four stars, and five stars in order during each subsequent pass, to whittle down the number of images. Once all the images have been rated, delete the images that have no stars assigned to them and skip Step 8.
Whether you used the flags or the stars to rate your images, you can easily view only your best images by filtering the view based on the Pick flag or whatever number of stars you used to designate the best of the best.
Again, it can’t be stressed enough that once your images are imported in Lightroom that images should only be deleted, moved, and renamed in Lightroom and new folders should only be created and renamed within Lightroom. Otherwise, Lightroom will lose track of your images and you will need to help Lightroom find them.
Editor’s Note: In early May, Brian started a series of ten posts each outlining one or more simple but small things you can do to speed up your Lightroom workflow. This is the eighth post in that series; the first post was about how to efficiently manipulate Lightroom’s interface to reduce clutter; the second about the improving your efficiency inside Lightroom by using context menus; the third about how to name folders; the fourth about how to name image files; the fifth about using keyboard shortcuts; the sixth about using keywords to quickly find images; the seventh about using collections to organize your images; the eighth about using filter presets and smart collections to help keep your catalog clean; and the ninth about the why you should always use Lightroom to delete, move, or rename image files.