I use Lightroom for my entire workflow now. One of the keys to remember about Lightroom (LR) is that it is more than just processing it is also a management program. So that not only does it allow you to process your images, it allows you to search your images later quickly and easily based on various criteria. I have been tweaking my workflow over the past few years and have come to a solution, especially with the new Publish feature in LR that seems to make this very quick and easy.
A point to remember is that this workflow applies whether JPG or RAW as LR can handle both easily.
Below is an edit from my blog post about my workflow
- Go out and take pictures.
Sometimes I use multiple cameras at the same location, a point and shoot, a DSLR, and even heavens no – a cellphone camera
- Return to the computer with flash cards full of images.
- Load images into Adobe Lightroom, keeping the same file names the camera assigned.
However the images are grouped into directories by year – month – day. More about that later.
- Take the original JPG files and upload them to my SmugMug account in a non-public area of my site for backup/safety purposes.
- Convert RAW images to JPG with no processing and upload to SmugMug at high resolution for backup/safety purposes.
- Go through and start culling images in Lightroom. Do any needed processing, captioning, and keywording.
- The keeper JPG images get published to SmugMug in the appropriate location using the service built into Lightroom typically.
- The keeper RAW images are exported to SmugMug in the appropriate location using the service built into Lightroom typically.
The culling process is very quick as is the keywording. For that what I do is use the X key to mark something as a reject, P for a pick, U for unmarked and have LR set to advance after assigning a flag. This advancing can be done through a menu option or having the caps lock engaged.
For keywording, I use two approaches. If all the images are from the same event, I will have that keyword added during the import. If I want to tag people (you mentioned taking pictures of family and friends) I will then use the Paint Keyword tool in the Library module of LR to assign the keywords. This step while seemingly small means that in three years when I am looking for a picture I can use the search tools to find an image based on data, event, person, or other keyword.
Lightroom will also display the camera information that is stored within the image, so you can search by that such as looking for all images taken in January 2009 of Chloe (our dog) with a PowerShot at the Dog park. Lightroom can then return that. In addition LR can print this information out on contact sheets or other prints if configured as such.
Now in terms of processing there are some powerful features in there for assigning the same processing quickly to multiple images. The example I use is shooting something under fluorescent lights and not setting the WB correctly. In LightRoom I can adjust WB of a RAW image. I can then take that one image and apply the corrections I made to it to selected images. So if the entire batch of photos I just imported need the same correction I can do it once and apply across the batch.
If you want to do more retouching, such as cropping, red eye correction, spot healing ... etc. there are tools in there for that, as well as lens correction.
Coupling that with the Publish features it has become almost transparent all the things that are actually happening. I don't have to think about publishing or deleting or updating photos on my SmugMug site, LR takes care of it when I say sync.
The biggest single suggestion I have is try the 30 day free trial and look at Adobe's online help and video tutorials.