It's been about 3-4 months that I jumped into professional photography/photo-editing. And I love it this new skill I'm acquiring. The only issue is I am strongly frustrated by my photo-editing workflow, and no one seem to have a real answer on how to fix it.

Like every photographer (I guess), I use both Lightroom and Photoshop for photo-editing and here is my workflow.

  1. Import .CR2 file into Lightroom.
  2. Create virtual copy.
  3. Exposure and colour correction adjustment.

So far everything is fine. Then when I:

  1. Right-click on a file virtual copy and Edit in Photoshop.

The world stops. The file is imported into Photoshop and the size increases by 5 to 10 MB, which makes the document end up around 30 to 40 MB in size. And the more I retouch the picture, the more the file size increases drastically. And when I'm done with retouching, The document can end up at 600 MB easily, with the scratch disk marking 3 to 4 GB. And as you can imagine it sometimes makes my computer slow down, freeze, or shutdown once or twice during the whole edit. I can literally feel the heaviness of the work.

I have 16 GB RAM, an Intel i7, and an NVIDIA 820M dedicated graphics card. And I only meet this issue when I'm using DaVinci Resolve, and that I can understand. But Photoshop?

Is this behaviour normal? Am I doing something wrong in my workflow? Is there a better way?

  • \$\begingroup\$ The canonical Photoshop optimization advice is in Preferences under Performance, reduce "Cache Levels" to 1 and under File Handling, set Image Previews to Never Save. If you can manage, have a SSD you don't actively use (i.e. not the boot drive or the standard documents drive) and have that be your scratch disk. You can also check how much RAM Photoshop will use, also in Preferences under performance. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 8, 2016 at 20:59

1 Answer 1


Yes. This is normal behaviour.

If you use multiple layers, each time you create a new layer and edit that layer, it stores a whole copy of that layer rather than just modifying the existing layer. So If your original layer in photoshop was 5mb, and you have 10 additional copies of it. It will now be 55mb worth of data being saved. The more layers the bigger it will be. I am unsure about the effects of adjustment layers and new 'blank' layers which is sampling the layer below.

The reason this doesn't happen in LR is because LR doesn't edit/damage the original image everything is meta data, and then applies your changes 'over the top' of the image. Unlike PS.

How to reduce file size in PS, look at storing less layers, merge layers where applicable and remove older layers lower down the stack that are no longer required.


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