1. Photo & Video
  2. Post-Processing

The Ultimate Guide to Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2

Scroll to top
Read Time: 30 mins

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 is a standalone photo management application geared specifically towards photographers. Lightroom offers a large number of tools designed to help you at every step of the way during the digital darkroom process. This in-depth tutorial will help you familiarise yourself with the Lightroom interface as well as develop an efficient digital darkroom workflow.

1. Introduction

Before Lightroom, my workflow consisted of organizing my photos in a folder with Adobe Bridge and taking any ones that required further editing or adjustments into Photoshop. This became a problem once I started doing portrait shoots because I found myself faced with sometimes hundreds of images that just needed simple adjustments made. This is where Lightroom shines.

Not only does Lightroom offer many of the same organization and management features as Bridge, it also offers Camera Raw processing and nondestructive photo editing adjustments all in one application, with the ability to make further adjustments in Photoshop if necessary.

In this tutorial, I’m going to walk you through Lightroom’s different modules and features to help you get started.

2. First Impressions

When running Lightroom for the first time, one of the things you may notice is that the interface looks a lot different than some of the other Adobe programs you may be familiar with.

lightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutorial

3. The Interface - Key Areas

The Lightroom interface is divided into a couple of key areas: The Module Picker, The Panels, The Filmstrip, and the Main Content Area.

The Module Picker, located at the top right of your screen, is used to navigate between the different modules available in Lightroom. Each module will be explained further later on in the tutorial.

lightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutorial

The panels are located on both sides as well as the bottom of the screen. These provide access to different functions and information within Lightroom. Each panel block (top, left, right, bottom) can be hidden individually by clicking the small triangle next to it. (i.e. the small triangle on the left of the left panel block hides the left panels)

lightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutorial

The Filmstrip is the panel located at the bottom of the screen. It allows you to cycle through thumbnails of your photos regardless of what module you’re in. It also provides access to:

lightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutorial
  • Main Window/Secondary display viewing modes – Allows you to change the viewing mode, your Primary display, as well as use a secondary display for fullscreen or windowed viewing in the Grid, Loupe, Compare, Survey, and Slideshow viewing modes.
  • Library Grid – Displays your Library in the grid view. If you are currently browsing another module, it will take you back to the Library. Can also be done using the shortcut key (G).
  • Viewing mode navigation – If you’ve been using multiple viewing modes (or switched to one by accident) these arrows allow you to cycle between them.
  • Location/Info – Shows your current location in the Catalog, Folders, or Collections, as well as the number of images you currently have selected and the name of the file that you’re currently viewing.

The filmstrip also contains the filter controls, which let you selectively display images based on color label, star rating and flagging status. The Custom Filter drop down menu also allows you to choose preset filters as well as save your own. The switch to the right of the Custom Filter dropdown allows you to toggle the filters on/off.

Lastly, the thumbnail size in the Film Strip can be modified by moving your mouse to the top of the Film Strip and dragging up or down once the cursor changes to a two-sided arrow.

The Main Content Area is located in the center of the screen and can be broken down into two separate parts; the actual Content Area, and the Toolbar underneath it. What will be seen in both of these areas depends on what module you’re in.

Before we dive into the modules, I’d like to take a second to remind you that at any point in this tutorial, you can access the shortcuts for your current module by clicking the Help menu at the top of your screen and selecting the relevant Module Shortcuts or pressing Ctrl+/ (Cmd+/).

lightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutorial

4. Library Module - Overview

The Library Module is where the organization and management of your library of photos will take place.

Navigator Panel

The Navigation panel works a lot like the navigator in Photoshop. It provides a large thumbnail of the currently selected image or any image that you hover over in the Film Strip. The Fit and Fill options at the top of the panel allow you to choose whether you want the whole image to fit in the window, or whether you want to fill the window with as much of the image as possible. The remaining options offer different zoom ratios for viewing the image (1:1, 1:2, etc.)

If you are currently zoomed in on an image, the Navigator displays a box around the region you’re currently zoomed in on. This box can be dragged to zoom in on another region of the image.

lightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutorial

Catalog Panel

Every photo that you import into Lightroom becomes a part of your catalog. This options listed in this panel are pretty self explanatory.

lightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutorial
  • The All Photographs option will display every photo in your catalog.
  • The Quick Collection is a collection that photos can be added/removed from on-the-fly. Pressing the B key will toggle the Quick Collection status of a photo or selection of photos. These can also be saved later to a separate Collection in case you wish to use the Quick Collection for something else.
  • The Previous Import option will allow you to view all of the photos from your most recent import.
  • Lastly, the Updated Photos option works a lot like the Previous Import, but for photos that were recently updated/modified.

Folders Panel

The Folders Panel displays the directory structure of all the photos in your catalog similar to how your operating system’s file browser would.


The Histogram Panel is used to evaluate the distribution of lights and darks in your image. I won’t get into this in detail as we've covered the topic in a previous tutorial.

Quick Develop

The Quick Develop Panel allows you to make image adjustments in 1 stop and 1/3 stop increments. For more options and a higher degree of control, use the tools available in the Develop module instead.

Keywording & Keyword List Panels

Keywording in Lightroom lets you tag images (or groups of images) with words that you can later use to reference and sort them with. The first box in the Keywording Panel will display any keywords currently assigned to the selected photos. If a keyword exists on only some of the selected photos, it will be marked with an asterisk (*). Keywords can be added by entering them in the “Click here to add keywords” field. Previously used keywords can be assigned by clicking on them under the Keyword Suggestions or Keyword Set categories at the bottom of the panel.

The Keyword List panel is especially useful in the Grid View because it allows you to drag a selected photo to a keyword, as well as displaying the number of photos currently assigned to a keyword.

Metadata Panel

Metadata is information that your camera records when an image is captured such as ISO speed, Focal Length, Exposure, as well as the Make and Model of your camera. This information is available in this panel as well as some editable fields like Title, Caption, and Copyright.

Filter Bar (\)

Although hidden by default, the Filter Bar can be displayed by pressing the backslash (\) key. This is a very powerful component of Lightroom as it allows you to sort by Rating, Flag status, Color Label, and a number of Metadata properties.

Library Toolbar (T) Functions

lightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutorial

Your toolbar may not look like the one above, as all the functions are not enabled by default. They can be toggled on and off by selecting them with the triangle on the right side of the toolbar. I will briefly describe the purpose of each button in the order that they appear in the image above.

  • Grid View (G) – The photos are arranged on the screen in a grid format.
  • Loupe View (E) – One photo will be displayed at a time.
  • Compare View (C) – The Compare View allows you to view two selected photos side-by-side. This is particularly useful when making sure your exposures are consistent across multiple photos in a series.
  • Survey View (N) – This view works a lot like the Compare View but isn’t limited to two photos.
  • Painter – When in Grid View, the Painter allows you to select an attribute (Color Label, Metadata, Rotation, Keywords) and apply it to other photos by clicking and dragging your mouse across the photos you wish to apply the attribute to.
  • Sorting – When in Grid View, the sort option allows you to specify a criteria to view your images by such as Capture Time, Label Color, and Added Order. Clicking the a/z icon toggles between Ascending and Descending order.
  • Flagging – Lets you “Pick” (P) or “Reject” (X) an image. This is very helpful when working with a client who requests prints because it allows you to keep track of which photos the client approves/doesn’t approve of.
  • Rating (0-5) – The rating system works similar to how it does in Adobe Bridge. You can give any photo a star rating of 1-5 stars. The 0-5 number keys can be used as shortcuts to apply ratings to a photo.
  • Colored Labels – The labeling system works very similar to the Rating system. I will explain how I use them in my workflow later on. The 6-9 number keys can be used as shortcuts for Red, Yellow, Green, and Blue respectively. There isn’t currently a shortcut for the Purple label.
  • Rotate – These arrows allow you to rotate an image/selected images clockwise and counter-clockwise in 90º increments.
  • Navigation – The navigation arrows can be used to cycle between images. The Left and Right arrow keys on the keyboard can be used as well.
  • Slideshow – This button launches a fullscreen slideshow of your photos.
  • Thumbnail Size – When in the Grid View, this slider allows you to increase or decrease the size of the thumbnails.
  • Info – The Filename of the currently selected image is displayed in this box.

5. Library Module - Importing Photos

Now that you’re familiar with where things are located in the Library Module, let's go over importing images into Lightroom and organizing them.

Import Dialog

There are a couple of different ways to access the Import Photos Dialog in Lightroom. If you choose to do it from the File Menu, you will see three options: Import from Disk, Import from Device, and Import from Catalog. The first two options are pretty self explanatory. The Catalog option allows you to import an existing Lightroom Catalog into your current one. For example, when I purchased a new computer, I exported my Catalog from my old computer to an external harddrive and later imported that Catalog into Lightroom on my new computer.

Using the “Import…” button at the bottom of the left panel is the method that I use most frequently. It provides quicker access to the first two options mentioned above.

lightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutorial

If a removable storage device such as your camera’s memory card is detected, it will allow you to import from that device. Otherwise, you will have the option of importing from a folder as usual.

lightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutorial

To import a whole folder of images, select the folder and click the button on the bottom right corner labeled “Import All Photos in Selected Folder”

lightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutorial

I won’t explain the File Handling options here since they are pretty self-explanatory. Lightroom just needs to know whether you want to copy all your photos into a new folder (usually your Operating System’s default pictures folder) or leave them in the folder where they currently reside. If you’re copying from a device like a memory card, you should only have the first option. You will also be given a couple of other options in terms of your folder naming structure.

One really useful feature here is the ability to have Lightroom skip over any files that already exist in your Catalog. This can be turned off by unchecking the “Don’t re-import suspected duplicates” box. There is also the ability to automatically eject your card after importing.

The File Naming section allows you to choose the naming convention for your photo.

Under “Information to Apply” you can assign keywords to the group of photos you’re importing as well as apply Develop Presets and Metadata.

Located to the right side of the dialog is the Preview Pane. Thumbnails of the photos to import will be shown in this area and you can specify which ones you want to be imported by checking the boxes next to them or by unchecking the box next to the date on the left side of the screen.

Unchecking the “Show Preview” box in the bottom left corner of the window may speed things up a bit when importing a large number of images.

When you’re done with this screen, click the Import button the begin importing your images.

6. Library Module – Organizing Photos

After importing all of my photos, I usually move on to organizing them. If you’ve just finished importing, you should now be in the “Previous Import” portion of the Catalog. The easiest way for me to keep track of my photos in Lightroom is to create Collections for them.

Collections & Collection Sets

Collections & Collection Sets are essential to keeping a well organized catalog. If you’re wondering what the difference between the two are, think of Collections as individual photo albums. You might have one for all of your family photos, one for school, and one of your fine art photography. If Collections can be viewed as photo albums, then a Collection Set can be looked at as the box you store your albums in. You can create a Collection Inside of your collection set, but you can’t create a Collection Set inside of your Collection. Here’s an example of how mine are currently set up:

lightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutorial

While you’re still on the Previous Import screen, select all your photos (Ctrl/Cmd+A) and click the arrow on the Collections panel. Name your Collection and make sure that the “Include selected photos option is checked.

lightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutorial

Congratulations! You just created your first Lightroom Collection. Now that you’ve Imported and created a Collection for your photos, where do you go from here? Usually after creating my collection, I browse through my photos one by one and choose which ones I want to use and discard by using Lightroom’s Color Labels.

Start off by switching to the Loupe View (E). Once in the Loupe View, I scroll through my photos using the arrow keys on my keyboard and assign my labels using the number key shortcuts. By default Lightroom’s Color Labels are slightly different than how I use them when organizing my photos. Here is the default:

lightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutorial

When I’m labeling my photos, the system I use is this:

lightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutorial

While these may appear very similar, I’ll elaborate more on how I use the labels. When cycling through my photos, if I come across one that I absolutely have no desire to use, I’ll immediately assign it a Red label (6). If I come across a photo that isn’t necessarily a bad photo, but it will definitely require some extra work before I’m ready to label it as a good photo, I’ll apply a Yellow label to it, as I’m still unsure about using it. If I come across a photo that is a keeper, I’ll apply a Green label to it. An easy way to remember that is by looking at the labels like a stoplight: Red means no, Yellow means proceed, but with caution, and Green means good to go.

Blue labels are slightly more complicated for me. Because I do a lot of portrait work, my Blue labels sometimes vary between shoots. When working with clients, after finding out which images they like, if there are any that need retouching (skin smoothing, etc), I’ll usually apply a Blue label and a Star Rating of 4 (4). When I finish the retouching, I’ll change that Star Rating from 4 to 5 (5) as a way to keep track of the retouching progress. A lot of this is all personal preference and in the end it’s just a matter of finding out what works best for you and the way your mind works. I just think this is a good base to get started from.

After applying my Color Labels, I move on to the Develop module to begin making adjustments to my photos.

7. Develop Module

Because this tutorial is aimed at helping you improve your workflow as well as get acquainted with Lightroom, I’m going to spend more time talking about the key areas of these modules and less time explaining things that you probably already know (i.e. what the brightness and contrast sliders do).

Left Panels

Let’s take a look at the new panels this module has to offer. Starting with the left block of panels, you’ll notice that the Navigator window hasn’t changed.

lightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutorial

Located below the Navigator window is the Presets panel. This panel contains a number of preset adjustments that you can apply to your images. If you move your mouse over any of the presets you’ll notice that the Navigator will show you a preview of it before applying it. Feel free to experiment with some of these but don’t go overboard. Any adjustments that you make to your images manually can be saved in this panel under “User Presets” as well, which is very helpful if you find yourself making a lot of the same adjustments.

lightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutorial

Below the Presets panel, you’ll find the Snapshots and History panel. The Snapshots allows you to save a “snapshot” of your current History state. The History panel works the same way it does in other applications, allowing you to go “go back in time” through the changes that you’ve made since the initial import.

At the bottom of the History panel, there are two buttons: Copy and Paste. Clicking on Copy will prompt you with a dialog box that allows you to select settings from the current image, which you can then paste onto your other images using the Paste button.

lightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutorial

Right Panels

You may recognize the Histogram from the previous module, but located directly beneath it are a couple of tools that I want to go over.

Crop & Straighten Tool (R)

The Crop Tool in Lightroom is, in my opinion, better than any of the other ones that I’ve used to date. Upon clicking on it, you’ll notice the crop tool also provides you with a grid, divided into thirds. The rule of thirds is a compositional rule used in all forms of visual art. I won’t cover it in-depth in this tutorial, but there are plenty of resources available for it online. When using one of these tools, the settings for them will appear directly below it. These settings allow you to adjust the angle of the image as well as choose whether or not you want the cropped image to maintain the original aspect ratio or a custom/preset one.

When you are done experimenting, you can click the Reset buttons to undo the changes, or click the Close button to apply them. The best thing about this tool is that the crop is non-destructive, meaning at any time within Lightroom you can click the Crop & Straighten tool and return the image to it’s original form.

lightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutorial

Spot Removal (N)

This is a more recent feature in Lightroom that has helped me out a lot. Instead of taking an image into Photoshop just to remove a pimple, or speck of dust on my camera’s sensor, I can now use the Spot Removal tool. The spot removal tool allows you to select an area that you want removed and automatically samples nearby pixels to make it appear as the spot was never there.

The size of the brush in the Spot removal tool can be adjusted via the slider in the settings, or by using the left and right bracket keys ( [, ] ) on your keyboard to decrease and increase the size respectively.

Red Eye Correction

Used to remove red pupils from photos. I won’t explain this tool in depth, as clicking on it provides on-screen instructions.

Graduated Filter (M)

This tool allows you to drag out what is essentially a gradient overlay that can be used to not only control exposure but saturation and contrast as well.

lightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutorial

A very practical use for this would be using the tool with the Effect set to Exposure and a negative amount in order to darken the sky in a landscape photo without affecting the ground. It can also be used to have a portion of the image fade from being full color on one end to saturated on the other. Experiment with these settings to find interesting ways to enhance your photos.

Adjustment Brush (K)

The adjustment brush allows you to paint a mask over your photo and apply a particular effect to only the mask area.

lightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutorial

Using this tool with the effect set to Exposure allows you to burn and dodge an image in specific areas as you would in Photoshop.

Basic Adjustments

The Color and Grayscale treatment options at the top allow you to quickly switch between the two while making your adjustments. I won’t cover the rest of these sliders in detail since they’re self explanatory, but I did want to go over the White Balance Selector (W).

If you’ve ever taken a photo and forgot to set your white balance, or used auto white balance and the color was still not quite right, then this tool will be a god-send. Click the Eyedropper or press W to lift the selector and drag it over to an area in your image that should be white, or a neutral color like gray. Looking at the Navigator will give you a preview of what the image will look like if you select the area you’re currently in.

lightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutorial

You can further fine-tune the image’s color temperature by using the Temp and Tint sliders underneath.

Tone Curve

The Tone Curve panel allows you to lighten and darken the highlights, lights, darks, and shadows in your image. Clicking the small target icon on the top left will allow you to select an area in the image and click and drag your mouse up or down to lighten/darken that particular tone throughout the image.


This panel allows you to increase the hue, saturation, luminance of each color, even if you’re working in grayscale. Just like in the Tone Curve panel, you can use the target icon at the top left to adjust these values by clicking on a specific color and dragging your mouse up or down.

lightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutorial

The Green and Aqua values were adjusted after clicking and dragging on the green area of the film canister

Split Toning

Split Toning allows you to specify the Hue/Saturation of your highlights and shadows independently of each other. This makes for some interesting effects. When split toning, a pretty common practice is to make the highlights and the shadows complimentary colors (i.e, colors on opposite sides of the color wheel like yellow and violet). Below is an example of what I mean:

lightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutorial

I pushed the values to the extreme here just to demonstrate what I meant, but this is definitely useful in situations where you want to add something extra to the photo or mimic certain film processing techniques. Feel free to experiment with it but don’t overdo it!

Detail Panel

The Detail panel offers a couple of different sliders for sharpening your image and reducing noise. I personally prefer Photoshop’s sharpening tools because I do mine in layers occasionally, but they are very similar in nature. The window at the top of this panel shows you a zoomed in region of the image. Clicking inside this area allows you to change regions using the current area as a starting point. To change to a more specific region in the image, click the icon on the top right and move your cursor to the desired area in the main image area.

lightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutorial


I won’t cover this area in detail since there isn’t much to it, but if you aren’t familiar with Vignettes, it's essentially a way to darken or lighten the corners of your image. It can be a very beautiful effect when paired with the right photo or done very subtly. This is also something that I would recommend using, but not if it’s just for the sake of using it. When used improperly it can be just as bad as any Photoshop filter.

lightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutorial

Camera Calibration

When dealing with RAW files, the Camera Calibration panel is extremely useful if you notice color discrepancies between what you originally saw on the camera and what you may be currently seeing in Lightroom. I would recommend experimenting with these settings and profiles if you’re having issues. I won’t go into this any further since accurate color representation when working in Lightroom is probably more dependent on your display than the software.

lightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutorial


The Previous button allows you to take changes made to the Previous image and apply them to the current image. This is very useful when you’re editing a number of photos that were taken under the same conditions such as photos from a portrait shoot.

8. Develop Module – Editing Externally

Although this isn’t actually limited to the Develop module, I’ll cover it here since this is the point where I usually make use of this feature. By right-clicking (Cmd+click) an image, whether in the Film Strip, Library Grid View, or the main image area, you have the option to edit it in an external application such as Photoshop.

lightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutorial

9. Slideshow Module

I didn’t originally intend to cover the Slideshow model as it isn’t part of my normal workflow, but it may prove useful to some of you reading this. This module allows you to create a slideshow from the photos that are currently in your Film Strip, selected, or flagged. Similar to the presets in the Develop module, the Slideshow module has a number of templates by default that you can experiment with. The Preview/Play (triangle) and Stop (square) icons on the toolbar allow you to control a preview of your slideshow within the Lightroom window. The Play button located on the bottom of the right panels launches the slideshow in Fullscreen.

The right panels let you customize the look and feel of the slideshow in a variety of ways ranging from background color and music to text overlays.

One particular component that I’d like to shed some light on before continuing is the Identity Plate. In Lightroom, an identity plate is a a lot like a watermark. In the Slideshow, Print, and Web modules you can choose to include this as a way to personalize your work whether it be for your portfolio or a client.

lightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutorial

By clicking on the triangle at the bottom of the “Lightroom” identity plate and then choosing edit, you can select a font for your text-based identity plate, or specify a graphic to use. Once you make these changes, they can be assigned a name and saved for future use by clicking the “Custom” drop-down menu in the bottom left corner and choosing “Save As…”

lightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutorial

When you’ve completed your slideshow, you have the option of using the buttons at the bottom of the left panel to export your images as a series of JPGs or as a PDF Slideshow. The PDF Slideshow option is particularly useful because it can be burned to a CD/DVD and viewed offline. The PDF Slideshow will play automatically when opened in Adobe Acrobat Reader and viewed in Full Screen (In Acrobat: View > Full Screen or Ctrl/Cmd+L)

10. Print Module

If you ever intend to look at your images outside of your computer screen, the Print module will definitely come in handy. As with the Slideshow module, the Print module has a number of templates located in the panel on the left as well as the option on the toolbar to specify whether you want to use the currently selected photos, all the photos in the Film Strip, or flagged photos only.

One option to note is the contact sheet (4x5, 5x8). The contact sheet serves the same purpose it does in traditional darkrooms – it provides us with an opportunity to view our images at a smaller scale before making larger prints. When I’m preparing images for print, this gives me an opportunity to see what the images and colors look like on the paper that I’m going to be printing on.

lightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutorial

The settings on the left offer an amazing amount of flexibility with regard to the page’s grid structure, whether simply adjusting the number of rows on the contact sheet or changing the margins down to one or two millimeters.

Changing the Layout Engine on the top right panel from Contact Sheet/Grid to Picture Package gives even more options. This is extremely useful if you wish to offer prints to a client in a variety of sizes (senior portraits come to mind.)

lightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutorial

As you can see, the customization options in the right panels change depending on what Layout Engine you choose.

Identity plates can also be used in the Print module as well. The opacity and scale is completely adjustable and your Identity Plate can be applied to every single image if you wish.

lightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutorial

The Page Setup/Print options work the same as they do in other programs. I do all of my printing outside of my home so I currently have the Adobe PDF Printer set as my default. This allows me to take the document that I generated in Lightroom and print it from any computer that currently has Acrobat Reader installed - significantly higher than the number of computers you’ll come across running Lightroom.

11. Web Module

While doing portrait work, the Web Module has proven to be an incredibly useful tool. The ability to export images from shoots to a HTML or Flash web gallery is a very effective way to share images with a model/client after the shoot. After I’ve sorted through my images and given them all Color Labels, I use the filter controls on the Film Strip to only display my Green and Yellow picks, as they are my favorites from the shoot. These images are then exported to a Lightroom HTML Gallery and uploaded to my web server.

I use the HTML gallery for this because it generally loads quicker and doesn’t require a plugin like Flash to be displayed. Another convenient thing about the default HTML gallery is that each image is clearly numbered, making it easier for them to explain to me which ones they like.

lightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutorial

The Web module contains a number of templates to help you get started. Similar to how the layout Engine worked in the Print module, the Web module also gives you the ability to choose between a number of options.

I’ve taken the time to upload an example of each of these engines to my web space so that you can see them in action using my same photos from this tutorial. They can be accessed at

The “Preview in Browser…” button below the panels on the left will allow you to launch the gallery in a browser window.

Once again, the customization options on the right panels will vary depending on which layout engine you choose. The Identity plates in this module work the same as in the Print module, with the exception of the positioning being restricted to the top of the page. Changes made in the panels on the right will be visible in the main window but may require some time to process in between changes.

Now that we’ve put together a nice little web gallery, how do we go about getting it online? Lightroom has two ways to approach this.


By choosing the Export option at the bottom of the right panels, you can export all of the gallery’s files to a folder that you specify. After the export is completed, you can use any FTP client to connect to your web space and upload the folder to your site. If you are new to this process, there are a number of videos on YouTube that provide step-by-step tutorials on using FTP clients as well as a number of free web hosting providers that can be found by simply searching for “free web hosting.”

Uploading directly from Lightroom

Lightroom also has the ability to upload directly to your web server from within the application. Clicking the “Custom Settings” and choosing “Edit…” in the Upload Settings panel will allow you to type in your FTP server information as well as store your password. Clicking the “Upload…” button initiates the transfer.

lightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutorial

12. Exporting Images From Lightroom

To minimize confusion earlier in the tutorial, I chose to skip over exporting images from Lightroom. Now that you’ve got a better understanding of the program, we’re going to quickly go over exporting your images.

If you take a second to go back to the Library module, you’ll notice an Export button next to the Import button we used earlier. Clicking it allows us to access Lightroom’s Export options:

lightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutoriallightroom 2 guide tutorial

Export Location

These settings let us choose the folder we wish to export our images to. There is also a checkbox that allows us to add these newly exported files back to our Catalog after we’re done.

File Naming

The same options you were given in terms of naming your files during Import are present once again.

File Settings

This is a pretty important area, as it lets you specify which format you wish to export these images to. I usually shoot in RAW so I use this as a way to export all of my images to a lower resolution JPG when sending them to clients.

Image Sizing

This portion of the export dialog lets you specify the resolution as well as the pixel dimensions of the image you’re exporting.

Output Sharpening

Choose how much sharpening you want applied to your exported image. I generally keep this setting low or disabled all together.


Lightroom allows you to choose what you want to do with these images after they’re exported. This can be an incredibly powerful batch processing tool when combined with Photoshop’s ability to export actions. A practical use for this would be to export an action from Photoshop, such as applying your logo as a watermark, and then using “After Export: Go to Export Actions Now…” to select that exported action and apply your logo to all of your exported images. For more information on how that works, there is an excellent video on YouTube.

13. Conclusion

Since this tutorial serves as a thorough introduction to Lightroom, lets do a quick recap of my workflow just in case you missed something.

Library Module

  • Import photos
  • Create a new Collection using the imported photos
  • Using the Loupe View (E), sort through the photos, applying color labels accordingly

Develop Module

  • Use the Filter options to only display best images (Green/Yellow)
  • Make necessary adjustments (exposure/color correction/spot removal)

Web Module

Create and upload a HTML Gallery for the client to choose favorite images and specify the images they would like to be retouched in Photoshop.

If images need to be retouched in Photoshop, then I will typically do that last and then deliver the images to the client as they are completed.


Hopefully at this point you’re much more comfortable with Lightroom and have a good idea of how to integrate it into your workflow. The way I work might not necessarily be the way you approach things, but hopefully this serves as a good starting point to help you on your way!

Did you find this post useful?
Want a weekly email summary?
Subscribe below and we’ll send you a weekly email summary of all new Photo & Video tutorials. Never miss out on learning about the next big thing.
Start your 7-day free trial*
Start free trial
*All Individual plans include a 7-day free trial for new customers; then chosen plan price applies. Cancel any time.