How to Use Lightroom Target Collections – Daily Thoughts 013

Today’s post might be covering something that is common knowledge for those of you that have been using Lightroom for quite a while — how to use Lightroom Target Collections to pick the best photos from a shoot. It took me a couple months after initially using the software to learn it, so maybe there are a few of you newbies out there that’ll draw some value from it.

There’s nothing more daunting after finishing a day of shooting than having to go through and trim the fat. This is the process where you get rid of out-of-focus or poorly exposed shots and settle on the good selections to continue on with post-processing.

The first thing you’ll need to do is import all of your photos. If you missed my post on “The Power of Lightroom Import Presets” go ahead and give that a read for an extra tip. Once you’ve got all of your photos imported, the next step is to create a collection for the event, trip, shoot, or whatever describes your photos.. When creating the collection, give it a name and tick the checkbox that says “Set as target collection”. This tells Lightroom that you want to focus on adding photos to this specific collection.

Now that you’ve got a collection created, open up the first photo you imported and kiss the mouse goodbye. From now on, you’ll be using the keyboard to quickly get through your shoot. Here are the keys you’ll want to be hovering over: Z, X, B, and P. Oh, and of course the left and right arrow keys.

If you want to mark a photo to be deleted, smash that X key. If you want to add a photo to your selects and place it in the collection you just created, smash the B key. If you aren’t sure whether or not you like the photo enough, I suggest to smash the P key and flag the photo so you can check back later to make your final decision.

So what’s with the Z key then? The Z key quickly zooms into the photo, allowing you to check if you nailed the focus. Be aware that you might have to wait briefly for a photo to load full resolution depending on your import settings.

Using a combo of these four keys while scrolling through photos has saved me so much time and allowed me to get through all of my imported photos in record time. Since, I am getting a faster post-processing turnaround time, this has come in handy for impressing clients when I deliver sooner than expected.

If you want to take things a step further, you can also assign ratings to each of your photos using keys 1 through 5. By marking your best photos with 5 stars (the 5 key), you can export all of these to send to your client as a preview of what they can expect to see. However, sending them all the best ones might leave them underwhelmed by the rest, so maybe you should mix in some 3’s and 4’s too.

If you weren’t aware of this technique, let me know how you like it or if you have some more shortcuts for the way you work send them my way. I know there’s still secrets I’m unaware of out there!

Until tomorrow,


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