Why I’ve used Adobe Bridge for so long…
For the longest time, I’ve tried to figure out how Lightroom 3 could fit into my workflow. Like many commercial photographers that I know, I’ve been a long time user of Adobe Bridge. Why? Because it’s simple and it works. If you put your images in organized folders it’s easy to incorporate Bridge into your workflow.
I come from a very organized and structured file system that I’ve developed over the course of my years as a photographer. This is one reason that I’ve stuck with Bridge for such a long time. It sees folders in their original location on your hard drive. So if you’re organized with your files, you know exactly where your images reside on your hard drive and what folders go where. All you have to do is simply navigate to those folders inside of Bridge’s interface.
Every photographer’s workflow is different. Especially when it comes to file management software such as Bridge, Lightroom, Aperture, etc. Some photographers may prefer creating a giant Lightroom catalogue and putting every image they shoot within it, adding keywords and creating collections. That’s fine and dandy, but a huge catalogue of images can get confusing, and not to mention, slow your computer way the hell down.
Here’s why I really wanted to use Lightroom
What really got my attention about Lightroom was the interface. The fact that you can brand the interface to look like a proprietary piece of software for your business is very intriguing. Not to mention, it’s a great tool for creating web galleries, slide shows and converting RAW and Photoshop files to jpegs or tiffs for output printing all from the same software. While Bridge has a lot of the same features, I think Lightroom simplifies things and makes life easier for a working photographer.
What took me a while to understand about Lightroom was the fact that you have to create a catalogue of images, in order to work on anything. When you create a new catalogue, Lightroom makes a file that lives on you hard drive in a specific location. It accesses that catalogue file upon opening Lightroom’s interface. When I started using Lightroom a couple of years ago, I thought that every time I had a shoot and wanted to use Lightroom, I had to add those images to my existing catalogue. Every time you add images, your catalogue becomes bigger….and slower.
So where on earth am I going with all of this? Here’s the deal, if you are organized with your file structure you can still utilize Lightroom in your workflow. Instead of creating one giant catalogue of images….(here’s the KEY CONCEPT) create a catalogue for each job that you shoot. So inside of a file folder (which we’ll call “Commercial Job 100”) we will have several folders inside of the “Commercial Job 100” folder. In this folder, you will make a new folder and call it “CJ100 LRCatalogue” So here is what it would look like: “Commercial Job 100” > “CJ100 LRCatalogue,” “DNG’s,” “PSD’s,” “Output,” and “Web.”
Creating a Lightroom catalogue for each job that you shoot will do a few things for you. Most importantly, is that photographers can take advantage of Lightroom’s awesome interface and tools. The second is you can keep your catalogue file size down which means you aren’t waiting forever for Lightroom to process images and update files. And lastly, you are still utilizing a file structure similar to a Bridge user. The only difference is that inside of your job folder, you are adding a folder (Lightroom Catalogue) that contains all the info that Lightroom needs to function properly.