How to Use Lightroom as a Beginner

    May 11 2018

    Have you ever wondered what Lightroom is and how to use it? Well, you're in luck because we're giving you a mini overview about what Lightroom is and how you can utilize it to improve your photographs for Instagram, blog or website - especially if you've never utilized the program before. So, let's get started! Lightroom is a program that allows you to manage and edit your photographs. It's a popular among photographers, influencers, creatives and bloggers. The great thing about Lightroom is that it allows you to not only edit your photographs, but you can also manage and organize your images. You can purchase a subscription to Lightroom by subscribing to Adobe's Creative Cloud. If you'd like, you can buy a subscription to just Lightroom and Photoshop for only $9.99 a month or you can purchase access to all of Adobe's apps for $52.99 a month. Download Lightroom here. There are two versions of Lightroom, All-new Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic CC. For this purpose of this post, we will be discussing Lightroom Classic CC.

    "Lightroom not only allows you to edit your photographs, but you can also manage and organize your images."
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    Getting Started with Lightroom

    After you have installed Lightroom to your computer (after purchasing a subscription of course) you'll want to open the application. When you do this for the first time, you will be prompted to create a catalog. You'll be provided with the opportunity to select exactly where you would like to store your new Lightroom catalog on your computer. What is a catalog? Great question! Essentially, a catalog within Lightroom is a Lightroom specific database file which is a just another way of saying that this is how Lightroom is structured...the catalog is made up of a set of files. Once you have created a catalog - the real fun begins!

    How to Import Your Images

    For the purpose of this post we will be discussing how to import images from your camera. To get started, you'll want to head to the top of your screen and click on "File > Import Photos and Video."
    A new window should appear and this is when you'll want to connect your camera to your computer. Be sure to check that your camera is on so that it shows up within Lightroom. Once you turn your camera on, the name of your camera should pop up on the left hand side of your screen. Click on your camera.
    Select the images you would like to import to Lightroom - any images that you do not want to import should not have a "check" mark near them. If you want to import all of your images from your camera - simply click on "check all" which is located at the bottom of your screen.
    You can also select where you want your photos to be stored by clicking on the section labeled "Destination." Once you're ready, click on the button labeled "Import."

    Editing Your Images

    Once all of your images have been successfully imported to Lightroom, you can start editing. Just a quick overview - the left side your screen is called the Navigator Panel - this includes your Catalog (you can see all of the photographs you have imported to Lightroom by clicking "all photographs" or you can see the most recent collection of images you imported by clicking "previous import"), folders, collections, and publish services. For this post, we will just be discussing how to edit your images, but please know that there are so many aspects of Lightroom that you can learn more about if you would like. Before we get into editing, let's go over what you're seeing on your screen after you click on "previous import". On the left is your Navigator Panel, in the middle are all of the images you recently imported, and at the bottom is a row of thumbnail images, which is called your filmstrip. At the top you should see the following: Library, Develop, Map, Book, Slideshow, Print and Web. Double-click on the image you would like to edit from the collection of thumbnails in the middle of your screen and then click on "Develop" on the top right of your screen.
    This section if called the Develop Module - which looks a lot like the Library Module. Within the Develop Module you might notice that there's not a grid view, but you can always click on a different photo to edit by clicking on "Library" at the top of your screen. Find the image you want to edit and double-click on it, or utilize your filmstrip at the bottom of your screen to scroll through your thumbnails from side to side. On the very right of your screen, there are different panels you can utilize to edit your image. For the example image that we are utilizing for this post, you might notice that it was taken indoors, so the very first thing we're going to do is adjust the exposure and the contrast. To do this, simply head over to the right-hand side, under "Basic" as shown in the screenshot below.
    Below are the exact changes that we made to the image:

    • Exposure: +.0.9
    • Contrast: +9
    • Highlight: -58
    • Shadow: -34

    Now we move on to adjust the temperature of the image and the tint. For this image, we brought the temperature down to 4,632 which made the image a little bit less warm, and we adjusted the tint to +58.
    To edit the image a little bit more, we head down to the "Tone Curve" section which is located on the right-hand side of your screen. Here, you'll be able to adjust the highlights, lights, darks, and shadows of the image. Below are the exact changes we made to the image:

    • Highlights: -17
    • Lights: +13
    • Darks: +8
    • Shadows -3

    You can also crop, rotate, and spot correct within Lightroom. For this particular image, we're going to rotate the image a bit. To do this, simply click on the crop tool on the right-hand side and adjust your image as needed.
    If you're ever interested in what your image looked like before, simply click on the "Y|Y" button at the bottom of your screen (right above the filmstrip) and you'll see your original image on the left, and your after image on the right.

    "In order to keep all of your photos consistent, we recommend you find a preset for Lightroom that you like."
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    Saving Your Image

    When your image is ready, all you have to do is click on "File > Export" and then simply select where you would like to save your edited image.


    In order to keep all of your photographs consistent and cohesive (which is essential for Instagram) we recommend you find a preset for Lightroom that you like. A Lightroom preset is just a collection of photo editing settings inside of Lightroom that are bundled within a single click. Why should you use them? They save you a great deal of time since you can simply click on the preset of your choosing to edit your images. Granted we do recommend that you edit each image (by adjusting it's brightness/contrast, etc if needed) a bit since every single photograph is different. Utilizing a preset allows you to ensure that all of your images are edited the same which leads a to a cohesive feed or website if you're utilizing your images for your blog or website. We've gathered a few of our favorite presets that you can buy. Tribe Archipelago PresetsVsco Film PresetsBen Sasso's Presets

    Final Note

    Lightroom might seem a little overwhelming at first glance, but we promise with a bit of practice, you'll get the hang of it in no time. Obviously we didn't cover everything you can accomplish by utilizing Lightroom, but we hope this was a fun (and helpful) intro to get you familiar with the program. Ready to start utilizing Lightroom but don't have a camera other than your phone? Don't worry, we've got your back...check out our article on Top 6 Cameras for Beginners!


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