I don’t like to waste time looking for pictures. I want to be taking them, or working on them, using or admiring them – anything other than trying to find where the damn things have gone. So before I used Lightroom, I was well-known in the iView MediaPro and Extensis Portfolio communities. Cataloguing programs and digital asset management came naturally to someone whose background was in accounting and then financial IT consultant – I had always been into drilling down and finding answers in masses of data. So once I had moved from film to digital and began accumulating many thousands of pictures, I immediately applied the same skills and experience to organising my photographic workflow.

This business background distinguishes my approach to Lightroom from other authors who approached digital photography from careers as graphic artists or photographers and who see Lightroom in terms of Photoshop. Although I had been using Photoshop long before Lightroom, I try to show Lightroom as an entirely different kind of tool – one that is as much about managing your pictures as it is about processing them. Unlike Photoshop, my approach is to focus on Lightroom handling images in the plural.

Do you really want to be splattered with exclamation marks?

I also have little patience with many of the bland tutorials and writing about Lightroom. Do you benefit from being told things are “easy” when they’re not, or hearing a technique is “awesome” when it’s really little more than turd-polishing? Lightroom is not a difficult program, but proficiency in it demands some effort and clear thought.

A fresh start

Another problem is that tools and techniques from Photoshop’s stone age still keep getting dug up, polished, and presented very convincingly in a shiny new web site or in a freshly-printed book. While I don’t dispute that an old technique may still provide top quality results, shouldn’t one always say that the method is long-obsolete and relatively cumbersome, or creatively-limited – and is really best-forgotten? Lightroom is already generating a similar fog of outdated wisdom.

The trouble is, when you do think through a problem and line up all the factors, there is usually one right way to do something. And while there may be circumstances when the ideal way may be unsuitable, why be afraid to say that which method is actually best? Clarity, and occasionally a sharp tongue, will do Lightroom users good.

I was minding my own business at the trade show and simply looking forward to watching various presentations – but 5 minutes after saying hello to Adobe, I was demonstrating Lightroom. I never did get to see Colin Prior.