Today’s Question: I am an avid user of Photoshop and do a fair amount of printing. I do not use Lightroom. Recently I have seen some printing workflows using Lightroom Classic and it appears there are more features and abilities to make printing more consistent and perhaps easier using Lightroom. Can I use Lightroom Classic just for printing without getting involved with the catalog system, which is why I shun using Lightroom Classic?
Tim’s Quick Answer: You could certainly import photos into Lightroom Classic for the sole purpose of producing prints, taking advantage of the streamlined layout and printing workflow features in Lightroom Classic. In this case I would recommend using working copies of your original images for this purpose, just to avoid confusion in your normal workflow outside Lightroom Classic.
More Detail: Lightroom Classic does make it relatively easy to create page layouts when printing your photos. This can make it much easier to produce a print with the intended layout, whether you’re printing a single image or want to have multiple images (or multiple copies of the same image) on the page. In particular, creating print layouts in Lightroom Classic is considerably easier than using Photoshop.
The key is to make sure you don’t create confusion in your workflow. Therefore, my recommendation in this case would be to create copies of your photos for the purpose of printing from Lightroom Classic. You could keep these in a separate folder structure, so they are clearly separate from your primary image files. Note, by the way, that if you’ll save any of the images intended for printing in the Photoshop PSD file format, you’ll need to enable the “Maximize Compatibility” option in Photoshop. You can also simply save these derivative images as TIFF files.
After creating the copies of the images you want to print, you could then import them into Lightroom Classic with the “Add” option, so they will be included in the Lightroom Classic catalog but remain in the folder location where you have already saved them. You could then use the Print module to create prints for the imported images.
Note that when it comes to sharpening for print, I actually prefer Photoshop over Lightroom Classic. While Lightroom Classic includes excellent algorithms for sharpening, it doesn’t provide a preview for that sharpening. You may therefore want to consider using Photoshop to resize and sharpen the photos for the final print, if you prefer this control. Of course, you could also test out the sharpening in Lightroom Classic with some test prints, to get a sense of how comfortable you are with that approach.