Today’s Question: I have learned how to use Lightroom from your courses. When I look at other tutorials I see the instructor using Bridge (it seems like everyone uses Bridge except me). It appears to me that if I use Lightroom like you taught me I don’t really need Bridge. Is this correct? Which one has the advantage over the other?
Tim’s Quick Answer: In my opinion, once you’ve started using Lightroom to manage your photos, it is best to avoid the use of Adobe Bridge for browsing your photos. Using Bridge introduces the potential for making changes to the metadata for your photos in Bridge, causing that metadata to be out of sync with the metadata contained within your Lightroom catalog.
More Detail: To be sure, if you are careful not to update any of the metadata for your photos within Adobe Bridge, it is perfectly fine to browse photos using Bridge if you find that to be more convenient. However, in general I recommend that you consistently use Lightroom as the exclusive image-management tool once you start using Lightroom to manage your photos.
I suspect if you see other instructors using Adobe Bridge, it may be for illustrative purposes, or convenience when showing specific techniques in Photoshop. For example, in some cases when I am teaching Photoshop techniques I will create a folder of working photos that I will use to demonstrate the techniques. In that type of situation it is simpler to use Adobe Bridge to browse the photos, and then double-click on a photo to open the image in Photoshop. But for my “real” workflow of managing, optimizing, and sharing my photos, everything is initiated from within Lightroom.
Bridge and Lightroom are a bit different in terms of overall architecture, making it difficult to compare the two without considering the context of your workflow. But in general I recommend Lightroom as a more efficient tool for image management, in large part because of the efficiencies gained by having a central catalog. That said, there isn’t a single right answer for all photographers. It is important to consider your overall workflow when choosing specific software. But once you’ve chosen software for managing your photos, I consider it beneficial to use that software consistently as the core component of your workflow.