Minimal Use of Lightroom


Today’s Question: I use Photoshop, and not Lightroom Classic at all. But I might like to use just the catalog features in Lightroom to simply organize and keep track of my files and updates. Can that be done?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, you could most certainly make use of Lightroom Classic to manage your photos, and primarily use Photoshop to optimize your photos. However, I would suggest at least applying basic adjustments in the Develop module in Lightroom, to take the place of Adobe Camera Raw in the context of a Photoshop-only workflow.

More Detail: Many photographers make use of Lightroom Classic exclusively to organize, optimize, and share their photos, without the use of any other software. And, of course, many photographers make use of Photoshop, without using Lightroom Classic in their workflow. It is, however, most certainly possible to make use of both Lightroom Classic and Photoshop in a blended workflow.

In my view Lightroom Classic certainly provides some organizational advantages, primarily because of the catalog that is at the core of a Lightroom-based workflow. Among other things, the catalog enables you to quickly and easily search for photos across your entire catalog based on a wide variety of criteria.

You could absolutely make use of Lightroom Classic primarily for organizing your photos, and still use Photoshop as a primary tool for optimizing your photos. You would simply send a photo to Photoshop from Lightroom Classic when you want to optimize that photo in Photoshop.

However, as a Photoshop user who is not making use of Lightroom Classic, you would be familiar with the use of Adobe Camera Raw to apply initial adjustments to raw captures before continuing the process of optimizing the photo in Photoshop. When you send a raw capture from Lightroom Classic to Photoshop, you will not have the opportunity to use Camera Raw to process the raw capture. Instead, you would want to make use of the Develop module in Lightroom Classic for that purpose.

So, you could use Lightroom Classic (primarily the Library module) to organize your photos and use the Develop module within Lightroom Classic to apply at least the basic adjustments to the raw capture. You can then send an image to Photoshop to apply any and all finishing adjustments there. When you save and close the new image file (TIFF or PSD) created as part of this workflow, that derivative image will appear alongside the source image within your Lightroom Classic catalog.

Of course, over time you may find that you appreciate some of the other features available in Lightroom Classic. That includes the Map module to manage photos based on location metadata, as well as a variety of options for sharing your photos in a variety of ways. But you can most certainly put Photoshop to use as a key tool for optimizing your photos, even when using Lightroom Classic for managing your photos.