How Do You Learn How to Use Lightroom?
If you want to learn how to use Lightroom Classic CC, there are plenty of options at your disposal. We cover the pros and cons of five different methods to learn Lightroom, from getting started to more advanced usage.
Five Ways to Learn How to Use Lightroom Classic CC
Learning how to use Lightroom Classic CC seems like a never-ending task. I think most of us choose a method to get started, and then mostly stick with what we know.
There are two problems, though:
- Most of us learn Lightroom in different ways
- Most teachers seem to only teach Lightroom the same way
As you listen to the podcast, you'll see that Lee has a very unusual way of working with Lightroom. While it wouldn't work for me, her method reminds me that one size of training isn't right for everyone.
That's why we wanted to discuss some of the different ways to learn how to use Lightroom Classic CC, and give our thoughts on the pros and cons of each method.
Learning by Doing
At some point, we all learn by doing. I think it works best after you had an introduction to go over the basics, but some people like to just dive right in and start pressing buttons, moving sliders, and finding out what happens when you do something.
To be honest, that's not my style. I remember when I was a kid and my father wanted me to do something. If I replied, “I don't know how”, he'd belt out a loud voice with one word: “Learn!”
Now I loved my Dad (he's gone), but these were never my favorite moments.
How do you even know where to start? Mind you, it's much safer to start playing with Lightroom if you don't have any guidance than it was to learn how to work the lawn mower. It can still feel intimidating.
Lee's method of learning how to use the tools in the Lightroom Develop module is something I thought was pretty clever.
She got a number of Lightroom Presets to apply to her photos, and then started analyzing what changes they made. Some were just sliders that globally adjusted the photo, but she also looked for the tell-tale dots that indicated a Gradiant or other masking tool that had a Local adjustment.
The key to learning by doing isn't just to see what happens when you move a slider or use a masking tool. You want to uncover the reason why you would choose that tool to do your photo development.
As with most things in photography, it's important to find your answer to “why?”
Learning by Reading
Learning by reading used to only refer to books or magazines, but clearly a lot of people reach for a search engine result before shelling out money to buy a book for simple problems.
I bet someone find this post before they buy a Lightroom book.
So how do you know when to use a search for an article or if it's time to go buy a book?
If I have a one-off problem, I typically start with a Google search. That's because I already know how to use Lightroom for my basic needs. However, there are features that I don't use frequently. If I wanted to create a photo book in Lightroom, I'd probably start with a search engine to supplement what I already know about Lightroom.
Books are better for those who want to get started with Lightroom, or perhaps use as a reference for a new version of Lightroom. There are some features that I just don't use often, but it's nice to know where to find the answer. Google searches are nice, but they may not always bring out the same results from one month to the next.
Having a Lightroom book for your current version provides a consistent resource whenever you need to brush up on something.
Learning by Audio
Maybe it's blasphemy for a podcaster to admit this, but I don't typically use audio to learn how to use Lightroom or other post processing software.
Needless to say, photography is a visual art and I think the technical aspects of using Lightroom ought to have a visual element so you can see what's happening when you make an adjustment.
However, I think audio is an excellent tool for learning concepts.
Let me explain.
I wouldn't use my podcast to tell you what adjustments to make on a photo. Those will vary from one photo to the next, and the listener can't tell if the results I'm discussing are working at all
On the other hand, audio is a great media for discussing workflow. I could explain why you want to make your Healing Brush adjustments before doing Lens Correction, both for reasons of performance and accuracy.
Audio requires you to raise the discussion to a level of abstraction, so that everything you hear can work on any photo. Instead of explaining “how“, audio is a great way to learn “What” and “Why.”
Learning by Video
This is my favorite way to learn, in most cases. Video combines the conceptual lessons I discussed in the Audio section along with the Getting Started or How To lessons you can find in print.
There are a couple of ways to learn by video.
Much like you can use a search engine to find posts and articles on the web, YouTube is essentially a search engine for video training. I tend to use YouTube searches the same way I use a Google search – to find information about a specific issue or problem that I want to resolve.
Overall, I don't find YouTube useful as a guide to getting started. It's possible, but chances are that you waste a lot of time looking from one video provider to another to get the full picture. Even then, you have to know what you want before you can search for it. That means you don't know what they didn't share, and it tends to be an incomplete method for learning.
YouTube is great for finding something specific that you know you need to learn.
So what's the best way to get started learning Lightroom or other photography topics?
My preference is KelbyOne. I've been a member longer than I can remember. There are a plethora of courses for all sorts of photography topics, but the service has specific training for Lightroom (and Photoshop) that can guide you from beginner to intermediate and then on to advanced concepts.
There are other training providers on the market, and I've tried a few. To be honest, I find professional level training and video quality at KelbyOne that just makes it easy for me to learn. I can even download the videos onto my iPad and watch lessons while I'm traveling or on the go.
$20 Off KelbyOne Annual Membership – This is an affiliate link, which means there is no extra cost to you, but I will earn a small commission if you sign up based upon my recommendation.
Learning by Live Training
Finally, you can learn with live training.
This form of learning Lightroom breaks down into three essential forms:
- One on One training
- Workshop training – typically with a small group
- Seminar training – typically a presentation to a large audience
There are a couple of innate benefits for live training.
- You can eliminate distractions and concentrate solely on learning Lightroom
- There's a good chance you can ask questions or have the instructor clarify something taught
Live training is the most expensive way to learn Lightroom, but it's also very effective. I've attended conference sessions at Photoshop World, which are essentially presentations to a large audience, and workshops where the ratio of student and teach is much smaller.
I used to teach Apple Aperture in One on One sessions, and those give you direct access to ask any questions you want. After all, you're paying for that one to one level of attention.
Next, workshops offer plenty of attention and opportunity for questions. After all, your instructors want you to learn. Happy students leave nice reviews for the next batch of workshop attendees.
Conferences and seminars can occasionally answer questions, but your opportunities are limited. That said, it's not impossible. When I attend a Scott Kelby seminar, he invites people to line up and ask him questions during the breaks.
That's brilliant, too. Not only does it allow him to serve his audience in an intimate fashion, but it also gives him insight to the pain points that users are having, which he can then turn into new video lessons or topics for his next book, seminar or conference.
If you need to ask questions, live training is your best bet.
Lightroom Freebies Mentioned on the Podcast
I have some free resources that I mentioned at the start and end of this episode, so please take advantage of them.
Improve Lightroom Speed
Even after Adobe updates Lightroom Classic CC to improve performance, you may find that it starts to slow down again.
Find out what causes performance problems in Lightroom Classic CC and how you can correct the issues in my FREE guide:
FREE Portrait Adjustment Brushes for Lightroom Classic CC
Lightroom is a great tool for portrait retouching. You can apply color, contrast, sharpness and much more with a single adjustment brush. Why make five strokes when you can take care of multiple adjustments in one brush?
My Lightroom Portrait Brushes will help you fix a number of common portrait retouching issues, such as:
- Brightening the Whites of the Eye
- Enhancing the Iris (brushes for different colors)
- Smoothing and enhancing skin – for both light and dark skin
- Whiten teeth
Click the link below to get your FREE portrait adjustment brushes.
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