I love photography because it provides me a way to savor life, capture a memory, and tell a story. As a digital photographer, it’s easy to take tons of pictures and then neglect to invest the time and effort to actually share them. Here’s the good news: This problem has disappeared from my workflow with the incredibly powerful and easy-to-use Web module in Lightroom. It’s now effortless to get your photos online for your friends, family, and clients.
1 [START IN THE LIBRARY MODULE]
The first step is to pick out your favorite photos. As any pro photographer will tell you, it’s always better to show a few amazing photos than many average photos. Click on the Library module picker at the top of the interface, and press the E key to navigate to Loupe view. Now, give each image a star rating by pressing 1–5. For example, press 1 to add a 1-star rating, 2 for a 2-star rating, and so on. Only give your absolute favorite images a 4- or 5-star rating. The star rating will appear in the Toolbar below the image.
2 [FILTER BASED ON STAR RATING]
After adding the star rating, press the G key to navigate to the Library module Grid view. In this view you’ll be able to see all of your images as thumbnails. If the Library Filter options aren’t visible at the top, press the Backslash key (\) to toggle them open. Click Attribute and then click on the particular star rating to sort or filter your images based on that criterion. For example, click on 4 stars to only show the images with a 4-star rating or higher. This way you can clear away all the clutter and focus in on the keepers.
3 [ADD RELEVANT METADATA IN LIBRARY MODULE]
While you’re still in the Library module, take a few moments to add titles, captions, and copyright information to your photographs. Open the Metadata panel located in the right-side panels at the bottom. Next, choose a metadata view option to add the information. Choose the Large Caption view to have more space to type out longer captions, or choose Quick Describe to quickly add the Title, Caption, and Copyright information. The advantage of adding these now is that you can show this information with the photos later in the Web gallery.
4 [REORDER AND RENAME IN LIBRARY MODULE]
Reordering the photos in the Library module can improve the flow and order of the Web gallery. In addition, renaming the photos is important because you may want the names to be visible in the Web gallery. While still in Grid view, go to the Toolbar located beneath the Grid thumbnails and click on the words to the right of Sort and choose User Order. Then, simply click-and-drag the thumbnails to reorder the images. Finally, select all of the photos by pressing Command-A (PC: Ctrl-A), then press F2 to open the Rename dialog and choose a new naming convention.
5 [WEB MODULE—COLLECTION]
In the Web module you can create a Web collection to save a specific group of images that aren’t dependent on any folder structure (i.e., it doesn’t matter where the images are located), which allows you to quickly locate the files. To create the Web collection, click on the New Collection icon (+) in the Collections panel bar and choose Create Web Gallery. Next, type a name for the collection and choose Include All Filmstrip Photos to select all the photos (or leave this unchecked to choose only the selected photos). Choose Make New Virtual Copies to create a collection with more flexibility.
6 [CHOOSE A TEMPLATE]
The Web module comes loaded with a variety of HTML and Flash layouts. First, hover your cursor over the various templates in the Template Browser panel on the left until you see something you like in the Preview panel above. Then, click the name of the template you want to use. Lightroom will render the gallery design with your selected images. If you choose an HTML gallery and you have too many images to display on one page, Lightroom even generates the correct number of webpages with the appropriate hyperlinks to present all your photos.
7 [CUSTOMIZE YOUR GALLERY]
You can customize your Web galleries in many ways using the panels on the right side of the Web module. While the customization controls are self-explanatory, let’s take a quick tour of some of the most important options.
1. Engine panel: Choose one of five different gallery styles.
2. Color Palette panel: Choose color variations.
3. Appearance panel: Define the layout attributes such as the number of rows and columns in your layout, as well as image attributes including borders, drop shadows, etc.
8 [IMAGE CAPTIONS AND TITLES]
In certain situations, adding image titles and captions can make your Web gallery more functional. For example, it can help a client identify a particular photo. On the other hand, it can simply provide valuable information about the image that will add to the overall impact of the gallery. To include this information that we added in Step 3, open the Image Info panel and click on the checkboxes. Depending upon the template you’ve chosen, this information can be displayed along with the image. (Note: You can also click to the far right to select other information to show besides Title and Caption.)
9 [ENTER OUTPUT SETTINGS]
Open the Output Settings panel to define the image quality, select the metadata to include, and the amount of sharpening. Typically, when optimizing images for the Web you want a lower quality JPEG compression, but since the Lightroom Web galleries are well optimized, you can choose a higher quality option. In this case, I’ve chosen 70. Next, you can select what Metadata to include: All or Copyright Only. If desired, click on Add Copyright Watermark. Finally, choose between a Low, Standard, or High Sharpening amount. Typically, Standard works best.
10 [ENTER UPLOAD SETTINGS]
Before you can upload your work to the Web, you need to enter your domain and hosting information. Open the Upload Settings panel, click the FTP Server option, and choose Edit. This will open the Configure FTP File Transfer dialog. Enter your Server name, FTP Username, and Password. Back in the Upload Settings panel, define the Subfolder by typing in a folder name. For example, these images could be viewed at www.chrisorwig.com/joe. (As a side note, if you don’t have a domain name and hosting, there’s no better time than the present to get one. Visit www.chrisorwig.com/hosting for a few recommendations.)
11 [GETTING YOUR WORK ONLINE]
Before you get your work online, it’s a good idea to preview the Web gallery. Click on the Preview in Browser button on the left to view a local (i.e., not live on the Web) version of your Web gallery. This way, you can review the gallery before it goes live. If there’s anything that doesn’t look perfect in the local preview, go back to the above steps to make changes. Once you’re satisfied with the gallery, click the Upload button located below the right-side panels.
12 [VIEW AND SHARE YOUR PHOTOS]
After uploading, you can view the images online in your Web browser by typing out the full URL string. For example, this gallery was uploaded to a folder called joe_color, so I typed “http://chrisorwig.com/joe_color.” (In fact, I’ve uploaded images for a client to review at this link so go there to see a sample gallery.) To share the photos with someone, highlight the full URL string and choose Edit>Copy. Open your email program, create a new email, and choose Edit>Paste.
13 [TIMESAVING SHORTCUTS]
Use the following shortcuts to speed up your workflows: To access the different right-side panels, press Command-1 through 7 (PC: Ctrl-1 through 7). For example, to toggle open/close the Color Palette panel, press Command-3 (PC: Ctrl-3). To quickly preview the gallery locally in your browser, press Command-Option-P (PC: Ctrl-Alt-P). On the other hand, if you’d like to export the gallery to upload it with another application, press Command-J (PC: Ctrl-J).
ALL IMAGES BY CHRIS ORWIG UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED