How to Use Lightroom: A Complete Tutorial for Beginners

A Lightroom is a behemoth of photography software with enough processes and functions to make your photos looking amazing as a photographer. From the simplest level, the software was designed to do three things: sort photos, post-process, and export them. In this guide, we lay out all the basics and everything you need to know about Lightroom software.

What is Lightroom?

A Lightroom is typically a photographic editing software that also acts as a library for images. It is a great program for organizing images into folders and collections for easy accessibility.

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What makes Lightroom different?

Lightroom software works well the way you expect it to be. Besides, it is vastly different from other software. Whenever you make a change in Lightroom, the change is only visible on Lightroom. If you brighten a photo using this software. If you open it using another software, it will not brighter than normal. The underlying file is totally not changed. This is a fundamental part of Lightroom, it is a feature that you can never disable.


What is Lightroom Catalog?

Lightroom is known to be a cataloging software. Every time you make a change to your photo, the result is not stored on your computer, but on the Lightroom catalog file. A Lightroom catalog contains all the changes and adjustments you make to every single photo. Notably, it does not take up much space, yet it contains all the edits to each of the thousand photos you have.

Opening Lightroom for the first time

When you open the software for the first time, it will prompt you for a catalog and where to store it. You will need to create a new catalog, provide it with a descriptive name, and specify the file location on your hard drive. I addition, the software allows you to create as many catalogs and folders as you wish depending on the load you are working with.

Importing photos

When you connect your memory card to the PC for the first time, you will see a thumbnail grid with all the pictures on your memory. As you open the software, you will have different options.

-From the top of your screen, select copy. This will allow you to copy all the picture over to your computer and add them to the Lightroom catalog.

-From the right side of the screen, you will need to select the destination. It allows the program to know to know where to store the original copies of the picture on your computer. Here, you can select a specific location and rename your photos as they are imported. You can apply “Develop Settings” to all the photos as you provide them with specific keywords.

-Select the photos to import. Use the checkmarks in the top corner of the thumbnail preview. All your photos will be checked by default, if there are photos you do not wish to check, you can deselect them.

When you are set, click on the import button at the lower-right corner. Your PC will chime when all is done, and you will be set to start editing.

Organizing and Processing your Photos

After the photos are imported, the screen might look confusing but do not worry. From the left side of your screen, find “Collections.” The collection just like a playlist, help you sort out picture either manually or automatically based on your preference.


Click on the (+) sign at the top right corner to make a new collection. Once done, you can populate it by dragging and dropping pictures over it. It is worthy to note that during this time, the original photos remain intact. Now that you have the collection ready, it is time to start editing the photos.

Editing your Pictures

The develop module is where most of the editing takes place. Here, you can do adjustments and light exposure corrections according to your needs. There are different features on Develop mode.

Tone and Contrast

During photo editing, you will use local adjustment slider most of the time. The standard tone sliders include Highlights, Whites, Contrast, Exposure, Shadows, and Blacks. The exposure slider is used to subtract or add light, While shadows help make areas on the image darker or lighter.

How to crop and straighten Images

Cropping an image can help your image composition by cutting out the distracting areas. Besides, it allows you to zoom into an image and make a subject more prominent. You can access the tool by pressing R or from the basic area of Develop. In addition, it can help you straighten your image that might have been photographed off-kilter.



Once all the changes are made, it is the time to export the final photo. Just like other programs, you can save the file on your computer as you wish. The best way to save a file is to use SAVE AS and give your file appropriate title.