how and why to use lightroom smart previews

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This Lightroom smart preview tutorial will explain why smart previews will change your photo editing experience. And I will show you step by step how to set up a smart preview in Lightroom.


In case you missed last week I showed you how to merge Lightroom catalogs together to create one master catalog. 

Here are a few reasons why setting up a Lightroom smart preview will rock your world 

  1. Speed. Because smart previews are not attached to the original RAW files, this allows you to move from one image to another more quickly, which speeds up edit time considerably.
  2. Access. Smart Previews allow you to edit your images, and even export them without being attached to the original files. This is great for editing while you are traveling, or working without being connected to the hard drive where the files exist.
  3. Outsourcing. If you outsource your photo editing, or in my case, if people are sending me their work to build a portfolio, sending the catalogue with Smart Previews allows for this to happen without sending the original files.

Watch the video above to get the exact step-by-step guide to setting up a Lightroom smart preview effectively.

how to create a lightroom smart preview

  • To set up a Lightroom smart preview simply select the files in your catalog that you would like to make into smart previews.
  • Go to Library > Previews > Build Smart Previews.
  • This will then create a separate smart previews file that you would share with your Lightroom catalog when providing for outsourcing.
  • When you are disconnected from the hard drive where your RAW files exist, you will still be able to make changes in the develop settings. You can even export the file, as long as it is 2540 px or under.
  • You will know that an image is a smart preview because it will have a little rectangle in the top right corner. Files that are not smart previews will have an exclamation mark in the right corner when not connected to the hard drive.

The video tutorial goes over more details, so please watch that for a full walkthrough.

Now you know how to set up your Smart folders to edit with more speed, edit detached from the original media, or to outsource your catalogs for editing by somebody else.

If you want to get your hands on my exact method for editing for portfolio make sure you download my free power portfolio checklist by entering your details below. I also have a post about the 5 tips to building a dynamic photography portfolio. Be sure to check that out to get you started off in the right direction.

I would love to hear what you would love to know to help you with your commercial photography journey. Let me know in the comments below. 



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