How to Handle Travel Photos Like a Pro with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3

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If you’ve ever had the pleasure of sifting through several hundred (or thousand) travel photos from a recent vacation, you know what a royal pain it can be. Serious photography enthusiasts know that Adobe Photoshop handles anything one could ever need in the way of direct photo manipulation, editing, exporting, etc.

But what about all the steps before that: managing, organizing, deleting and all the other time-consuming batch processes required long before you get to the individual post-processing level? Enter Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3.

The Skinny

So what exactly is Lightroom? In Adobe’s own words, it:

… helps you bring out the best in your photographs, whether you’re perfecting one image, searching for ten, processing hundreds, or organizing thousands.

Create incredible images that move your audience. Experiment fearlessly with state-of-the-art nondestructive editing tools. Easily manage all your images. And showcase your work in elegant print layouts, slide shows, and web galleries, as well as on popular photo-sharing sites. All from within one fast, intuitive application.

In Detail

There’s a bevy of feature-rich photo management software available. But here are the features of Lightroom that are absolutely essential to the post-processing workflow for travel photography enthusiasts:

Nondestructive Editing Environment

Editing your photos no longer needs to be a one-way affair. Lightroom saves all of your revisions in a separate file, never touching the original (source) photo. Crop, color correct, add effects, et. al. to your heart’s content – none of it permanently alters your original photos.

Edit Damn Near Any File Format

You want software that can handle any photo you throw at it. Lightroom works with almost any graphic file format, including raw files from more than 290 camera models as well as JPEG, TIFF, and a boatload more.

Fast Performance

Photographers know that RAW files are large – often very large. Lightroom’s interface can sort through and display changes to your photos extremely quickly. And, although I’ve no personal experience with previous versions of Lightroom, Adobe claims a marked speed increase in this new version.

Intuitive Interface

None of the above matters without an interface that actually works. With a variety of different “Views”, the Lightroom interface can easily be customized to suit the task at hand. Whether editing one photo or several thousand, it’s a snap to reswizzle the interface to suit your particular needs.

This is absolutely essential and the main reason I’ve personally fell in love with the software – it’s actually made organizing my travel photos [dare I say] enjoyable.

Pricing & Availability

Though the full version retails for $299 (via, it’s also available now through for around $260 (as of December 2010).

Bottom Line

At around $300, Adobe Lightroom isn’t cheap. But travelers who take their photography seriously recognize the value in great software. In the past two weeks alone, it’s personally saved me hours (perhaps days) of manually organizing and sorting several thousand travel photos.

Rarely do I gush over travel gear, gadgets, and especially software. But I admit: as someone who’s used Adobe Photoshop on a daily basis for more than ten years, I can’t recommend Lightroom 3 more highly. It’s a game-changer.

Highly recommended.

Founding Editor
  1. Kind of a misleading title here – this is not so much a “How to” and more a “You should”. More marketing than a tutorial or advice.
    Slightly disappointed…

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