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Lightroom Smart Previews: Why Photographers Might Want to Use Them

As a photographer, you probably shoot raw images and edit them directly in Adobe Lightroom Classic or Photoshop. You may never have used Lightroom Smart Previews but they can come in handy if you want to edit at a café or on the road on a laptop and you don’t want to drag a bunch of external hard drives with you with all that content-heavy raw data you downloaded from your camera card.

If you decide to outsource your editing at some point Smart Previews make it a breeze to share your photos without using up a lot of space or time to send them.

Smart Previews provide lighter versions of your photos for editing

Smart previews are a “lite” version of your photo data that you can apply all of the usual lightroom edits and presets to your heart’s content without using up too much space and ram on your laptop so it makes for faster opening files and a zippy computer interface even if you are just on a laptop that doesn’t have a lot of storage.

When you’re ready to publish your images as prints or catalogs for your customers you just save and export these presets and apply them to your camera raw files.

The great thing about Lightroom edits is that they are lossless. You can always revert back to your original images. The only time they are set in stone is when you save your JPGs for clients t odownload for print or online catalogs

Or if you are using the same laptop at home but with your external hard drives plugged in that you normally work from the smart previews will be applied to those same files without having to import the presets to another computer.

How to set up smart previews so you can travel light

You must set up your smart previews from the original raw photo files before you waltz out to work light.

It only takes about 2 minutes to export your data and create smart previews.

  • First make sure you are in the Library module and not the edit module
  • select the photos you want to make smart previews of.
  • click open the library menu- scroll down to Previews to open the sub menu and click Build Smart Previews.
  • save the previews to a folder and check to make sure you have 2 files before leaving your raw files behind.

Smart previews are great for outsourcing your editing

If you do decide to outsource your editing you won’t want to send your full raw data because even zipped because this can take a hefty amount of space and be hard to transfer.

Send Smart Previews to save space

Saving Smart Previews of everything you want to edit makes transferring easy. You can zip your files and upload them to dropbox or send them through WeTransfer so you editor can do all the lightroom adjustments you want without having to worry about large file transfers. Your editor can simply unzip the smart previews and open them in lightroom. Once edited they send them back with the new settings for you to apply to your photo catalogs for your final exported jpg files for clients.

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I'm a digital and traditional artist at zoezuniga.com I write for mindbodyclarity.com and have a freelance health writing site mindbodycopy.com

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