I’m putting together this video; documenting how I put together a photo-series on the Mac/Lightroom:
First open up Lightroom.
I have all my photos sync’d in Dropbox. I have them in folders based on different series. I need to edit down my projects.
The first project I want to put together is a new edit or series of the ‘Cindy Project.’ I hope to inspire others to document their loved ones through this project.
Time to look through Cindy photos:
Step 1: Organize photos on computer
I’m first going to use ‘Finder’ in the Mac, to organize images, and copy over them to one big folder. Then using Lightroom to sequence and edit them down.
I use the ‘Download’ Folder as a way to organize stuff easily.
Benefit of looking at photos as small thumbnails
I’m looking at the images as small thumbnails; to quickly find the photos.
Also seeing photos as small thumbnails better help me get a sense of the composition and mood.
In the Mac, I navigate my photos is that I press ‘Command+A’ to select all, then the Spacebar to view the photos.
Step 2: Looking at photos in Lightroom
Okay, time to import all these photos into Lightroom. Just drag them over.
You can see some duplicates. Just ignore those.
Shift + Tab to see all photos by collapsing the side-bars.
So you can see I have color and black and white photos of Cindy.
Should I include both, or just black and whites? Let me think.
Color cindy photos are good; but I think black and white will have better longevity.
I will press ‘P’ to pick the photos of Cindy in monochrome; and make a new Set/Collection inside Lightroom.
In bottom right corner; I use ‘Filter’ to select ‘Flagged’ – to only show what was flagged.
Step 3: Making a new set in Lightroom
Command+A to choose all, then I will make a new set.
Once we have created a new Set/Collection; you can see I have only cindy photos in BW. In the Collection mode; you can re-arrange the photos by dragging them.
Step 4: Going back to the computer, to look for more photos to add to Lightroom
Sorry; took a break. Continuing to choose my favorite Cindy Project photos.
I’m importing other photos, and dragging them into the ‘cindyproject’ collection.
When I’m looking at the photos; I like to see the small thumbnails, because it gets me a better sense of the mood. I also am currently choosing photos based on my gut intuition — I don’t try to think too much.
Also when navigating ‘Finder’, I like to use this side-panel view. And I use the arrow-keys on the keyboard to quickly scroll through my images.
I also create a new ‘Tab’ in Finder by pressing Command+T (New Tab). And navigate in-between the Tabs by pressing ‘Control+Tab’ (switch tabs). And if I want to close a Tab, I press Command+W (close Window).
Also when I have a photo I like, I ‘Copy’ it (Command+C) and ‘Paste’ it into the other folder (Command+P).
When I look at old photos; I need to remind myself to Delete the ones I no longer like. To delete, I press ‘Command+Delete’. I used to be an image hoarder — but now when I no longer like photos; I just delete them. Let them go to their digital heaven.
And the best way to see if I like the photos or not? See them as small thumbnails; once again.
Of course; we need good beats to look at photos to.
Step 5: Picking photos in Lightroom
Argh; Finder is taking too long to look at photos. Let’s use Lightroom to import all these photos, and quickly look through them.
Shift+left click (to select all the images) and let’s drag them into Lightroom.
I’ll look through the shots, and “P” (Pick) any photos I like.
Shift+Tab to collapse/open all side-bars.
Step 6: Filtering photos in Lightroom according to ‘flagged’
Once I selected a few that I like, in the bottom-right corner, I press ‘Filters Off’ and choose ‘Flagged’
Now it only shows me the photos I flagged. I press “Command+A” to select all, and will drag them into the Cindy Project collection.
We have around 24 photos selected.
Step 7: How to sequence photos in Lightroom
The next fun step: Sequencing. Deciding which photos to put in which order.
I feel the most important part of story-telling in a photo project is the sequence. The order matters. What do you want as the beginning, the middle, and the end?
For example, if you’re eating a meal; you wouldn’t want dessert first, then your main meal, then the appetizer at the end.
Similarly in a story, you wouldn’t want to know in the end of the movie who dies— or else you will have no incentive to watch the whole film.
Story-telling, sequencing images, is all based on your own imagination. There is no science. My suggestion to be a better story-teller; read more stories. Literature is ripe of great stories. As well as a lot of great film.
So looking at the #cindyproject photos; I’m wondering what kind of story I want to tell.
Part of me thinks — I wonder if I should tell a story of two lovers? And I want to make it anonymous— it doesn’t have to necessarily be me and Cindy. Rather, Cindy is a symbol of all women. And I am a symbol of all partners.
I want this project to be universal — and hopefully other people can be inspired to create their own version of the ‘cindyproject’.
Step 8: Which photos to add to the beginning?
I usually start off with images I want in the beginning, and the end.
Usually the beginning photos are the most important. They set the tone. So I want the image to be strong, and pack a punch.
I like this first image; it feels very anxious. Hits me in the gut.
I like her hand on the side of her face; and her distorted look. I can feel the anxiety, and stress. This is when Cindy was going through her Oral Examinations for her Ph.D at Berkeley. A very stressful time. I shot this through a bottom of a glass cup to get this effect. This might be a good starting photo.
Step 9: How to sequence photos
Then I start to try to fill in the gaps; and look at similarities of brightness/darkness/tone.
Maybe this sea shot can be #2. I like how it is a wider shot. A good sequence should have a good variety of images; or else it gets boring. I like how the photo is open-ended, and you have my shadow in the bottom-right of the frame. And you see Cindy in the distance of the sea; walking away. I feel this is a very ‘Open’ (Open-ended) photo; that the viewer can make up their own story.
I also like to choose photos that have similar textures next to one another; like the sea shot and the photo of Cindy at the Tegel Airport (Berlin):
I like my transition photos to be gradual; not too abrupt.
I like how these two photos are shot in the same spot. On second thought; I don’t like two shots that are too similar to be next to one another. Let’s disperse the photos.
With these three photos; you can see the transition to darker tones.
Once I have a semi-sequence; I just go through the photos one by one; and just see how it makes me feel.
I also go through the sequence of photos; to make sure there is nothing that abruptly stops me. When I feel that jolt — like something is wrong; I go back to re-order the photos.
Step 10: Ditching photos
And whenever I feel I see a shot that doesn’t fit (based on my gut) I remove it from the collection by pressing Delete (Doesn’t actually delete; it just removes it from the collection).
A rule I have when choosing which photos to ditch; ‘When in doubt, throw it out.’
I also try to remove photos that don’t work as small thumbnails (photos that show text).
Unfortunately there will be some photos you like, but you have to remove from the set, because it feels like they don’t fit in quite well as the series.
Step 11: How should I conclude my project?
I like this last photo as a concluding image; it is very positive, open-ended, and I think just a beautiful photo. I love the lights on the top of the frame, the almond-shape of Cindy’s face, and the catch-light in her eyes.
Step 12: The story
Okay; so this sequence is pretty good (at least to me). I might change the sequence of these photos in the future; but I am quite happy with this new version.
To me, the story is about the stressful story of two lovers— who are supporting one another through the thick and the thin. You can see the vast array of emotions, and this road trip they are having in life together (I like this photo of us filling up for gas):
By the end of the project; the couple’s mood is starting to get a lot more positive and optimistic. Which is kind of true — our time in Berkeley was stressful (Cindy starting her Ph.D. in an unfamiliar environment). Now Cindy has a lot more self-confidence, and living here in Hanoi, we are starting to truly creatively thrive.
So the project ends on a positive note— to setup the viewer for future positivity. What I want to encourage — more good, positive vibes in the world:
Step 13: Exporting photos
So let’s say we like this order of images. Then “Command+A” to select all photos. And then we will click ‘Export’ and make sure to export it in the correct sequence.
I will make a new Subfolder called ‘Cindy Project Monochrome”
I select “Custom Name – Sequence” — where I can create my own custom name (Cindy Project Monochrome), and the files will automatically attach a sequence at the end of the file name (-1,-2,-3,etc) — so when we see the files on the computer, it will be in the right alphabetical/numerical order.
Since all the photos are already post-processed JPEG images, I will choose ‘Image Format’ as ‘Original.’
And Voila; you see all the photos in a sequence (1 all the way to 16).
Now that I have all these images in this sequence; I can either create a slideshow, or upload to social media, or my own blog.
How to make a slideshow
Another fun thing I’ve been doing lately; making photo-video-audio slideshows and uploading them to Instagram @erickimphoto. I just use iMovie. This is how I do it:
- Open iMovie
- Drag your photos into iMovie
- Find music you like, and drag it into iMovie as well.
- For the music you choose; trust your gut and your emotions.
- To find music, I recommend going on YouTube, and searching ‘Instrumentals’ (just the music)
- Then go to youtube-mp3.org to download the music as an mp3 file.
- I like this Jay Electronica Eternal Sunshine Instrumental (one of Cindy’s favorite films as well).
- To play through the movie, press Spacebar to play.
- You can change the duration of each slide by double-clicking the image, pressing the “i” icon at the top-right, and changing the duration. For example, I like 3 seconds.
- If you want to change the duration of all the slides (to be the same) press Shift + Left click (to select all the slides) then double click any of the slides, and then press duration (and change to whatever you want, and press enter).
- If you’re happy, then you want to cut the audio clip. Select the ending point, then right-click (or control+left click on Mac trackpad) and select ‘Split Clip.’ Then select the remaining portion, and press Delete.
- So my entire slideshow is only 47 seconds long; perfect for social media (For example, Instagram has a 1-minute video limit).
- Then export it, by pressing the little share button on the top-right corner.
- Export to ‘File’, and keep the default settings. I usually prefer 1080p, Quality: High, and Compress: Faster.
- And then find the video file, and you can upload it wherever you would like.
Editing: The art of choosing your best photos (not to be confused with post-processing).
- How to Edit a Photography Project in Lightroom
- How I Edit My Photos in Lightroom
- How to Use Lightroom in 10 Minutes For Beginners
- Eric Kim Lightroom Presets
Learn how to choose your best photos:
- How to Choose Your Best Photos
- Be Your Own Harshest Critic
- Nobody Wants to Look at Your Photos
- 15 Tips How to Choose Your Best Photos
Learn more: Contact Sheets