Essential Lightroom Tips for Travel Bloggers

For travel bloggers and content creators, there is no better photography tool than Adobe’s powerhouse editing suite – Lightroom. You can drastically increase both creativity and time management with Lightroom, which serves as a comprehensive and user-friendly platform, encompassing photo organisation and editing in one cohesive package.

Among many other things, Lightroom allows you to organise your image catalogue however you please, batch edit multiple photos at once and fine-tune the visual aesthetic of your images.

And with the ability to sync everything to the cloud, you can access your photos and edits from anywhere and share them across multiple devices.

Lightroom truly is the ultimate photo editing and organisation solution for travel bloggers and content creators. And in this post, you’ll find essential tips on how to master Lightroom for all your travel blogging needs, including the best practices for initially organising and sorting workflows. Follow these simple steps along with our advice and watch as both you and your photography grow exponentially!

Adobe Lightroom interface showing useful tips for travel bloggers

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Overview Of Lightroom And How It Will Help Your Travel Blogging

I have used Lightroom from the very beginning of my creative journey, even back when I only used a GoPro and a Google Pixel phone for images! It’s been a wild ride understanding the ins and outs of the editing suite, but my experience has been consistently positive.

Image split in two showing Lightroom editing tips and the detail you can bring out of an image
It is amazing the detail you can bring out of an image utilising Lightroom

My hope with this post is to assist you in reducing the time taken to navigate this tool to its full potential. And to share my most valuable tips and favourite components that do wonders in cutting down my editing time – which is essential for busy travel bloggers on the go.

But before I get stuck into my top 8 Lightroom tips for travel bloggers, I want to highlight two of the most important factors and features of Lightroom, which can often be overlooked or misunderstood.

Importing And Organising Photos Into Lightroom

Lightroom Classic import window, extremely useful to speed up a travel bloggers workflow
Lightroom Import Window

Lightroom’s library module offers powerful organising and cataloguing features that streamline your workflow. One of the significant advantages is the ability to set up automatic folder structures based on your preferences, minimising the chances of losing track of your files.

How this works is when you import photos, Lightroom can automatically sort them into year and date-based folders on your hard drive. Meaning that all your photos from a specific trip or location can be instantly sorted into their own folder, making it easy to locate and manage them in the future. And as a travel blogger, quickly importing and organising your hard drive is crucial to staying on top of your workload.

Lightroom Classic import destination settings to automatically organise a travel bloggers photos on import
Destination box to organise your images into date based folders on import

In addition to automatically creating folders and storing your images, Lightroom also provides in-house sorting features that make navigating your catalogue a breeze. Utilising collections, keywords, flags, ratings, and colour labels, you can create a highly personalised sorting system that makes sense for your own workflow.

In-house Sorting Features

Lightroom Classic interface showcasing the advanced photo organising tools for Travel Bloggers
Collections & Keyword panels

Collections offer a unique approach to sorting, allowing you to group your photos based on your preference, regardless of their actual location on your hard drive. Additionally, they provide the flexibility to share your images across multiple devices, enabling you to edit them anywhere without relying on your laptop.

Meanwhile, flags, star ratings, and colour labels provide visual cues to quickly identify your best shots. You can transform your sprawling image catalogue into an organised, easily searchable database by effectively utilising these features.

Examples of Flags, ratings & colours used to organise images in Lightroom Classic

Note: An important thing to note is that these internal sorting features have no effect on the file’s physical location (whether that be your computer’s local hard drive or a portable drive). Instead, it’s more like adding tags to help you group similar or important images within Lightroom.

Editing On The Go With Lightroom Mobile

Lightroom Mobile is a powerful tool that allows you to edit photos on the go. After installing the application on your mobile device, you can sync the mobile app with your desktop Lightroom catalogue, providing access from anywhere to either your entire collection of photos or only select collections you have created previously on the desktop version. 

Moreover, any changes you make on Lightroom Mobile are automatically synced with your desktop catalogue, ensuring a seamless transition between mobile and desktop workflows. This means you can start editing a photo on your phone and finish it on your computer, or vice versa. The flexibility and convenience of Lightroom Mobile make it an invaluable tool for travel bloggers and other on-the-go content creators.

The Lightroom mobile app, while providing fewer advanced editing features than Lightroom Classic, still offers an extensive suite of tools. And used alongside Lightroom Classic, it completes an already well-rounded approach to editing your travel photos.

Major benefits of using Lightroom Mobile alongside Lightroom Classic:

  • Lightroom Mobile makes editing photos on the go a breeze
  • Using these two tools together creates a seamless workflow
  • Lightroom Classics’ powerful editing tools are a great way to enhance your mobile edits to their fullest potential
  • Lightroom Classic will keep your images organised in a superior and personalised way, even when editing them off your phone.

Understanding The Difference Between Lightroom Classic And Lightroom Mobile

As I mentioned above, the most notable difference is that Lightroom Mobile does not offer the full range of editing tools available in Lightroom Classic. For instance, features like the colour calibration panel, AI noise reduction, advanced masking features and the creation of panoramas are only available in the Lightrooms desktop version.

Lightroom Mobile on web browser
Lightroom Mobile on Web Browser
Lightroom Classic develop window Interface for editing travel photos
Lightroom Classic on Desktop

Another distinguishing difference to note is user-friendliness. Lightroom Classic is, without a doubt, a more intuitive application for fine-tuning your edits, but the additional features and crowded workspace can sometimes overwhelm beginners. Lightroom Mobile on the other hand, is equipped with a more simplistic interface, making it easier for travel bloggers to quickly understand and experiment with the tools available.

And lastly, it’s important to remember that while Lightroom Classic uses physical storage in the form of hard drives, any images you add to Lightroom Mobile use Adobe Cloud Storage, which is capped at 1TB for premium accounts.

You might think 1TB is sufficient, but I’ve compiled over 7TB worth of photos and videos in the past three years alone. If I were relying solely on Lightroom Mobile, I would need to store these images externally, constantly having to add and remove images from my online library.

As you can see, both tools have a strong place in a travel blogger’s arsenal, and with Adobe keeping integration in mind, combining these two powerful editing suites into your blogging workflow will do wonders for both your progression and efficiency.

Incredibly Useful Lightroom Tips For Travel Bloggers

Organise And Sort Your Photos Like A Pro

One drastically important aspect of a Travel Blogger’s workflow that is often overlooked is the organisation and planning of your image library. As I mentioned above, Lightroom enables you to quickly import, identify, select and integrate your photos into the editing process. This is ultimately the main aspect that will speed up your workflow and increase your blogging output.

Light gleaming through Hooker Valley overlooking Sealy Tarns in Mt Cook National Park, New Zealand

Using Lightroom’s internal sorting features is a godsend, but to make it even more beneficial, you can develop a personalised process that makes sense to you and your workflow.

You can sort and tag your library in any way that makes sense to you, but personally, I like to keep my process simple and clean. This makes it easy to understand and repeat time and time again.

My Lightroom organisation process looks like this:

  • Automatically arrange images on import – Utilise Lightroom’s automatic import features to arrange images into folders based on dates and locations.
  • Sort the images – I do this by adding a one-star rating to the images I plan to keep, making sure to go through any bursts and selecting only the best shots.
  • Delete all unrated images – this removes the clutter and allows me to focus on only my best content.
  • Flag and keyword best shots – for any particular day, I will flag and/or add keywords to the best images that I will focus most of my time on (these are often ones I’ll also use for Instagram)
  • Add locations to Smart Collections for images I plan to edit using my phone – I don’t always do this, but it’s essential if I know I’ll be away from my laptop.
Tips on how to use Lightroom to organise your images
Utilising ratings, flags and Keywords to organise my favourite images from the Mueller Hut Route in New Zealand

This process works for me because it’s simple and easy to implement for every shoot. On too many occasions, I’ll come back from a day of photographing a location we want to write about and literally have thousands of images! Culling immediately helps me avoid the feeling of overwhelm. Because we all know, a clean workspace is an efficient workspace!

Pro Tip: If you don’t like the idea of deleting files before editing, you can still follow the above structure and filter your files by rated (filter bar located in the bottom right corner). This will allow you only to see the images you have selected from any particular location, clearing the mass amounts of clutter.

Get Familiar And Utilise Lightroom’s Many Features

As a travel blogger, managing your time efficiently is crucial to achieving success. That’s why getting familiar with Lightroom and its features is so important.

Lightroom offers an array of valuable features for us travel bloggers looking to streamline our workflow and boost productivity. These features aren’t only limited to organisation and speed – there are several useful tools that you can lean on to help create a professional and more consistent style of edit.

Features that are absolute favourites amongst travel bloggers are:

  • Keyboard Shortcuts – Whether you’re effortlessly switching between views, toggling previews, or syncing edits, keyboard shortcuts are an unrivalled long-term solution for enhancing your efficiency and productivity. 
  • Syncing Edits The ultimate one-click solution that effortlessly transfers your edits to any selected image, this invaluable tool drastically accelerates editing time, especially for images with a similar aesthetic. But remember, syncing your images isn’t foolproof – it only works effectively when the images share similar qualities.
  • Compare View – The ability to compare images in a side-by-side window is a great way to spot imperfections and create a consistent look throughout your travel photos.
  • Before & After View – The before and after view in Lightroom is a helpful tool for evaluating photo edits by toggling the original file with your edited version.
  • Lightroom Presets – Utilising presets will speed up your editing process and create a consistent look throughout your images. That said, presets shouldn’t be used as a one-click solution but rather as a building block to edit in a consistent fashion.

Whether you’re just beginning your journey as a travel blogger or searching for inspiration to take your photography to the next level, taking the time to familiarise yourself with Lightroom and its features is something you will never regret mastering.

Create And Follow A Clear Photo Editing Structure

Taking a step back and creating a clear and concise editing structure allows you to lay a strong foundation for innovative ideas to flourish. 

Begin with an idea of what you’re trying to portray, and ask yourself how you want your viewers to feel when they look at your images and read your post. This simple exercise can point you toward where to begin editing and provide a mental goal of what you expect the final result to look like.

Showing the power of Lightroom editing with a before and after of my travel blog photos
My vision was to create a dreamy pink sunset from an underexposed, blue frame

After you have a sense of direction, you can curate an editing structure that fits your style and ensures you don’t get lost in the depths of the advanced Lightroom tools at your disposal. While there are no set rules, this is a common editing workflow used by travel bloggers and professionals alike.

  1. Set a clear goal for your vision of the image, and be precise
  2. Crop and align your image
  3. Set the exposure, contrast and white balance
  4. Subtle noise reduction and sharpening
  5. Create local masks to enhance the subject and create a dramatic effect
  6. Make colour calibration adjustments (if intending to do so)
  7. Produce creative effects with global colour grading
  8. Fine-tune your masks with localised colour grading
  9. Fine-tune all other adjustments

Find The Right Balance Between Exposure And Contrast

Lighting and contrast are two of the most important aspects of photography to create a well-balanced image. Finding the right balance between exposure and contrast will set the tone of your photograph and help your viewers understand the feeling behind your images.

Golden Rays Piercing the Jagged Peaks Of the Franklin Gordon River National Park from the Summit of Frenchmans Caps

When you begin editing, it’s vital to prioritise lighting and contrast adjustments, as these changes have a direct impact on colour. By first setting the exposure and contrast balance, you’ll achieve a more accurate representation of both light and colour. This makes your colour correction process far easier and produces a more natural and consistent look across your photos.

Note: If you perform these steps in reverse – colour grading before adjusting contrast and exposure – you’ll find that you will end up with a false representation of colour. This often leads to over-saturation, requiring you to redo the colour-grading process.

To enhance the contrast in your images, you can effectively manipulate them by utilising global adjustments such as the tone curve, contrast slider and basic exposure panel. And for further enhancements, local tools such as masks and the luminance tab of the HSL panel are highly beneficial.

Raw image of Hooker Valley before any Lightroom post processing
Raw image
Sun rays shining down Hooker Valley on a beautiful day in Mt Cook
Well balanced exposure & contrast

However, it is crucial to find the right balance. Take caution not to excessively darken the shadows or overexpose the highlights. The beauty of a photo lies in a well-balanced composition.

Some handy Lightroom tools to help keep you on track with your contrast and exposure adjustments are:

  • The Histogram This shows a visual representation of the lighting and contrast of your entire image, perfect for adjusting your shadows, mid-tones and highlights for the perfect balance of contrast.
  • Clipping warnings – a great feature to keep track of any areas of your image that have either been overexposed or underexposed.

Unleash The Power Of Creative Masking

When it comes to editing your photos in Lightroom, masking is one technique that can unlock endless possibilities for creativity. By selectively masking different areas of your image, you can draw your audience’s attention to certain areas, easily enhancing your subject or creating focus in unexpected places.

Bland Edit of Milford Sound on a dark moody day
No masks applied
Using Lightroom Masks to enhance detail on a dark moody day in Milford Sound in New Zealand
Masks used to enhance dramatic effect

But while masking is a powerful tool for enhancing the aesthetic of your image, it’s important to use masks subtly. To achieve a visually appealing result, you must ensure that the masks remain unnoticed by the audience. Remember, subtlety is the secret to maintaining a seamless and unique look.

Below is a great video by Christian Mohrle that covers each Lightroom mask and really showcases the power of these unique tools.

Below are tips to help you use Lightroom’s creative masking tool to its full potential:

  • Adjust exposure and contrast first – Like the basics of editing, any adjustment to lighting and contrast should be made before touching the colour panels.
  • Intersect your masks – Intersecting is much like placing a mask within your mask and is an excellent way accurately manipulate only a specific area of your image.
  • Use object masking subtly – Although the new AI masking technique has increased our workflow efficiency, it is crucial to note that using “hard masks” can make it apparent to viewers that certain parts of your image have been artificially enhanced.
  • Set a high feather on your masks – Feathering your masks does wonders to blend the local adjustment to the rest of your image, resulting in a more lifelike edit.
  • Selectively edit your sky – Since skies in your images are often brighter, selectively masking and editing them can effectively bring your images back to life after making global adjustments.

Take Advantage Of Colour Grading Tools

Photography for travel bloggers is all about capturing moments in their truest form and sharing them with like-minded souls. That being said, sometimes our cameras don’t quite capture colours accurately. This is where Lightroom’s colour-grading tools come in handy.

Raw image of Wineglass Bay from the Lookout in Freycinet National Park
Raw image lacking contrast & colour
Beautiful Turquoise ocean of Wineglass Bay, Edited with Lightroom Classic
Colour graded to represent a life-like view

The calibration sliders, colour grading panel, tone curves, and HSL sliders are all essential tools to ensure your photos look their best. These tools combined provide endless possibilities for fine-tuning your images and making them truly pop.

The calibration sliders allow precise adjustment of individual colour channels, enhancing colour accuracy and creative possibilities in your travel photos. With the colour grading panel, you can shift the tone of your shadows, mid-tones and highlights to match your desired aesthetic. The tone curves give you even more control by allowing you to fine-tune the brightness and contrast of specific colours. Lastly, the HSL sliders let you change the hue, saturation, and luminance of individual colours.

Colour grading is a fascinating and in-depth aspect of the editing process. To assist you in understanding and integrating these tools into your workflow, I’ve provided links to some of my favourite tutorials below.

And remember, travel blogging is about sharing the beauty of your experiences so that your audience can imagine themselves in that scene. There is always room to push the limits, but it’s essential to ensure you don’t manipulate the reality of your image too much, as this will create an unrealistic expectation for your audience.

Find Your Unique Style, But Learn To Adapt To Changing Conditions

In the ever-growing ocean of travel blogging, finding your unique visual style is imperative to stand out amongst the crowd. It’s your signature, the brushstroke that distinguishes your work from the rest.

Using Lightroom to edit a hiking image of the Western Arthurs shot at midday

That being said, it’s essential to remember that while your blog images should impress, they must also show a true representation of the location you’re writing about. And as a travel blogger, you won’t always have the luxury of shooting at the optimal time – and that’s ok.

It’s important to be able to adapt and learn how to edit images shot under less-than-ideal circumstances. Because, more often than not, you’re only going to visit a location once.

Basically, the best thing you can do as a travel blogger is find a style that works for a wide variety of applications – and remember that you’re not attempting to edit the perfect image but rather show the reality of a situation.

An effective approach is to seek out travel bloggers you admire and observe how their images shot during differing conditions seamlessly blend together throughout an article. By studying and drawing inspiration from fellow peers, you can explore new and diverse editing techniques, ultimately discovering and developing your own distinctive style.

Don’t Over-Edit Your Images

Over-editing your travel photos can have the unintended consequence of making your work look amateurish, casting a shadow over the raw beauty of your original captures. While post-production is an integral part of the image-making process, avoiding going overboard is crucial.

Over-saturated image of a hut on a mountain ridge showing useful lightroom tips
Over-saturated and over-sharpened
Glorious sunset at French Ridge Hut over the Aspiring Valley in New Zealand
Well balanced & life-like edit

Forcing presets that don’t fit, over-saturating colours, and over-sharpening details can lead to an artificial look rather than enhancing the visual appeal. Over-edited photos often look heavily processed and far removed from reality, making it hard for viewers to connect with them.

Furthermore, over-editing can also lead to the degradation of image quality, which can be especially problematic if you are providing photography for paying clients.

These valuable Lightroom tips will help you maintain a polished and professional look for your edits:

  • Take it easy on the sliders – Your image rarely looks its best when you manipulate settings to their maximum range.
  • Toggle before and after previews – A quick and easy way to see if you have gone too far is to compare what the image looked like before commencing your editing journey.
  • Compare view – Compare your edits side-by-side with other similar images you are happy with the result of.
  • Avoid over-sharpening – Use the sharpening tool subtly and utilise the masking feature to enhance details in only the specific areas you need to.
  • Take it easy on texture, clarity and dehaze – Although these tools can often deliver the desired effect, they can quickly compromise the integrity of an image.
  • Test your edits on multiple screens – Due to variations in screen display, your edits may appear different across different devices. To ensure optimal results, test your edits across multiple screens and find a balanced approach. Consider the most likely screen your audience will use to view your content when finalising your edits.

Allow the authentic beauty of the location you’ve captured to shine through and remember that sometimes, less truly is more.

Final Thoughts On These Essential Lightroom Tips For Travel Bloggers

Once you begin to understand Lightroom and its countless features, you’ll quickly notice how invaluable it is for travel bloggers. It has helped me exponentially grow my photography skills, and I’m still learning new features and handy tricks daily!

So take advantage of these Lightroom tips for travel bloggers and make sure to document every second of your journey with breathtaking photographs that inspire and motivate your audience.

If you have any questions or want to share some of your top editing tips for travel bloggers, please feel free to drop a comment below.