I had Lightroom for over six months before I really started to use it. I was happy with Photoshop and bought LR mostly to see what all the fuss was about. In retrospect, I wasted time that I could have used to learn to use an outstanding image processing program. I decided that if I was going to really learn Lightroom, it made sense to get some hands-on training. I searched the net and found plenty of workshops. Some were four days of training costing more than $1,000. All were in distant cities and I wasn’t ready to invest that much. I found Lightroom Workshops and saw that they were offering a workshop only 2 hours away for about $300 for two full days of instruction. Sign me up. [Note: as of 2015 the cost of the two-day workshop is $400.]
When I registered Lightroom 4 was still in beta, but it was released a few weeks before the workshop so the training focused on LR4. [Update: we’re now at LR 6; the workshops teach the most recent releases of the program.] Registrants are required to bring a laptop with at least a trial version of the software and a digital camera. LRW advises participants well in advance about the hardware, software and experience required and they emphasize the importance of understanding the basics of computer use before coming to the workshop. I found that it helped to have worked some with LR before coming. Jerry Courvoisier, a well-known photographer and Lightroom teacher, distributed flash drives with almost 4 GB of practice files, PDFs of his LR book, and information on plug ins and other goodies. It’s a good way to start: no messing with books and handouts and you get to keep the flash drive, a nice touch. Jerry’s teaching style is patient and relaxed. With only a dozen students it was easy to get help, but his presentation was thorough and informative, so relatively little extra help was needed.
The workshop was held in a hotel in the Washington, DC suburb of Rosslyn, several blocks from a Metro station, which means I didn’t have to deal with traffic. We spent the first morning learning the basics of the Library module, including LR navigation, folder creation and database management. The afternoon was dedicated to collections, smart collections, and rating images. We then moved on to creating virtual copies, exporting, emailing, keywords, and working with EXIF and IPTC data. By mid-afternoon we had moved into the intricacies of the Develop module and presets. Day 2 involved importing images that we had shot with our digital cameras, importing and merging catalogs from a laptop or EHD to a desktop, cropping, red eye correction, gradients, adjustment brushes, and finally the book, slide show and print modules.
The focus of the workshop is on workflow more than technique, although Jerry also taught techniques. I liked this approach, as LR is very much workflow-oriented. The pace of this workshop was just right—once everyone understood a concept or module, we were on to the next one. I felt ready to learn the power of LR on my own, having mastered the basics.
The cost of the workshop is very reasonable, especially given the small size of the class and the high quality and depth of the instruction. While you should buy a book or two to help you take full advantage of the program, it makes sense for serious photographers who want to learn Lightroom to invest in a training workshop like this one. The benefits outweighed the monetary cost, and it was more enjoyable than trying to learn in isolation.
This is a great choice for someone new or nearly new to Lightroom. And if you want a great teacher, you can’t do better than Jerry Courvoisier.