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Exporting Photographs from Lightroom

Updated on January 18, 2014

When I first started using Lightroom, the part I was most confused about was how to get my photos out of the program. With a little playing around, I found that there are some handy settings like resizing, watermarking and post-processing that can be found in the export window. This allows for easy batch rendering and makes life a lot easier when exporting photos and uploading them for client or family review.

The export window in Lightroom
The export window in Lightroom | Source

How to Export Photographs in Lightroom

Before going any further, I'll go a head and make sure that you know how to export your photos. It may seem silly, but there is no "save" or "save as" function in Lightroom that will allow you to get your photos out of the program.

Instead, you want to use the Export option in the file menu. To export one photo, simply select the photo you want to save out and go to File > Export. This will bring up the export window. There are different settings that you can choose from.

Exporting Multiple Files

  1. Left click and hold down the ctrl button on your keyboard and left click on the other photos to add them to your selection.
  2. Go to File > Export
  3. The export window will pop up giving you settings to choose from.
  4. When you're finished, hit export and your photos will be exported.

Close up of the export window in Lightroom.
Close up of the export window in Lightroom. | Source

The Basics Settings of Export Window

The first thing you'll see in the export window is the Export Location. This is where your images will be exported to. (I highly recommend that you develop a folder structure for your photos if you are serious about your photos. This helps keep everything organized and will make it easier for you to find photos at a later date without having to sort through a bit mess!)

Do you have a folder structure for your photographs?

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Under the Export Location you'll see that you have different options such as exporting to a specific folder, choosing a folder later (for preset creation) and some popular choices such as the desktop, my documents and my photos.

Usually I'll pick export to a specific folder and then check the box to put files in subfolder. I will then name this fullSize, edited or Facebook depending on what I'm exporting for. This keeps my RAW photos in the folder separated from my edited photographs and keeps them easy to navigate to.

If you're into cataloging your photos, go a head and check the box. I'm not that serious about file organization, but if you're into wedding photography, you might want to look into it.

For the existing files option, I usually leave it as "Ask what to do" that way I don't accidentally overwrite files if there already is a file by the same name.

There's also an option to rename your files. You can add a prefix, suffix or add numbers. There's a lot to choose from and different ways to organize your files, so pick the one that works best for you.

And finally there is what image format you want to save your file as. I always choose JPEG, 100 quality, but you may change this depending on your need.

Adding a watermark in Lightroom
Adding a watermark in Lightroom | Source

How to Export Photos with Watermarks

This is probably one of my favorite options. Instead of having to open Photoshop and individually edit my photos, all I have to do is check add watermark in Lightroom and it'll automatically place my watermark on my photos. This makes uploading to Facebook a breeze!

How to Create a Watermark in Lightroom

  1. Go to Edit > Edit Watermarks. This will bring up the watermark window in Lightroom. You'll have the option to use an image (if you created your own in Photoshop), or you can simply add a text watermark. You can have multiple watermarks.
  2. To use an image for your watermark, click in the radio button for "Graphic", to create a text watermark, select the "Text" option.
  3. You can preview what your watermark will look like. This will allow you to properly scale it up or down. You can also change the opacity and the location of where your watermark will be places. The usual places are the bottom corners.
  4. Once you're done, click "save" and give your watermark a name so you can select it in the export window when you're ready to save out your photo.

Watermark editor in Lightroom
Watermark editor in Lightroom | Source

How to Place Watermarks on Photos in Lightroom

  1. If you haven't already, create your watermark. You can either go to Edit > Edit Watermarks or you can select the option "Edit watermarks.." in the export window, under the watermarks section.
  2. In the Watermarks Section, check the box to enable the drop down menu.
  3. Select your watermark from the drop down menu.
  4. When you export your photo, your watermark will automatically be placed.

How to Re-size Photos on Export

This is an easy option, but one worth explaining. I usually will export the full photo size for my records or if I plan on printing them out, but I also will export a smaller file to share on Facebook. The Facebook ones will be smaller resolution and I'll add my watermark on top of the photos.

This obviously is a HUGE time saver as you can batch the files that you want to re size.

The Image Sizing option in Lightroom
The Image Sizing option in Lightroom | Source

Re-sizing a Photo in the Export Window in Lightroom

  1. To re-size an option, scroll down to the Image Sizing option in the Export window. Check the box next to re-size to fit:
  2. From the drop down menu, select the option that best suites your need
  3. The dimensions and width and height is a good way to re-size your photos if you have a certain size in mind. If you're trying to fit an image to a certain size, say a cover photo with the width of 500px, you can select the long side option and Lightroom will automatically create the longest side to 500.
  4. For resolution, 300 is the best quality for printing, however you can leave it at the default of 240 to save space.

What's your favorite part about exporting from Lightroom?

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Other Settings in the Export Window

Metadata - this allows you to add information that will be encoded into your photo. This is good for web optimization and for also adding information that helps protect your images.

Output Sharpening - You can sharpen your photos if you want to print them out. This should help optimize your images and make them look nicer.

Post-Processing - If you want to edit your photo in Photoshop after you export it in Lightroom, there's an option to automatically open it in Photoshop once it's done exporting. This saves you a couple mouse clicks!

Creating Presets - You can also create presets for your settings. If you are constantly exporting your photos the same way, you can create a preset so you don't have to change the settings every time.


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    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Great tips Noelle on how to export photos to Lightroom. Voted up!