The Pick and Reject flags in Lightroom can be a powerful tool for quickly sorting through batches of photos. This article will describe the way these flags work (and don’t work) and includes a video on how I use the flags to quickly edit a shoot.
Some Important Notes
- An image can have either a Pick Flag, a Reject Flag, or no flag. It cannot have multiple flags.
- Pick and Reject flags don’t carry over from one folder view or collection to the next. In other words, if an image exists in more than one Collection and you’ve flagged it in Collection A, it won’t automatically be flagged in Collection B.
- Pick and Reject flags don’t go along with images when they’re viewed outside of Lightroom. If you view an image in Bridge, it won’t have a Pick or Reject flag, even if it is flagged in Lightroom.
- In the Loupe View and Develop Module, you can set a Pick or Reject flag from the Tool Bar below the image.
- Choose View -> View Options from the Menu to get the Library View Option dialog box. Under the Grid View tab, you can check the Flags checkbox under the Cell Icons section to see Pick and/or Reject flags in the upper-right corner of Grid View thumbnail images.
- P – Flag an image as “Picked”
- X – Flag an image as “Rejected”
- U – Remove any flags from an image
A Pick and Reject Flag Workflow
Like anything else in life, there are a number of very different, very valid ways to use Pick and Reject Flags in Lightroom. Here’s a brief walk-through of how I use them to edit down images from a shoot.
In this example, I’m importing a memory card’s worth of images (99) and quickly editing those down to the keepers.
First, I’ve created a Custom Library Filter to automatically hide any rejected images from my view. It makes more sense in the video below, but hiding those rejects helps me quickly identify the best image in a series. Follow these steps to create your Custom Library Filter:
- Tap G to make sure you’re in the Grid View of the Library Module.
- Tap the backslash key (\) to view the Library Filter bar above your photos.
- Click on Attribute to view the Attribute Filter Options.
- Click on the first (Flagged) and second (Unflagged) flag icons. This will filter your view to show only images with a Pick Flag or no flag. In other words, hide your images with a Reject flag.
- Click on the Custom Filter link on the right-hand side of the Library Filter Bar and select Save Current Settings as New Preset.
- Name your preset and click Create. I’ve named mine “Hide Rejects.”
- Now your new preset is available from the Custom Filter menu in the Library Filter bar.
One other tweak that I find useful is Auto Advance. When enabled, Auto Advance automatically moves to the next image once you’ve applied a Flag, Label, or Rating to an image. To turn this feature on, make sure it’s checked in the Photo -> Auto Advance menu.
Once you’ve created that Custom Library Filter (you only have to do it once), you can continue on with these steps:
- Import your images. I like to let the Standard-sized previews build so I can go through and edit more quickly.
- Bigger is better, so tap the F key twice to get to full screen mode.
- Tap E to get to Loupe View.
- Tap Shift+Tab to hide the top, bottom, and side panels.
- Tap T to hide the Tool Bar at the bottom of the screen. This gives us the largest image size available for judging the quality of an image.
- Now, use your right arrow key to navigate through your images. In a shoot like this, I have more rejects than I do keepers, so I’ll go through and apply a Pick Flag (using the P key) to any image that deserves a second chance. Every image that I don’t flag will get deleted.
- Choose Library -> Refine Photos from the menu.
- This will cause the unmarked photos in this folder or collection to be marked as rejects then change the Pick Flagged photos to Unflagged. A dialog box warning us of this will appear. I click Don’t show again then Refine.
- Tap the G key to see all of your remaining (not-soon-to-be-deleted) photos.
- If you want to get one last look at your rejected photos, change the options on the Library Filter Bar or choose Library -> Filter by Flag -> Rejected Photos Only from the menu.
- Go back through and take a look, if you’d like. When you’re convinced that they’re ready for the trash, tap Cmd/Ctrl-Delete and choose Delete from Disk.
- Go back and choose your Hide Rejects Custom Library Filter again.
- Tap E to get back into Loupe View so we can further refine our images.
- Now, I’ll flip through my images and tap the X key to reject those that need to go. The advantage of this technique is that I can easily compare similar images and choose the best. As soon as I reject a photo, it disappears from my view, helping me narrow things down. You can see more of this in the video at the bottom of the post.
- Once I’ve finished my rejecting, I’ll hit Cmd/Ctrl-Delete again to delete those rejected photos.
Important: Make sure you practice with the Refine Photos command before you go to town on your precious photos. It will mark any unflagged images as Rejects that are in the current view. In other words, if you’re viewing “All Photographs” and choose Refine Photos, you may end up inadvertently rejecting lots of photos. In my workflow, I’m working one folder at a time, or with the “Previous Import” only.”
Also, if you’re working within a collection rather than a folder, the Cmd/Ctrl-Delete shortcut won’t allow you to actually delete images…only remove them from the collection. Not so useful in this specific instance.
This video demonstrates how I use Pick and Reject Flags in Lightroom when editing images from a shoot. Your results may vary.
In case you’re curious, the photos used in this tutorial are of a cute little mammal called a fisher (Martes pennanti). I took these photos at the Triple D Game Farm in Kalispell, MT. Want some really cool animal photos for your portfolio? Keep an eye on the Workshops section for some upcoming wildlife workshops.
Do you use the Pick and Reject flags differently? Let us know in the comments.