Hey friends! I have been struggling recently with editing my photos while traveling. Often when editing, one needs to be plugged into an external hard drive to access the files. But if you’re like me and hate having to travel while constantly replugging in heavy hard drives, you know that this can be quite a hassle! Well, this is about to make your life a whole lot easier…


Smart Previews

Adobe released Lightroom 5 awhile back, but I had yet to discover this new Lightroom hack until now! The “smart preview!” I now always build smart previews upon import, so that I can make any change I want to my images WITHOUT having to be plugged in to anything. It’s so liberating and I can’t believe I hadn’t discovered this sooner. I no longer see that big question mark on my files when I try to edit an image without being plugged into the original file on the harddrive or SD card. Before this, you couldn’t edit anything without having it plugged into your laptop.

Smart previews are also great because the files are much smaller, and so I can store them on our working drive without taking up a ton of space. I am able to travel cordless, and I can even export edited images from my smart previews for the web (like posting images to a a blog post, Instagram or Facebook.

Go Cordless



The first thing I do when importing files, is that I never import files onto my laptop itself, but rather my external hard drives. That way my computer runs fast and most efficiently. And I hate being connected to a bunch of cords, so by building smart previews

If you’ve never built smart previews before, and you edit on a  laptop, you’ve got to give this a try!

Lightroom Import Step-by-Step

  1. First import your photos into a Lightroom catalog, but make sure your external drive is connected to your computer.
  2. Go to the top right-hand corner of Lightroom 5+ under “File Handling,” and you’ll see a small check box towards the top of the import module that says “Build Smart Previews.”
  3. Check that before you click import, and then go do something else while it’s building your “standard” previews.
  4. Once it’s finished importing, you can safely eject your external hard drive! You can now make any kind of edits you want without being connected to a bunch of cords – huzzah!
  5. When you’ve finished editing, just plug your external hard drive back in so it can export the biggest, original size files for your clients. Don’t forget this!

And also don’t forget to bring your charger and stay charged! 🙂

This Lightroom Hack Will Make Editing While Traveling So Much Easier!

April 25, 2018


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I'm Helena! As a creative storyteller, I document magical moments through my lens and my pen. A lover of childhood, fairytales and natural light, I'm inspired to share the light around me. I'm the ultimate Disney nerd, and I'm obsessed with cats and expressing my love for the simple joys of slow, daily life.

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Helena Woods is a destination newborn and family photographer based in France and New England and travels worldwide. She is known for her natural light, modern classic, and emotive photography style.