Using The Pick and Reject Flags in Lightroom to Organize

How to use the Pick and Reject flags in Lightroom to organize your images.

The first step before color correcting your images in Lightroom is to cull them, or go through the photos and make your selections. Although Lightroom doesn’t have the perfect set of tools for doing this first edit there are a few quick ways to use Lightroom to make your picks by using the pick and reject flags. This is a quick way to edit down a shoot by grouping together the images that don’t make the cut and you want to delete. As a side note sometimes it is a good idea to have someone else do this editing step for you. Since you shot the photos you can be emotionally tied to the images and tend to want to keep more than you really should. Especially for portrait work and weddings I always suggest cutting down the images to the strongest images you have. This gives your work the most impact and will make the biggest impression on your client.

Keyboard Shortcuts For Flags

P – Flag an image as Picked.
X – Flag an image as Rejected.
U – Remove any flags from an image.

How to use the Pick and Reject flags in Lightroom

Here is one way to use the pick and reject flags in Lightroom to do your first edit.

1) First make sure you are in the Libary module in Lightroom and click on the Grid view (or use the keyboard shortcut G)
2) Make sure you can see the Library Filter bar above your photos by clicking the backslash key (\).
3) Click the Attribute link to show the flag filters above the photos. What you select here will filter the results that are shown in the grid view. If you select the first 2 flags (Flagged for your picks and unflagged for the ones you still need to go through). This basically will remove the rejects as you set them as a reject.

4) If you would like to save this preset for future use just click on the Custom Filter link right below the Library button. Choose Save Current Setting as New Preset and give it a name.
5) Now you are ready to start weeding out the bad photos from the group. I start with setting the size of my thumbnails to a pretty large size so I can see 2 rows of 4.

lightroom sorting

6) Starting at the top I use the arrow keys to scroll through the images. When I come to a reject just click the X key to move this into your reject group and the photo will disappear from this view.
7) When you are all done go to Library –> Filter by Flag –> Rejected Photos Only. This will show you all of your rejects and you can select all and hit delete to move them to the trash.

reject filter lightroom

8 ) Now you are left with your picks remaining to start processing.

Advanced Lightroom Filtering Tip

One thing that I like to do with my culling process is to not only cut out my rejects but also decide the images that are going to be processed in Black & White, Color or an artistic tone. Depending on the style of your work and processing you can create as many ‘groups’ as needed. One way to further sort your images is to use the color tags. I tag my Black & White images with Red and the artistic tone images with Yellow. For the images that will be processed in color I leave them unmarked. Then when you are ready to do your color correcting you can filter by color and work on each group separately. That way you can apply a preset to the entire group (check out our Black and White Lightroom presets) and then quickly make any local adjustments to each image. It will speed up your workflow by working on the images in groups. You can set a color flag to your images and there are keyboard shortcuts for these colors also.

6 – Red
7 – Yellow
8 – Green
9 – Blue

Have a Lightroom question? Just leave a comment below I love to hear your questions.

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Author: Mark

Mark is a fine art wedding and portrait photographer from Northern California. He has been passionate about photography since childhood and started his studio 12 years ago to bring a fresh style of photography to the wedding and portrait world.

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1 Comment

  1. I usually don’t delete rejected photos, but move them into another folder in case I will need any of them. I use Irfanview for picking and rejecting. It has shortcuts to move files that you are viewing.

    Only after this I import files into lightroom.

    Good article, but I guess I’m going to stick to my method 🙂


  1. Some Of Our Top Lightroom Tips and Tutorials | Digital Photo Buzz - Digital Photography reviews and tips - [...] Using The Pick and Reject Flags in Lightroom to Organize – Lightroom is not only a way to edit…

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