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How to Rate Photos in Lightroom

Published: 06/05/2021

Image attribution is a great way to pick up the pace during post-production. If you have captured hundreds of images, sorting through your collection is easier if you use the rating system in Lightroom. Understanding how to rate photos in Lightroom will come in handy when you need to pick specific pictures among many.

How to Rate Photos in Lightroom for a Quick Workflow

Lightroom allows you to flag, rate, and label your photos as a practical method for image attribution. Here, we will focus on using the star rating system and its best practices. Like other intuitive features, Lightroom has the star rating system to facilitate a speedy and meaningful workflow.

Star ratings in Lightroom are a visual marking that tells the difference between images. You can give from 1 to 5 stars to the photos to identify them for specific purposes. Rating perception for each photographer varies, in most cases, it boils down to giving fewer stars to less preferred images and vice versa.

Utilizing the star rating to the fullest is a wise way to organize your photos and streamline your post-production. Once you start using rating as an initial step in your Lightroom workflow, you will notice a significant improvement in your working speed. 

Star Rating in the Grid View of Library Module

The image organization process mostly happens in the Library module of Lightroom. You have multiple options here to view your photos, like the Grid view, Loupe view, Survey view, or the Compare view. All of these views allow you to give a star rating, but the Grid view is the most preferred among many photographers.

The Grid view is a tiled view of all the thumbnails of your images. You can increase or decrease the thumbnail size from the slider at the bottom right above the filmstrip. Once the thumbnails are clearly visible to you, you can begin giving stars to your images.

  1. Select a photo in the Grid. 
  2. Press 1-5 on your keyboard to rate it with the corresponding number of stars. 
  3. Alternatively, right-click on the image and select Set Rating. 
  4. Give the appropriate rating by selecting it in the drop-down menu. 
Setting a rating for a photo in Lightroom

You can also multi-select images in Grid to rate them. 

  1. Click on an image, hold down SHIFT, and click on the last image for selecting a series of images.
  2. Press CMD + A (on Mac) or CTRL + A (on Windows) to select all images in a folder or collection. 
  3. Hold down the CMD key on Mac or CTRL key on Windows and keep clicking on photos that you want to select.
  4. Once multiple photos are selected, go up to the Photo menu.
  5. Select Set Rating and rate all these photos accordingly. 
Rating multiple images in Lightroom
  1. You can also click on the small dots on any of the image thumbnails to rate them 1-5. Clicking on one to rate will automatically rate the other selected photos similarly.

Library Toolbar

In the Library toolbar, you can enable the rating by clicking on the down arrow beside the thumbnails slider. Check the option of Rating. You can now view the rating stars in the toolbar. Use it to rate single/multiple photos in the Library simply by clicking on the specific number of stars you want to give to an image.

Lightroom library toolbar

Painter’s Tools

The painter’s tool is present in the Library toolbar. It speeds up the rating process in a smart way. Just click on the painter’s tool and select rating from the drop-down menu beside it. Choose the number of stars, and your painter’s tool will convert into a one-click rating cursor. 

Click on any image, and it will give it the subsequent rating that you have selected. 

Star Rating in the Compare, Loupe, or Survey View

For those who find the Grid view unsuitable for properly viewing the images, they can use the Compare, Loupe, or Survey view to rate the photos. The advantage of these views is that you can view bigger-sized images to completely analyze the picture before giving it a star. 

In the Compare view, select two images and rate the selected one after comparison. To identify which image is the active one, look for a white frame surrounding it. The same goes for the Survey view, where you can compare more than two photos at a time. 

Rating photos in Lightroom's Survey View mode

Remember that any rating that you give in the compare, survey, or loupe view will be applied to the active image only. 

How to Use Star Rating

As we said earlier, the star rating is used differently by different photographers. For instance, photographers who sell their photos on various platforms to make money from their photography skills may rate photos according to the selling platform like 1 star for stock websites, 2 stars for magazines, and so on.

To explain to you the concept of rating,  here is a guiding approach that may apply to Lightroom Classic CC users in general.

  1. Images with 0 stars are perceived as unrated. You can leave the unrated photos for the reject flag to remove them from Lightroom later.
  2. Images with 1 star may be considered as ones that may require a second look to see if they are actually needed or not.
  3. Give 2 stars to images that might be usable, but you decide not to waste time editing them.
  4. Images with 3 stars may have the potential to elevate to four stars after editing or go down to two stars if they are not good enough after editing.
  5. Images with 4 stars are selected ones that will be sent to the client after editing.
  6. Images with 5 stars are the finest among the lot. Some of them may go directly to the client even without the need to edit them. 

Filter Star Rated Images

Ratings on the images make them easily searchable in Lightroom using the Filter Bar on top of the Library view. This feature is especially useful if you are using the rating system to pick out your best images. For instance, you can start giving 1 star to all the potential images in the grid. You can then use the Attributes section of the filter bar to filter all the one-star images.

Filtering Lightroom images using the rating system

After that, you can start analyzing these images and increase the rating of better ones. Use the filter bar again to select two-starred images. Carry one the process until you are left with the top-rated images you want to use. 

Remove Star Rating From Images

If you want to unrate the photos, select single/multiple images in the grid view. Right-click on any of them and choose Set Rating > None to remove any rating that you have given them. 

Alternatively, you can click on stars in the thumbnails to remove the rating. 

Increase or Decrease Star Rating

If you are in the process of elevating or decreasing the ratings of previously rated photos, a quick way to increase the rating is by pressing ] on the keyboard. Decrease the stars by pressing [ on the keyboard.

Rating Images Before Batch Editing 

Although it is possible to rate your photos while you edit them, it negates the concept of streamlines image handling of Lightroom. Significantly better workflow can be achieved by going through the rating process first and then editing the specifically rated images that you have decided to process.

Conclusion

All the shortcuts and tips we have given regarding the rating system in Lightroom will accelerate your workflow, making post-production highly intuitive. Remember to go back to your collections after some time and change the ratings of images for organizing purposes. In this way, your Lightroom catalog will remain neat and consistent. 

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