How to Do Web Culling in Lightroom

How to Do Web Culling in Lightroom

Lightroom does some things really well, but one area I always wished I had more control over was web culling. After some investigation, here's the best method I've found for efficiently sending out photos for clients to peruse and select.

A few years ago, when I was in music school, I used to shoot photos whenever I went to a recital just for my own memories and to share with friends. Eventually, my school contacted me because they wanted to purchase some of the photos to use in publications and promotional materials. At the time, Lightroom had no web-based capabilities, so I just exported web-sized versions of a few thousand photos and put them in a giant Flickr album for the school to choose from. Their response was something like this:

Hi, Alex! We would like to purchase the following images: 67, 189, 4012, 678, 1983...

I then had to go back and hand-match these numbers to the corresponding files. I didn't want to give up using Lightroom as my catalog, but this was tedious and seemed entirely unnecessary. Then, with the dawn of web albums, I found the best solution thus far. 

The Method

(Note: you need to be a Creative Cloud subscriber to use this method.)

1. Create an email address for clients to use as a login. It looks more professional to use an email address associated with you personally; for example, I used my domain name and created a dummy email address:

2. Create a free Adobe ID with the email address. Be sure to change the password for each new client.

3. Create a new collection with the selected photos and be sure that the collection is synced to Lightroom Mobile. 

4. Right-click on the collection in the left sidebar and select "Make Collection Public." I've never seen my collections indexed in search engines; so, this appears to operate much like an unlisted YouTube video, but nonetheless, if you're working with sensitive material, you might want to reconsider this method.

5. Right-click on the collection in the left sidebar and select "Copy Public Link." This is the link you'll be sending to the client. 

6. Send the client this link with the login information for the guest account you created. 

7. When the client clicks on the link and logs in, they'll be presented with this view:

8. From there, the client can click on any image and use the "heart" icon in the bottom left corner to mark the image as one they would like. 

9. Once they're done this, you'll see a small comment icon over the image while in grid view in the Library module.

10. Now, make sure the bottom toolbar is showing, then use the sort options to select "Last Comment Time." This will place any image that the client liked or commented on first in the order.

11. All you have to do now is find the spot where the comment icons stop; every image before this point is an image the client selected.

Notice how the middle image is the last image with a comment icon on it. This image and every image before it was selected by the client.

12. Be sure to change the password for the account for each new client.

How This Could Be Improved

I really wish Adobe offered the option to create smart collections based on whether an image had likes or comments or not, which would automate the last three steps of this process. If this is implemented in the future, I'll be sure to update this article to make this process even easier. 

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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Cool. Although this method may help, it looked more like a "hack" than a service provided by Adobe. I'm curious about others methods... I heard about Pixieset, but never tried to incorporate in my workflow. I'm still trying to find something that suits better for me. Any other suggestions? Currently I upload selected photos with basic treatments to send for clients to make a final selection.

This would be great even just for when I send weddings to my culling partner. Instead of having to export a smart previews catalog (which takes time to render and copy).

You guys here a t fstoppers, have sponsored Cloud Spot some time ago, in the great $3900 camera giveway. From then i'm using it and i'm in love with it, and my clients love it too. A great method to do web culling !

I'm using Cloudspot as well. While it's not perfect, the best feature is that the client can "favorite" the ones they want edited. The app lets me copy the list of file names and I just paste that into the find in LR. Set it to "filename" and "contains any" and you have your client picks :)

I am still disappointed that Adobe has not stepped up their web game at all. I would think they could make a great way to do this using their own cloud storage.

pixieset works great. even has a LR plugin.
I havent gotten around to try out cloudspot yet.

Excellent! Have been looking for ways to filter the liked photos inside LR for AGES, so point number 10 is a bit of a life saver. Although I hope Adobe will make it easier/more intuitive in the future...

I use this product and it's great! A lot of options and maybe a little steep of a learning curve, but once you have a template you like, its a real time saver.

I'm using it too: TTG client response gallery. I love it. You get a hard time customizing it to fit the look and feel and the behavior you require. But you do this just once for all.

I've been using TTG for almost a decade. They guy is pretty cool and very responsive. I agree, it's not the prettiest but it's been the best performing software for proofing and culling.

Back when fotomoto was a good/viable company, I would sell prints from TTG galleries. That was before fotomoto went to poop.

I use LR plugins from that let me upload a gallery in which clients or colleagues can pick their favourites and/or comment on each image. When they are done an email is sent to me containing the picked filenames in a comma-separated list that can be cut and pasted into LRs search box.
I use their ebay-based webshop too. I love their stuff and have been using it for years.
Here's an example :

I believe it's still in beta but a friend of mine created a proofing system that's very close to being awesome:

Hi Alex,

Matthew here, from The Turning Gate. I'm happy to see some of our users have already beaten me to posting comments about our client proofing solutions. If you'd like to check out our CE4 Client Response Gallery, please drop me a line. I'd love to talk to you about it, and for you to try it for yourself. You can drop me a line from here, and I'll be sure to follow up:


Why not just use Photodeck. Having Photodeck as your website and image proofing/delivery system is a professional solution. Really easy to do with the Lightroom plugin.

Hello Alex, the last time that I made a "collection" public(about 1 week ago) my client didn't have to create a Creative Cloud account to view the collection in a browser. Just followed the link that I provided them. I think that Adobe removed the requirement to have a Creative Cloud account to view web collections. Also, you left out one very important thing...there's a setting to turn off "allow web downloads" to the client(allows client to download files by default). If you don't disable this feature your client will be able to download any files they want. Just a heads up!!!

Hi Alex,

Check out Evlaa (,
We build it to speed up the photos selections with clients.

It is based on a Lightroom publishing service and it's very easy to use for both side.
You, and your clients, will save a lot of time, you will offer them a great experience and you will avoid a lot of errors as you retrieve the selected photos directly into Lightroom.

You can try it for free :-)

Let me know what you think