Lightroom Workflow: Creating Contacts
by Ken Milburn
Now, time was when I really didn't like contact sheets much because they had too many drawbacks. The images were all tiny (1 X 1.5 inches if I shot 35mm), you had to spin the sheet around to see the verticals properly. Furthermore, there was no practical way to leave out anything or to re-arrange images so that all the verticals, or even all the pictures of one subject, were on one sheet. It was really hard to see the frame numbers and there was no way to label the images any other way than the way the film maker automatically labeled them. Furthermore, the frame numbers were the same for every roll of film and gave you no clue as to which camera shot them.
Now, along comes the Lightroom Print module. It overcomes every one of the problems I just mentioned. It also has some BIG advantages: You can put virtual copies onto your contact sheets. That means that you can show "proofs" of what several variations might look like...or print them for a model's or entertainer's "book." Besides, you can make "custom" contact sheets so that you can choose to show the images at the size and orientation that's best suited to the "look and feel" of the shoot. In other words, you might want lots of the photos crowded onto a single page if you're just looking for changes in expression, lighting, or position over a series of shots. On the other hand, if you're evaluating landscapes or small differences in image texture and content, you may want to have the individual thumbs relatively large.
I've used Lightroom and PDFs for this. Just save your contact sheets as PDFs (in the print dialog, just select "Save As PDF..."). If you use draft mode, you still get high-quality embedded images in the PDF, which are ideal for review with clients. I've used this quite a bit in the past few months and it's a really useful technique.