Free and Easy Way to Import a Client’s Photo List

While I wouldn’t call myself a photographer, I tend to have a photography gig every now and then. When dealing with a client regarding photography, I use It’s a (relatively) simple set up that allows me to share photos with a client so that they can choose which photos I’ll process and eventually hand over to them. The first step is to upload a big batch of semi-uncorrected material. I use the word “semi” because any photographer knows you don’t share everything—we cull through the first batch before any other eyes ever see it, to weed out anything that is unnecessary (i.e. spray and prays, bad focus, forgotten lens cap…).

The next step is for a client to make selects. Zenfolio has an amazing feature where all you have to do as a client is hit the ‘f’ key and it will favorite the photo. Then you can send out the favorited list to the photographer (some clients still just write down the number for me…not as fluid, but still not so time consuming). The photographer then gets an email about the list, and we’re able to see what was selected.

Here’s where things get tricky. You could pay for a premium account on Zenfolio to get a list imported, which is a plugin that works with Lightroom. If you’re a photographer by trade, and this is how you make the bulk of your income, it’s probably a wise decision to go ahead and upgrade. I work primarily as a cinematographer/camera operator, so still photography isn’t where I put all of my funds. I have a basic account, so I had to get thrifty.

If you’re like me and you need to save a few dollars, there’s still a pretty easy way of taking a bulk list of client selects and getting them into a Smart Collection in your Lightroom library.

Step One: Download the files.

1 Favorite

2 Download_All

3 Download

It sounds counter intuitive. Download pictures that I already uploaded…Well, as far as I can tell, it’s still the easiest way to proceed. If you’re reading this and you have a simpler method of attaining all the file names, please let me know!

Step Two: Copy the list

4 Select All Copy

In Mac OS X, it’s very simple to get a filename list copied to plain text. Simply Command+a (Edit > Select All) the files in the unzipped folder from Zenfolio, then Command+c (Edit > Copy). Now paste into any text editor (Command+p). I use BBedit. This is where it might get a little tricky…


Step Three: Sort and Process the text

5 Paste List

Now we’ve got a big list of filenames! But, they have extensions and carriage returns which don’t play very well with this Lightroom work around. If you know grep or any other such search and replace tool, this should be a breeze. It’s really a simply process—we’re telling our computer to search for the carriage returns (next line) and the “.jpg” in the filename (known as the file extension), and replacing them with a space. If you’re adventurous enough to learn a simple find and replace technique, here is my (very very rudimentary) processes in BBedit.

6 Search and Replace

Hit command+f to bring up the Find dialog box in BBedit. Type “.jpg\r” in the find text field, and make sure to type one space in the replace field (for techies out there, the typical grep language for a space—”\s”—didn’t seem to work for me, but I haven’t done this in a long time).

7 Get all replace

Also note that with my find and replace above, there will be one last dangling file extension (as seen highlighted above) that I was able to quickly delete.

Now that we’ve got our file list fixed, select all and copy.

Step Four: Make a Smart Collection

Screen Shot 2014-04-02 at 7.31.19 PM

Open up Lightroom, and make a new smart collection. Make a new rule using “Filename,” and make sure the next drop down (parameters?) is set to “contains.” Simply paste the copied list of files (from the previous step) in to the next text field. And you should be good to go! Lightroom seems to allow spaces as an ‘or’ which allows this to work pretty well.

9 Start Editing

That’s it—Now start processing!