"Oh, yes, wait a minute Mister Postman…"
It's been some time since those lyrics came out of speakers everywhere. Yet, mail, in its many forms, is still an important means of communication. Today, of course, we use email. In previous versions of Lightroom there was an email export preset that helped to gather images that we could attach to our emails. We soon discovered that some email clients would accept the output of the export preset and we added them as the Post-processing action and that smoothed the workflow a bit.
Lightroom 4 Beta has added an email feature which promises to develop into a nice workflow solution. At first glance it is still very much in the beginning phase. That is it is marginally useful. However, the fact that the Lightroom team has added the feature is encouraging. So let's take a look at how it works.
Suppose we have done some headshots for an up and coming actor. We've talked about the shots and he has asked to see the final image, a soft proof, and a black & white version for a poster. We select the images in preparation for emailing smaller versions in order to get some feedback.
At the top you can add a Cc field, Bcc field, or access your address list (1). You can set up multiple email accounts to send from and choose them from the dropdown (2). There are full formatting features available as well as an optional ruler (3). The images you have chosen appear below the message body. If you have captioned your images you can elect to include those captions as descriptive labels (4). And, finally, you can decide what size and quality the images should be when attached.
All this is pretty neat. One of the things at the moment that makes this a bit less useful than it could be is the address list. Right now it is a totally independent list that does not read from your address book, doesn't automatically remember addresses you send emails to, and has no provision for synching to any other address list. Disappointing. But as I said, this is a first step.
Back to our example. Here is our finished email to the client.
Lightroom can fill in the server details for you for AOL Mail, Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo Mail. If you are setting up an account on your own server choose Other and provide the details. Put in your address and password then press Validate.
One more thing to note. If you choose a native email client (such as Apple Mail, Outlook, Thunderbird, etc.) then the message body field will not be presented. Instead, once you fill out the remaining options Lightroom will hand off the email to your email client for you to enter a message and send.
It's a start! I hope this feature gets some attention from the team and grows in its functionality. In any event, give it a try and let me know what you think.