Managing and Archiving Your Photos, Part Two, Lightroom

Manage and Archive Your Photos – Part 2 –  Importing and Classifying, Lightroom

By Robert Ash,


Our first installment discussed on-disk organization. This installment discusses using your on-disk organization folder structure to organize your images using your program of choice. Adobe® Lightroom® version 2 will be the primary program discussed but some or most principles discussed here can be used in other major programs as well.


This article recommends an efficient workflow for importing images from the camera, using the on-disk folder organization from our first article, and organizing our photos within Adobe Lightroom. We’ll also briefly discuss implementing time-based organization from our subject-based on-disk organization using Lightroom’s powerful Smart Collections feature.


We’ll go step by step through an actual import and in-program organization – importing and organizing photos from my June 2009 photo outings. We visited several locations in Canada and the US.

The steps consist of:

• Importing the files using Lightroom

• Copying the camera RAW files from CF card to disk

• Using Lightroom to create appropriate target folders and move images into them

• Creating collections and Smart Collections in Lightroom to finalize our organization

• Do a first-level time-based organization in Lightroom


Step 1 – Import images from camera into Lightroom

Create a folder 0-ImportThesePhotos (first character is a zero, not an ‘oh’). This is the folder you’ll use whenever you import photos. Zero as the first character in the folder name makes sure that folder sorts to the top in your folder list –in your operating system file browser, in Lightroom or in any other program.

Lightroom allows you to import and duplicate photos in one step. Recommended: Remove the memory card from your camera and plug the card into your computer to save camera batteries.

Choose File > Import (or click the Import button at the bottom left in the Library Module) and select your photos’ location on your camera card. Click Ctrl-A (PC) or Cmd-A (Mac) to select all the images on the card. Clicking the Choose button will open the Import Photos dialog window:

Lightroom Dialog Box

Lightroom Dialog Box

In the Import Photos dialog window:

• File Handling: Copy Photos to a New Location and Add to Catalog

• Copy To: Click Choose… then choose the folder 0-ImportThesePhotos

• Organize: Into One Folder (If you have multiple image folders on your card then choose By original folder). Keep Don’t Import Suspected Duplicates checked.

• Backup To: Leave unchecked if your camera’s card can be your backup for now. If you need to re-use your card right away then check the box and select a backup destination.

• File Naming:

• Template: Select Edit… from the drop-list to change the file names while importing.

• The new filenames will appear in the folder 0-ImportThesePhotos as the files are copied to your computer, yet keep their original names on your camera card.

•  Change the file names to something more descriptive, like their final destination on-disk folder name (see Part 1 – On-Disk Organization). I plan to place this batch of photos into a folder called 2009 Columbia River Highway so I edit the File Naming Template so it reads 2009 Columbia River Highway{Filename}.

• Lightroom displays a good number of filename characters in Grid View. I have filenames up to 30 characters long and still have room for a few more characters.

• Information to Apply:

•  Develop Settings: From the drop-list choose any Preset you’d like.

• A Lightroom preset automatically applies a specified set of Develop Module settings to each photo imported (e.g. Exposure, Vibrance, Clarity, Curves, Sharpening).

•  Metadata: I always select a copyright preset I created in the Edit Presets drop list item for the Metadata field.

•  Keywords: Add any useful keywords. Because of my on-disk folder and my Collections naming conventions I typically don’t need keywords to find images. So I typically leave this blank. Do what works best here for your individual retrieval workflow for these images. You can also add keywords later in Lightroom if needed.

Check the Show Preview button on the lower left corner to show your photos’ thumbnails. All photos are checked by default so they will all be imported. If you want to import only a subset of the images (see above image):

• Click the Uncheck All button below the thumbnails

• Click on the first image you want

• Scroll down then Shift-Click (PC) on the final image you want. This will highlight the first and the last photos you clicked on, plus all the images in between. Use Ctrl-click (PC) or Option-click (Mac) to select or deselect individual photos.

• In any of your selected images, click the check box in its upper left corner. This will automatically fill in that check box for all the photo in your selection (i.e., all the highlighted photos)

Now click the Import button. Lightroom will copy the images from your card, rename them and place the renamed copies into the folder 0-ImportThesePhotos.

An important side benefit is that you’ve imported your photos and created a backup copy of your card in one step! Once you copy your imported photos to a permanent backup location (or ideally, to two backup locations, one onsite and one offsite) then you can safely erase your camera’s card and use it again.

Step 1, Importing, is now done!

Step 2, in the next post: – Organize Images in Lightroom will discuss creating managing your on-disk folders using Lightroom’s Folders panel, plus some very useful applications of a powerful Lightroom feature – Collections.

NOTE:  New Photoshop Workshops coming up – click here for details.


2 thoughts on “Managing and Archiving Your Photos, Part Two, Lightroom

  1. Pingback: Robert Ash :: Managing and Archiving Photos in Lightroom, Pt 2 at Imaging Insider

  2. Pingback: Daily Watch :: Tutorial/Tips/Photographers (July 12, 2009) at Imaging Insider

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