Organizing digital photos: Adobe Lightroom Part II

Finally figured it out.

If you ask me, what really matters to one organizing his/her digital photos in a computer are the following:

  • the digital photos are transferred from your camera/memory cards to the computer (“imported”, “downloaded”)
  • easy retrieval of photo files (for viewing, post-processing and sharing – by email, print or posting in a website). Corollary to this is knowing where exactly those files are residing inside your computer
  • having back-ups, in case the originals get lost/files get deleted/corrupted
  • limitations of computer file storage space

Considering the above, I was finally enlightened by what Adobe Lightroom can do for you.

Save for the factor on computer storage space (that is really something the software can no longer aid you), Lightroom can make a photographer’s life better organized.

I realized what muddled my thinking was quite simple: I was stuck up in the Windows Explorer-frame of mind (not to mention juxtapositioning things with other tasks like photo editing, web publishing, printing and the like.)

It’s actually simple. I did away with what I earlier mentioned as my Windows Explorer-folder-hierarchy thinking and started anew along the following lines:

  1. First, I let Lightroom take charge. I import my photos from the camera/card reader/existing photos into my PC using Lightroom. As you import, you tag your photos (assign keywords to aid you later in retrieving them) and choose your destination folder (one main, root folder like “Canon Pix” is enough.) Also, when you import, you have the option of making a back-up of them into a destination folder you choose.
  2. Retrieving photos is fast: you either use the “folder” or the “find” tabs (employing the tag/keyword/date/filename criteria) at the left column, and the photos appear in no time.
  3. When you get to the editing part, you select a photo, right-click it and edit (“edit a copy”) using Adobe Photoshop. I save it as the “edit” copy file (automatically made by Lightroom). When optimizing for web, I “save it to web” to a pre-assigned “watched” folder which Lightroom automatically imports (see “auto-import settings.”) [P.S. Lightroom has its own editing tools found at the “Develop” mode. You can edit photos without leaving Lightroom. But since I’m more familiar w/ Photoshop editing, I right-click and go that way.]
  4. I then move files within Lightroom’s folder tab at the left column which, surprisingly, alters them, too, in the Windows Explorer tree! Selecting the photos I want to move/delete, I then use the add (+) and delete (-) folder options in Lightroom. This way you can make new “edited” or “for web” folders – actually sub-folders of the master (unedited, raw files) folder. The edited ones are now NOT orphaned from their original, mother files! BTW, you can move files from one folder to another by simply clicking-&-dragging selected photos within Lightroom.
  5. Once you have moved edits & for-web files into the sub-folders, make sure you assign tags and keywords to them.
  6. Further post-processing (like making a web gallery or burning photos to CD/DVD) is simply handled by selecting the photos you like and “adding them to a collection” (which serves as your work-in-progress folder), saving the collection and/or exporting them to a folder from which you can use said photos for other purposes (email, web gallery, etc.)
  7. You can now leave your computer and go shoot new photos.

Hope this helps! 🙂

~ by gerryruiz on 16 November 2007.

6 Responses to “Organizing digital photos: Adobe Lightroom Part II”

  1. This is just what I wanted to know. Quick image searching for the image(s) I want using keyword metadata, keywords, tags. Many thanks, Gerry, for your helpful reports. Seems I am going to become enLightroomed.

    Dick M, France.

  2. Hi Dick. Just a forewarning: I have been using Lightroom 1.3.1 for months now and at one point my catalog grew to over 58,000 photos which made my PC literally crawl! Moreover, the file size of the catalog can easily eat up GB’s of your hard disk space! I broke up my master (big-sized) catalog via the “import-export catalog” feature of Lightroom into several smaller catalogs. Now I’ve organized my files by dates (one catalog for 2006, another for 2007…) for easier/lighter file management. Also, before you import from catalog or export catalog, make sure you save its metadata otherwise you would lose all your keytagging work done on earlier versions of your catalog. Just a tip. 🙂

    The downside of this (maintaining several catalogs) is when you search for photos using tags & keywords, you have to open several catalogs. 😦 I’d rather do it this way, though, rather than work using a huge catalog which freezes at times and risk having corrupted files.

  3. I’m new to Lightroom and have “lost” some RAW files which I have been unable to locate anywhere. Lightroom is supposed to be non-destructive. So, I’m thinking those pictures have to be some where. Might you have anysuggestions?Any help would be most appreciated

    • Thanks for dropping by, Pete. First of all, may I know if you used Lightroom to transfer your photos into your computer? You can start looking at Lightroom folders (subfolders within Lightroom) at Programs (PC) or Applications (if using a Mac). Another tack is: try simulating all over again importing photos into your computer and this time, do it slowly – pause at each step – and carefully note down the default location settings which appear on each Lightroom interface. In most likelihood, your photos could be there.

  4. thanks for your reply. As a new Lightroom user I’m baffled. I know LR is a non destructible piece of software- BUT I seem to have lost a bunch of pictures right off the bat. They were imported correctly (they were RAW files) and I saw them inside LR. But now they have vanished. I don’t see them anywhere. I’ve performed a search, looked at files everywhere. The only possible place they might have gone is into my cache as these seem to be the right number of pictures, but they are corrupted i’m sure. Do you have any thoughts on this? Many thanks,

    • Have you tried right-clicking on a photo inside LR? This opens a window which contains “Show in Finder” (in Mac) or “Show in Explorer” (in PC’s). I remember coming across some glitches of this kind in some LR forums in the net; I just can’t remember where. I suggest you do a Google search on it. 😉

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