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Creative Composites Using Your Own Photo Stock

Lesson 4 of 12

Storing And Organising Your Stock Collection

Karen Alsop

Creative Composites Using Your Own Photo Stock

Karen Alsop

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Lesson Info

4. Storing And Organising Your Stock Collection
Harness the power of Adobe Lightroom CC to store your entire stock collection and find anything without needing to keyword. Understand how to export your stock and retain Raw information (non destructive editing) in an Adobe Lightroom CC to Photoshop workflow.

Lesson Info

Storing And Organising Your Stock Collection

I'm now going to show you how to use Light Room C. C. This is the online version to import, managed to find images to export out to Photoshop for use in your compositing work Now I love harnessing the power of Light Room C. C. And I store all of my images from many, many years. My stock images that I've collected in this program. And the first thing I want to show you is why I do that here. You can see my Light Room CC catalog now. I actually have in here 35,000 images that I have imported. And many of those are just a really big assortment of stock that I have collected. So every time I go out and I photographed something, I then bring it in to light room. See see now what I used to do is order my stock by having lots of different folders, uh animals, for example characters, maybe nature. And I put them into folders and I would then carry around a external hard drive to try and add to that. And I was finding that it was just chaotic. I don't know about you, but I am not someone that r...

eally enjoys the key wording part of things or organizing part of things. But I know that when you want to come back and find something that you photographed, it does make it easier, particularly if you're using my room Classic or something else along those lines. But the power of light Room C C means that I don't need to keyword anything at all. So, I am going to go into all photos on Light Room C. C. And I am going to type a word now. Imagine that I've photographed many animals over the years. And I have I photographed many kangaroos actually. So I am going to type kangaroo into my search. And what's going to come up is anything that it thinks is a kangaroo for the most part gets it pretty right because it is based on a I search so I can now go through and it doesn't matter when I photographed it, I can find all of my kangaroos in here. Sometimes other animals do pop up. But that's okay. So when I find a photo from a series that I want to go back to, I don't need to try and find the folder. Here's what you do. So, for example, the photo shoot that I did of the homeless Joey. I can then just click on one of the results from that series. So, I know that this was one of those. And then I close my search and it takes me straight to that part of my catalog. All that timing of my catalog. So then I can go through and find all of the photos from that series. So it just makes it so easy to find things Now. Maybe you want to create a folder so that you come back to it. So you can do that as well. For example, what if I wanted to collect all of the skies that I've photographed over the years. What you would do is typing Sky let it find all of the skies and in my case there are going to be quite a lot. So at the moment it's up to 5000. So once they have all loaded go back in there and I'll collect them all and I'll put them in a collection or a folder so I'll show you how that works alright. It's found all the skies 5464. So I can scroll through and I can see so many skies in there so it's found things that aren't just skies. So the next thing you might want to do is choose out another keyword like clouds. So now it's going to search for clouds within that sky search. So then you can narrow down your search you can go sky clouds and then we're going to add blue and then we're going to create a folder of blue cloudy skies. Let's type blue and added to S. H. So once it's narrowed down to blue cloudy skies will create a folder and we will share that with someone else or with the public so that they can then use that folder they can reference to it. And if you want to give them access that they can download. All right So I am going to select all. And the next thing that I can do is to share and invite or create a folder. I'm going to create a folder or an album in here. Now I can I have folders in here. So already I've got Nature. So if I click down on there, I have some skies in there already. But I want to create a new album of these guys. So we create album. Do we want to include them? Yes, we do. So Blue Cloudy Skies is my title. We add them. It's not copying those files, it's just adding them to their album. Now that we've gone to this album, we can go through and find all of these guys. Now. We might want to share this with someone else. So we go to share and invite, we can even create a web page of these clouds, creating a shareable link. Now, you can add private email addresses. If you don't want to share it with the public or you can customize on the web. So you can even have a look at a theme and how you want it to look for other people on the web. You can change the settings as well. So if we go back to Light Room and we click on the settings, we might want to allow jpeg downloads so that people can download and use these images. Whether how does having to do anything else? Like export them. If we edit one of these photos, it will reflect that. Edit on the web site. So to give you an example, I'm going to double click this and I'm going to go into my settings and this is just like any raw editing software like capture one Dobie classic even camera raw in adobe Photoshop. So I'm just going to make some quite obvious changes so that you can see it reflected on the web. So once I've made those changes, it will reflect here and On the one I share right here. So any edits are going to happen straight away for anyone that you were sharing your work with. So as I said before I download my stock collection, the photos that I take straight away to light room and then that's reflected on my other devices, so other computers because it's all on the web. So once it's uploaded I can access those photos from anywhere. You can even log into the web based version of Light room and access your photos on any device. Even if you're not running Light Room Creative Cloud now you can import your photos either direct from your hard drive if you've already copied them or from your card or your card reader. So I'll first show you how I would import from my card reader on light room. So we just go up to add photos and down to Nikon Z seven and you can see the photos I took when we were photographing the costumes uh there. So I will import them. There are also rules so they are N. E. S. I really highly recommend always shoot in raw because then you have all the image data there to work with. So shooting with jpeg flattens out your data and you can't push and pull it. And when you're compositing you want all of that image information there. So we're going to add the image is now the way that I do it as I said before unless I really need to put them all in one folder. I tend not to bother even putting them in a folder or key wording them because I can very easily find them later when I do a search. So if I go now to all photos and right up to the top I have these images here now I can double click on them. I can edit them right here before I take them anywhere and I would then take them into Photoshop once I work out which one I want. So if I go ad and then browse You just need to find where your images are. There is one MP for I'm not going to bring that in just because I know I don't want to in my stock collection but you can bring videos into Light Room Creative Cloud if you want. These are the photos that we took out on location that we're going to use to create brushes from and textures and all sorts of things throughout this class. So I'm going to add those in now and when they're finished importing I'm going to create a folder of all of these elements so that I can easily come back to them as we go through the class. So now they're all in but they are currently uploading to the clout. Now that doesn't stop me using them. You'll see that these are uploading and it has to sink The 55 photos. But these are currently on my hard drive. Once they're uploaded they won't be stored on my hard drive anymore. So when I download something that's coming off the Internet might take a little bit longer. Currently if I export this out it will be quicker because it's still referencing it from my hard drive. But I'm going to create a collection from these and I'm gonna put them into a folder so that we can get back to them later. So I have a W. I. P. Projects collections which is work in progress and I'm just gonna pop it under here for now. So I'm going to create a new folder and we'll call this one Creative Life. And under here I'm going to create an album, textures and elements. The easy way to bring all these in is to just go in to all photos, select the ones that you want and you can just drag that down to your album Now when the key points I want to make right here and I want you to pay attention is that if you click edit in Photoshop that will flatten your image and you will no longer have the raw data, it will no longer be a smart object. The best way to work with images and elements in Photoshop is to have them as smart objects where you can go back into camera and edit that raw data. So let me show you the way I do it there, it is a two step process but it will keep that image data intact. So first of all go into one of these textures and as I said, you can edit all of the image information already in light room but because we are going to keep this raw data intact doesn't really matter because we can do this editing in camera raw. Now there are a few selections when you right click, you can export the photo, you can export it as a Jpeg and there is this other one edit in Photoshop at this present time that will flatten your image and will not keep it as a raw file. Now that may change in the future, but for now I will go to export one photo original and settings what that does is it keeps the raw data intact where I want it on the hard drive, that's up to me and that's up to you as well. But what I'm going to do is create a new folder in this location and then I know that as I'm exporting out my image files, my raw files going to the same place, click create and then I'm going to export this original raw photo out. Now any edits that I did on here will be reflected when I bring it into Photoshop because it is keeping the settings so that's what original plus settings. That's the settings that you changed. They will stay together. So when you open that in Photoshop, you will have all those changes already done. Okay. The next thing that I like to do is actually use bridge. I can then have that as a link between my light room catalog and Photoshop. Now I know this seems like it's a two step process. But as I said before at this current time there is no way to open as a smart object directly from light room Creative Cloud. That may change now I go into here. This is where my folder is and I can simply double click it and it should open in the software that it's linked to which for me is the latest version of Photoshop. But you want to double check that open in Photoshop 2021 default. Yes. Okay. Now the next thing that is going to happen is it is going to open in camera raw. So before it opens in Photoshop it's going to go into camera and it's going to give you some settings that you want to make sure you have changed to what I'm about to show you if you don't, you might find that it still opens as a flat file or as an eight bit file when you want 16 bit. So let's take a look at these settings once you've done this once it will hold as long as you're using the same computer, but you need to do this on every computer that you run so import right here down the bottom of the screen, you can see it says import, click on that. Once you click on that, you will see a couple of sections that you want to change now by default. This section here says open in Photoshop as a smart object is not it, You need to make sure that you take that. And the other bit that you want to change is right here by default it's eight bits, Change it to 16 bits. Now, the reason that you do that is again, it's got to do with image data and having the most that you can work with the most detail, especially if you're working with skies or gradients, you'll find that if you work in eight bit, you've got less image data, there are a lot less and you might see banding, particularly your printing. So I always work in 16 bits. I do work in Adobe RGB. So I do work in that cross all of my settings from camera through the print and then open in Photoshop as smart objects. So what that does is right down here, right below me. It says open object. Open object rather than open image. Smart objects are the key to working non destructively keeping everything as raw files will really help to maintain the integrity of your composite and it will mean that you can always go backwards. You can adjust, you can adjust, you can adjust again and not degrade your work. So now you can see that this image is a smart object because it has that little icon down the bottom there. That icon means that you can open up and make the adjustments that you want. You can even do this after you've masked and you can go back and those adjustments will be reflected. So let me show you what I mean by masking it and then being able to do it. I'm just gonna use the lasso tool and create a selection and create a mask. Now I can still go into my raw file and make my adjustments. Press OK and it's changed but it still retains the mask. So it gives you so much control over your photo no matter what part of your compositing stage you are in. So I hope that gives you a clear picture of the power of light room and how you can store your images and always come back and find what you're after no matter what. And use those images within Photoshop to create nondestructive composites.

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers. 


  • Photograph textures, atmosphere and elements that you can use in composites.
  • Easily manage your own photo stock library.
  • Shoot miniatures and focus stack.
  • Supersize phone photos and use them in your composites.
  • Create photoshop patterns and brushes.
  • Photograph costumes and dress your subjects in Photoshop.
  • Find creative ways to make anything possible.


There is nothing like the feeling of creating art from your own images. Purchased stock can be a valuable resource, but it shouldn’t be the first solution when you are working on a creative composite.

Learn how to creatively photograph elements that become other elements in a composite. Turn miniatures into life sized elements. Photograph incredible costumes and dress your subjects in Photoshop. Create brushes, textures and patterns from photos that you can use over and over again. Be resourceful and creative in your hunt for elements, and take your compositing to the next level.

These techniques will open up a world of possibilities for your image creation, where anything is possible.


  • Composite Photographers who would like to expand their creativity
  • Photographers that would like to take a leap into the compositing world
  • Anyone that is looking for fresh and unique ways to bring their imaginations to life


Adobe Photoshop 2021 (22.5.0)
Lightroom CC (4.4)
Adobe Bridge 2021


Karen Alsop is an internationally acclaimed Melbourne, Australia-based photographic digital artist. Expanding on two decades of photographic and graphic design experience, Karen brings photography and art together to create stunning artworks that tell a story and take the viewer into another world.

Specializing in Portrait Art, her digital portraiture captures the personality and character of her subjects by placing them within a visual story highlighting their interests. Karen uses the power of Photoshop to composite multiple captures together, making the impossible possible within her art.

Karen's latest project sees her using her compositing skills to give children with severe disabilities the wings to fly. The Heart Project, a joint partnership between Story Art and The Sebastian Foundation is bringing hope worldwide to children and families through the power of photography.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Story Art Education Offer

Actions and Brushes

Camera Files


Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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Charlene Mitchell

WOW! I'm not familiar with Karen's work so this was a wonderful surprise! Loved the detail she included in her instruction and her passion shows through in every topic! So many tips and tricks to help 'sell' the finished piece as believable - details I wouldn't have thought of. Going to check out her other class on CL and also her website!

Melissa Helland

Can’t tell you how much I appreciate all I’ve learned from this teacher. Wonderful classes here on Creative Live and her site has even more learning opportunities. Worth every penny of my Creative Live membership just for this class alone!

Cristina Menor

Karen is an excellent teacher. Her lessons are always very well explained and very easy to understand and to follow. You will learn lots of valuable tips. I absolutely recommend this class if you want to learn how to create incredible compositions very near to reality.