Skip to main content

First-Time Import

Lesson 4 from: How To Get and Stay Organized in Lightroom

Tim Grey

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

4. First-Time Import

Lesson Info

First-Time Import

So this session is all about light room and yet it's not until right now that I'm actually really doing anything for riel in light room and that should be used as an analogy for how you walk to approach your own work flowing light room his first stop and learn a little bit about light room think about how you want to organize your images get a sense of what that work flows and what's going to make the most sense for you and then you can get started one seat to find some of that work for now I haven't obviously talked about everything when it comes to that work flow kind of structuring it we'll talk about it along the way. The key thing is that I have a familiarity I've defined the basic workflow for myself I think it's going to work well or at least I hope so and so now I feel that I'm ready to begin all right, so now we can click the import button to begin and this is my one time on lee import in delight room for all my existing images so there's two basic categories of import there's...

the I'm a new user of light room this is the first time I'm just getting started started and so I need to import all my existing stuff in delight room everything all three hundred thousand images all at once no problem then there's going to be pictures that I take on an ongoing basis and those will be handled in a little bit different way so let's go ahead and get started with all of my existing stuff I'll click the import button and then I need to select the source as it turns out I have these folders out on the desktop and so I'm going to choose that media card one it just so happens these images were captured in alaska will pretend like we just captured these pictures just last week in alaska since we're in seattle it's pretty close right uh actually no I'm sorry I took a step I skipped a step we're going to photos first sorry about them I'm not importing from our media card yet alaska can wait we're going to import our existing photos because we're starting off with all of our existing photos not the new pictures that we've just recently captured so I choose my primary storage location in this case it's that photos folder on my desktop that's pretending to be an external hard drive containing every single picture I've ever taken really it probably contains maybe a couple of hundred at most but again choosing that primary storage location notice that it says no photos found which might cause you to panic just a little bit but it's just that we have not yet included sub folders all turn on the include sub folders checkbox and here is a wild mishmash of images there's, some paris photos and there's, some prague photos and there's, more paris and their san francisco and there's, austria, there's, central park and all sorts of stuff every photo I've ever taken, at least in theory up until this point, so I'm selecting that external hard drive, for example, as the source of images to be imported and then up to the top center, I will simply choose thie ad option one time probably probably the only time I remember going to use thie ad option quite likely we'll talk more about that momentarily, but I'm going to add these images and what that means is I'm not going to move them and I'm not going to copy them. They are already where they belong on my external hard drive, I just want light room to keep track of them for me, so I choose that ad option where my important to just to my catalog because I'm not copying, I'm going to build standard sized previews, we'll talk more about that in a moment I'm not going to build smart previews don't import suspected duplicates, hopefully not much of a problem right now because I'm importing everything I don't have anything in my existing catalog, so hopefully there aren't any duplicates already in my catalog. I'm not going to be able to make a second copy right now. We'll talk about that in a moment to meditate, I'm gonna set to none. We'll talk about meditated presets in a moment. In theory, I want to add my copyright information of these photos, except I actually personally in my situation don't know if all these pictures are actually mine, because I often when I'm leading a workshop, for example, will have other photographers who were on the workshop take pictures of me making a fool of myself, and they will send them to me. And because of my ego issues, I will actually import them into my catalog so that I can use them later or just admire pictures of myself making a fool of myself. Keywords, not a chance name one key word that will apply to every single picture I have ever taken in my entire life. Awesome, thank you. I knew I was going to love this class awesome or tim or something like that. But the problem is it's, a key word that applies to every single image it's also useless because every single image will be a search results for that key word. So in this case, we'll talk about keywords momentarily, but in this case it would be meaningless. Well that was easy I basically just shows the ad option and made sure that the source was set to the correct source not the first time I clicked on the media car but on the photos drive there and I'll click import and like it does all the work that takes virtually no time at all to actually import because it's basically just making a list and computers are very fast in making lists right so it's already made a list now it's building those previews and I'm good to go so every single picture I've ever taken in my entire life at least in theory all ninety three of them in this case has now been added all of them have been added to my light room catalog and I'm off to a great start note by the women hide the navigator for a moment and we'll expand the folder structure here there is a reflection of the exact folder structure that is on my hard drive so I renamed the czech folder to prague and we can see that that is reflected there in theory obviously I would have fixed the names for all of these folders I just haven't gotten around to that yet but light room shows me a reflection of the structure the folder structure on my hard drive so again this is why I feel it's so important to actually name those folders in a way that is meaningful to you so that when you're looking for an image hate him do you have any pictures of empty glass bottles in crates? Why, yes, I photograph that in paris so let's go to the paris folder oh in there to see how fast that wass amazing when you use an example that's right in front of your face how fast you can find it but the point is it very often when I'm looking for a particular image, I'm first thinking, oh a place or a subject or whatever the case may be for me it's usually location again and I could go to that folder and I'm good piece of cake at least in theory but there's more thank goodness there's always more, but first we have to go to alaska there now we're back and now we have some pictures that we took in alaska and we want to add them to our light room catalog. Well, add maybe is not the right ford, but we'll see that in just a second some once again click the import button back to my familiar import dialogue and then I get to choose the media card one that I was trying so hard to import the first time, but now that is the correct source, so normally I wouldn't even have to set the source because normally I would take my media card out of the camera put it into a card reader and plug that into my computer or put it directly into my computer if I were so equipped on my computer what I ever connect my camera directly to the computer and download that way no way not me because you know it's going to happen one of these days I'm gonna trip over that cord I'm gonna knock my camera down to the floor and it's going to get broken plus it's usually a little bit slower compared to the top card readers all right, so I'm going to set that source again it would normally be set for me automatically because would be recognized as a removable media card that contains photos now we come back up to the top center what are we going to do with these images? Well, in theory I want to move them don't talk I want to move them from my media card my compact flash card for example to my external hard drive because when I'm finished I don't want them on my card anymore I want it to be empty so I can take additional pictures on that card yeah that's theory that's not proper paranoia I want to copy because yes, I really do want to move them but not until I'm totally confident I want I don't want to remove them from my media card until I know for sure that I have them copy to my hard drive and another hard drives that I have a backup already. So at that moment, I've got three copies of my images on my card on my hard driving on my additional backup hard drive, very important for those of us who are weirdly paranoid if those photos are like, really amazing, and I think that these air award winning pictures usually I always think that right after I took the pictures, but if I really think that's the case, I might even not reform at that card until later, just to kind of an extra little bit of insurance just to be on the safe side. But again, a minute copy, we also this option to copy as d n g perfectly fine there's some advantages, there's some disadvantages we won't go into extensive detail. Bottom line is that with the dnc file format generally speaking, the file size will be approximately twenty percent smaller than the original raul capture that's hopeful the even think of it as sort of having an ex mp sidecar file built into it. It's not exactly what's happening, but you can think of it that way, so you only have one file instead of two. I'm not worried about that, because I never see my ex mp sidecar files anyway. And so it really does offer some advantages for a synchronization type of backup approach it's a little bit of a disadvantage because now every little change means we have to back up the entire file again rather than just a little ex mp. But for me, it's really very simple if I copy is dan ji am I ever going to be totally comfortable deleting the original images that came out of the camera? No way, and so I just I don't, but there are some advantages to be sure in a lot of photographers prefer that dmg option for a variety of reasons, but I'm simply going to use that copy option, and then I'm going to specify the general location, not the specific location, but the general location where I want to store these images where my copying them, too, and generally speaking, that would just be the external hard drive in this case, it's a fold there pretending to be an external hard drive, but I'm just specifying the general location. We'll see why that's helpful in just a moment, previews we kind of glossed over basically long story for most photographers, I think the standard sized previews is perfect that allows you to see your images at a monitor resolution size you can see the whole image, you can't really zoom in close and get good quality you could at least work with your images in a general way. The one to one previews will be generated automatically whenever you zoom in on the image, and so you don't really need to create them in advance the only situation where I might want to generate them in advance. Those wonder one previews is if I tend to zoom in on every single image, I don't generally need to zoom in on all that many images, and so the standard previews work just great build smart previous smart previous air fabulous if you want to work with your image is off line, so you want to have previews. They're so good in your computer that you can disconnect your hard drive and still working to develop module. I don't tend to work that way, and so I don't generally generate those build smart previous I don't use that build smart previous option, but again, for some situations, that might be very helpful don't import suspect the duplicates we glossed over that the first time because it wasn't even an option. Now it's an option and it's potentially helpful, at least hypothetically. Now I've never made this mistake. I should really underscore that right from the start. But maybe you know a photographer who's made this mistake you philip a card let's call it halfway you download the images you import them into light roomy copy them onto your hard drive you put that card back in your camera and you forget to reform at the card and then you take more pictures again I've never done this personally but I've heard about photographers who have done it and so now the next time you go to import those images half the images were already here and the other half are new photos well you don't want to re import the first one's a second time this option will take care of that for you it's surprisingly amazing it doesn't just look at the file name for example looks at some of the metadata the capture time et cetera to really evaluate and consider I've had the question before if I'm shooting on motor drive high speed continuous shooting where each image looks almost identical to the previous image will it think it's a duplicate no it's much smarter than that I've literally never seen a false positive I've never seen a situation where like room thought it was a duplicate and it wasn't so I just leave that turned on you can scroll down and make sure that none of the images air dimmed down meaning that there it would look something like that it would be dimmed down so that it's not being important make a second copy to yes, please. So by using this option when I download my images from my card onto my hard drive, I'm also making a copy on a separate physical location so that now at the end of that process, I have three copies of my images theory journal captures on my media card, my photos drive and my backup drive. That means I feel pretty comfortable putting the card back in the cameron reformatting it. So I definitely want to take advantage of that option, and then I can click the summary of that location and choose the specific location where I want the backup to be copied to I'll show you that back up them complain about it ever so slightly when we get to that advanced warning there's a complaint coming file renaming this could be really handy in terms of having more meaningful names, especially if you send your photos out to clients. So do you want in this case, I am g underscore zero four, two six dot cr too. Not so impressive to the client versus something like tim grey is the best photographer ever. You should hire him for everything that zero zero zero one, something like that, I just think enough time, man. What might we use? Well, in this case, these air alaska photos so I like to use a custom name in other words, just text that I make up myself and a sequence number. So what will that custom text be? How about alaska? And what will the sequence numbering start with? How about one? Since these are the first images from my alaska trip, the extent I have to point this out. I love this so much this following my favorite feature in all of light room not to actually use but just to make fun of the following extension we can choose upper case or lower case, or just leave it as it is that's. Thank you that's. Very hopeful. Just in case. You know, if you want capital letters for your founding extensions, you have that option applied during import so we can actually change the appearance of every single photo in exactly the same way when we imported into light room, which makes this sound like a really bad idea. But for a lot of photographers, this can actually be very help. Let's. Assume your wedding photographer and your style is that everything is in black and white. Why do you want to start off with color images in light room? Why not choose one of the basic black and white presets? So that every image starts off at least with a basic black and white interpretation, so I don't tend to use develop presets when I'm in boarding my photos, but they're certainly situations where I might what I do make use of is a meditative preset you can see I've already created one with my own name on it I'm gonna go to edit presets from that pop up, and that will bring up a dialogue where I can choose the template and aiken review or update the information for that preset. So what sort of information can I add to the metadata for every single picture I ever import in delight room, at least pictures off my compact flash cards, my sd cards or what have you pictures that I took myself? Well, two basic categories number one contact information so that if somebody finds one of your photos online on your web site or something and they've downloaded it to their computer and they want to give you lots of money for it, they'll have your contact information so they know how to reach you also copyright information so that nobody will ever steal your pictures because, you know, image thieves usually bother toe look att metadata and see who the owner of the photo is okay, so maybe neither of those scenarios is really gonna play out, as I might have hoped but it's still a good practice toe have that basic information, but the most important thing is to keep in mind that anything you're putting in this meditative preset will presumably be added to every single image so you want to keep it kinda generic? I mean, I might like to put a five star rating as part of this meditative preset it's going to make me feel really good about myself except that I have to go through and remove this five star ratings from a lot of images later but again just keep it generic make sure that it relates to you as the photographer of your business etcetera. All right, so that's been set up? What about key words? Hey, I might as well take advantage of this opportunity to add a few key words I see a boat I see a whale I see water I see a seal, a glacier well, there's all sorts of key words I could add in theory except I'm importing right now. This is the initial process of bringing these photos in the light room so I can on ly add key words here that will apply to every single image I'm importing suddenly the list gets a lot shorter alaska do this every image I don't even think every picture who actually I got lucky every image here does include water so I can even add water with a comma separating any others inside passage united states cold you know nature well, maybe that's even a little bit of a stretch because like that fishing boat I don't know if I'd necessarily called nature but you get the idea you know you have to be really careful when you're adding key words during the import process to make sure that every key word you're adding applies to every single image you're importing into sub folder so get this into sub folder checkbox remember that I was on ly specifying up above here my primary storage location this is going to help me later because now I can specify a sub folder I'll turn on the into sub folder checkbox what will we call it? How about alaska that's? Obvious enough and in theory, if I remember the date I could actually add that the year and the month for example see this well if that's not the right date that cemented a today but you get the idea I could give that folder and name we talked about that naming structure it's whatever works best for you, go ahead and figure it out for yourself based on what makes most that's the way you think about your image is essentially and then organized into one folder by original folders I do not recommend in this context when we're copying photos from our compact flash cards because how does your camera create a folder structure on your compact flash card? It varies a little bit by camera but usually it's something along the lines of after every hundred or thousand photos it makes a new folder for no apparent reason that really matters to you. Do you want to reproduce that messy folder structure? I sure don't by date, in theory yes, if you're a date person that's totally fine in theory from alaska, maybe I want to divide my images up into folders based on the date of capture except I can already do that just by filter, and we'll see that a little bit later, so why do I need to have redundancy where I've got a folder structure based on date plus metadata where ike unfiltered by date and now I just want to see all my pictures from my trip, so I don't like that approach if you're going to use this approach, be very, very certain that you have selected the correct folder is the destination folder so that what I see very often is you select the month folder that you previously imported into then you organized by date and so inside the month you get another year and another month in another day and if that day folder was active in the next time inside that day full do you get another year in a month and a day and my arms aren't long enough to stretch out what a huge, tremendous problem you could create for yourself with this wacky date folder structure. So be very, very careful. If you're going to use that option, I personally prefer the into one folder option. So, again, I've specified the photos. Hard drive. Now, I'm specifying the specific sub folder that I'm putting it into. In this case, just alaska.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Tim Grey - How to Get and Stay Organized in Lightroom - Reference Guide.pdf

Ratings and Reviews

Michael Griffith

I've been using Lightroom for a number of years, but thought it might be helpful to review the program. Tim Grey does is an expert in the program and does a wonderful job of explaining the intricacies of the program. He uses a lot of self deprecating humor and his examples stick with you. The map feature is one LR tab I've never before used. Having updated some of the metadata tags, I can easily find my pictures of Costa Rica or Taos, NM. (plus its fun to see my travels plotted on a map)

Gary Hook

Tim has a great style and a wealth of knowledge. I appreciate that he not only talks about a technique, but takes the time to actually demonstrate the 'how' and the results. Although I've been using LR for some time, I came away with some great tips and insights in some areas such as using the Maps function as a search tool


I have discovered a new teacher I LOVE. I love the pace of Tim's teaching as well as his linear pratical advise. He stays on task as he teaches and is thorough. He even adds a little humor. This is a great to the point course!

Student Work