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Importing and Naming Conventions in Lightroom

Lesson 6 from: Travel Photography: The Complete Guide

Ben Willmore

Importing and Naming Conventions in Lightroom

Lesson 6 from: Travel Photography: The Complete Guide

Ben Willmore

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Lesson Info

6. Importing and Naming Conventions in Lightroom


Class Trailer



Course Introduction


Camera Gear for Travel


What Camera Gear Should You Buy?


Gear Bags for Travel Photography


Location Research and Pre-Trip Planning


Importing and Naming Conventions in Lightroom


Processing Images with Presets in Lightroom


Lesson Info

Importing and Naming Conventions in Lightroom

Well, let's get into Lightroom. Now, with this class in general, I'm gonna assume you own Photoshop and Lightroom or you plan to. And I'm gonna hope you've at least installed it and played with it a little bit, because if I have to start from the absolute, absolute beginning, there's only so much we can get into. And so, I wanna assume you own Lightroom and Photoshop and you've used them for a little while. I want to show you, though, how I work when I'm in the field because if we're out shooting, and we're on a particular location, we have a very limited amount of time. And once the sun goes down to the time the sun goes up, it's pretty much, you gotta sleep, you gotta eat, and process your images, and for some of you to do family things. For me, my wife's a photographer, so it's a matter of, when I'm out shooting, it's not like I'm away from them or ignoring them or spending too much time doing something. She loves it at the same time, so, it's sometimes a slightly different situatio...

n. But, when I'm traveling, my main mindset is I want to be able to process my images quickly. And so I'm gonna show you how I go about doing that where I can try to finish images very fast, but then we'll also do images more slowly. Because some images just can't handle the fast workflow because they need more specialized techniques. So we'll do a bunch of fast ones, and then we'll do slower, more talking about the individual sliders that you might need to use to accomplish things, okay? So, first of all, when you're getting things into Lightroom, let's talk about a couple little details about importing your images. So here I am in Lightroom, and in the lower left we have the import button. I'm gonna click import. So I see the import dialog here. And, if I'm gonna import something, first off, at the top, it's gonna ask if I want to move or add photos. Now, if I've already copied the images onto my external drive, I would choose add. Add means leave them where they are right now and just let me see them in Lightroom. I would choose move if they're sitting on the storage card that I just pulled out of the camera and I just slapped into my laptop and I need to transfer them from that onto my little external drive that I use. That's when I would choose move. On the right side, there's just a few options that I want to mention that I always think about. First one is this checkbox called Build Smart Previews. If you don't have that turned on, then the only time you can adjust your images is when the hard drive that contains them is physically attached to your computer. And I'd like to be able to adjust those images when that drive is sitting in my bag and I'm on like a train going between locations or something. I want to be able to just pull up my laptop and not have to connect a bunch of gear to work. If I turn on this checkbox, when I'm importing my images it's gonna spend a little bit extra time after it's done importing to save just the right amount of information where you're actually going to be able to adjust your images when you don't have the hard drive that contains them attached, which is really nice. Now, if you forgot to turn it on here, and you happen to import your photos, you can also select your photos, and then if you go to the library menu at the top of your screen and you scroll down, there'll be a choice called Previews and one of the choices will be Build Smart Previews. So you can do it afterwards as well, but I usually do it right here when I'm importing them so I just remember to have it done. So that's one thing to think about. If I happen to have two drives and I have enough ports on my computer or I have a little hub to attach them to, there is a choice here to Make a Second Copy To. And you see, if I turn that on, it has the name of my second drive which is, I have a primary drive and a mirror drive, and right there it can make the second copy for me. So sometimes I end up using that if it's convenient to have both drives connected at the same time. Sometimes it's not, so I'm just not using that and later on I'll update my backup. Then down here's a choice called Rename Files. And it used to be that I was just in a hurry and I was lazy and I would just import my images using whatever the default names were. That creates a lot of problems down the road. What happens if, later on, I create a portfolio of images, images that span many years of shooting, and suddenly I try to save those images into one folder that I'm gonna give to somebody else, but I have three files that have the exact same file name because my camera's numbering system resets after a certain amount, and I could easily end up with duplicates. Or, if a client emails and says oh, I really liked the image, with the name of, the generic name your camera gave it, sure, I can go into Lightroom and I can search for a particular file name, but I might end up with five results that have the exact same file name. And, unless they sent a copy of the picture along with it, I might not know what picture they're talking about. So, in general, what I want to do is try to make it so that every single picture I have on my drives has a unique file name. And it's up to you what kind of convention you want to use, but the mindset in general, I think, should be each file has a unique name. And so this is what I happen to use. There's a checkbox here for renaming the files, and you can create a template. I'll simply show you what my template is. Feel free to use it or modify it to your needs. But when I turn on Rename Files, right here is a popup menu for Template, and if I click, one of the choices there is to edit the template or to create one if you don't have one yet. When I choose that, this little dialog comes up. Down at the bottom I have the choices I could use to construct a file name. And in here, I'm gonna come down to the date, and I can come in here and choose that I want to put in a four digit year, that's what the YYYY means, it's four digits. And, if I hit the insert button, it would put it up here. And, so if you look at what I've done, is I have a four digit year, a little dash, a two digit month, a little dash, there's a special choice called Shoot Name that is available from those options down below, and then I have a sequence number. And a sequence number means simply number my files. Start with number one, then go to two, three, four, so on. And it's rare for me to take more than 99,000 photos at one particular location. And so the number of digits I have for my sequence number makes it so it never, you know, resets itself number-wise. Now, some of you though, will want to go in here and add a two digit day to this if you find it to be helpful. I find that I just don't need that information for my particular purposes most of the time. Now, when you construct one of these, up here it will give you an example. So here it just tells me. It's gonna be the year, dash, the month, dash, the name of a shoot, dash, a number. That's the numbering system we're gonna use. So you have to remember, I used a special choice that's called Shoot Name, and it's found right down here. Shoot Name, hit Insert, I'll hit the Insert button right now so you can see what happens. It just adds it up here. And up in this area, you can drag this around if you need the shoot name to be at the beginning or you need the shoot name to be at the end. Or if you've clicked on one of these, you can hit delete to remove it. So you just kind of construct your own formula for how to do this. This happens to be mine. Now, if you use that choice called Shoot Name, then, when you're using that template, turn on Rename Files, you choose the name of the template from this menu. Right down here, it will say Shoot Name. And I just type in a descriptive name of whatever location or subject matter I'm shooting. So this might be Tokyo, or this might be Jade Buddha Temple, or whatever you'd like there. And if you happen to go to that location more than once on the same trip and you're adding more images to the same folder that already contains some from, like, yesterday when you were there, this little area where you can type in the name of your shoot, there's an arrow pointing down to the right of it, and if you click on that, it will give you whatever you used recently. And, therefore, if you want to use the same naming that you'd used a couple days ago or something, you can easily get to it without retyping. So that's another thing that I use. Then, the way that I name my folders. Down here, there's a checkbox called Into Subfolder. And if that's turned off, then it would put it on the base folder of whatever you click on here. Let's say I came in here and I just clicked on this 2004 folder. Well, now it's gonna shove my images directly in that folder. But if I turn on Into Subfolder, it'll create a brand new folder inside and I usually put in there the date, underscore, the month, and then again the shoot name. And what I'll do is I'll just copy it from up here. 'Cause there'd already be something typed in that I'd typed in earlier, I'd just click on it, select all, copy. And then I come down here, type in the year and month, paste. I wish it could use a formula for that as well, but it can't. So anyway, I can do that. That's usually the format that I use is year, month, shoot name. And I'll show you later on how I create sub folders within that to keep track of my images. And once you see that, it'll be tomorrow, or just later on, it's gonna become obvious, whenever you visit a folder, exactly how many images are done, exactly how many images still need work, exactly how many images I've worked on and decided they should never see the light of day, no human should see these other than me, and you're never gonna have it where you're embarrassed because you clicked on a folder and there's some really bad images in there that somebody else got to see. It's gonna be where, every folder, the moment you click on it, there are only images there that are ready to show people. And you'll see that as we progress. For now, I just wanted to cover a few of the things that are in here. The only other thing in here that I do that would be at all special is I have a Metadata preset that takes my images with a copyright, so the year and my name, and you can create those templates if you just click on this little arrow on the right side and say Edit Presets, and it will bring you into this dialog box where you can type in, you can say this is copyrighted, and you could put in here... What you would want the copyright notice to be... and any usage terms like all rights reserved or anything else, and at least that information will get tagged to your pictures so that if you ever export a picture, it'll usually have that stored within the image. And if somebody knows how to look up the copyright info, they would be able to tell who owns that image and therefore who they should contact if they want to license and use that image. So those are just a few of the things that I end up doing within the import dialog box. Again, I'm making the assumption you've used Lightroom at least a little bit before so I'm not gonna cover the, you know, too many of the basic ones. The most important thing, though, is building smart previews for me. That's gonna make it so I can adjust my images at any time without having the drive attached. And I'll just show you where the menu is, where you can do that manually if you were to select a bunch of images. It's just the Library menu. There's a choice called Previews, and right here's a choice called Build Smart Previews. So if you forgot to do it when you imported your images, you can do it there. You just need to make sure the drive's attached at the time you do. All right, let's start processing some images. Does anyone have any questions on naming conventions, because that was a big sort of pain point for me when I started Lightroom and was trying to figure out, okay, how do I want to organize these things? And I know, I often see people asking, well, if I'm doing it by location, am I gonna remember where that is? So, go ahead. For me, I find that some people will say that they name their folders based on location without the date first, because they can always search based on dates and find things, but I find my memory, just in my brain, I remember things relative to what I did before and after it. And so, if I put the year and the month first, they're sorted by in what order I experienced things. And, for me, it's easier to kind of think about it in that way, but not everybody's gonna find that to be useful. If I went to Paris, France, three times and they're different years, they're gonna be in quite different areas of my storage system. But as you will learn later on in the course, there are other ways of very quickly finding those images. And you should, by the time you're done going through the system I'm gonna show you, be able to find any important image in five seconds. And you're not gonna do that by searching through folders. That would be very slow. We're gonna have much more efficient methods. Question? You mentioned earlier that sometimes, if the photos are already on your hard drive before you go to import them to Lightroom versus importing them directly from the card. Do you prefer one or the other or are there disadvantages or advantages or speed of those two items? I find that most of the time I do it within Lightroom to copy it. That used to not be the case, because Lightroom used to be slower. Where, if you were to copy directly from the card to a hard drive using your operating system instead of Lightroom, used to be Lightroom was a lot slower in that, but with the newer version of Lightroom, they've sped it up. They've kind of divided up different tasks so they're not all done together. And now I don't mind any kind of speed difference there is, so I do it from Lightroom. I find it to be convenient because I want to make sure I rename all those files and I'm gonna be remembering what's the name of this location and everything else right after I ended up shooting it. Who knows if I'm gonna visit that folder for a month, you know? And I want to make sure that I have renamed all those files and everything, so it's convenient in Lightroom. Yeah. Ben, a couple more questions, this one from (mumbles). Could you name some examples again of the shoot names that you use? Oh, sure. Let me just go in here to my folders. Let's go to a modern thing, 2015, and let's look, here are some shoot names from recent times. So these happen to be locations, so here you can see where I was traveling in March, and all of that. This is when I'm going to particular locations. And sometimes they're vague. Ocean Crossing, I was on a cruise ship. We were going across an ocean. I didn't know where the heck we were, so I did that. Other times, you'll find that it would be the name of a subject matter. Like here, Wringling Museum. That's a museum. I might not remember where it is, so I also put where it's located. But sometimes it will be things here. Tom on Scooter Lightpaint. I light painted, used a flashlight to light somebody. You know, those are examples right there. But, when traveling, it's usually the location. Sometimes, it all depends how much time I spent at each location, but sometimes it will be drilled down even further. So instead of having San Francisco here, I will have Coit Tower, I will have, um, whatever the pier number is down by the water I shot near. I'll break it up into those if that's important to me. But if you end up using the system I'm gonna show you for making your images easy to find, that's gonna be less critical. Folders are not how I find most of my images. One more. Upon import, do you ever convert to dng and if so, why or why not? Sure. Dng is Adobe's version of a raw file, you could say. And you can convert your raw files into dng and it's not a bad thing to do so. I personally don't, though. I've just found it does take long, longer to do so, because it takes some time. And there are a couple disadvantages. One thing is, the way I keep my backups up to date is I end up storing the adjustments that are made in Lightroom. I store them in these little files called xmp files, which some people find to be annoying because you have twice as many files as you think you need, but it makes it overly easy to update your backup drives. Because instead of having to copy the entire picture, 'cause the picture would contain the image itself along with the information about the adjustments, I can copy just this tiny little xmp file to the backup, and then I know that that little xmp file contains the Lightroom adjustments, a description of what Lightroom did to the image. It's an easy way for me to update my backup. And I prefer to have my backup in a way where every single file is somewhat self-contained. So if I do a search for a file name, I can grab that file with this xmp file and deliver it to somebody. I don't need to make sure my catalog is working. I can open it in Lightroom and I can do other things. Instead, it's a self-contained little unit. And so for me, I prefer it that way. But converting to dng is not a bad thing, and for some people they would like to do it. The file size can be a little bit smaller because it can use compression to compress the image losslessly, where the volume does not go down, and you don't need those little xmp files because it can store the adjustments that Lightroom makes directly in the dng file itself. It's a personal choice. It's kind of like, should you get this camera or that camera? If you have a good enough reason, then I can tell you yes, get this camera, but generically, for everybody, it varies. So I personally don't do dng. What I would do though, is if you ever hear of a camera manufacturer that you've been shooting with for decades go out of business and suddenly you're worried that, you know, 10 years from now, what if they start not supporting that old legacy file format in some new software that comes out? Well, you might want to convert those images to dng at that time so that, see, the difference is, dng is documented. It should last into the future. Whereas if a camera manufacturer goes out of business, their file format could become a little bit old and people just decide, why support this camera's file format that was only around 10 years ago?

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Lightroom Presets Quickstart Guide
Lightroom Preset Sampler
Pre-Trip Planning
Actions Sampler Guide
Travel Photography Handbook
Actions Sampler
Lightroom Keywords
Big Set of Lightroom Presets
Practice Images
Travel Photogtaphy Mobile Guide
Gear List
Lightroom Tips and Keyboard Shortcuts

Ratings and Reviews


This was simply an amazing experience! Without a doubt the best investment of time and money I have experienced in quite awhile. Ben's complete command of the subject, the practical tips, suggestions and reference information was outstanding. I have enjoyed point and shoot photography for some time and recently decided to invest in some decent DSLR equipment (Canon EOS D70). I have a trip to Cape Town and Johannesburg South Africa rapidly approaching and thought it might be a good idea to take some classes and make an effort to get up the learning curve ASAP to take advantage of this travel opportunity. "Discovering" Creativelive and Ben Willmore's class was literally an answer to prayer! There is nothing like sitting at the foot of wisdom, taking notes, and having numerous "ah-ha" moments! This was great....looking forward to more classes. Thanks for the high quality effort!

a Creativelive Student

Genius! Ben is a brilliant master teacher - focused, clear and holds back no information. The best! This course has condensed the equivalent of 10 courses into one. He is a perfectionist in his approach and knows how to present the material. He is the leader in photoshop and photography "par excellence". Highly recommend any of his courses. Save your time and start with the best - everyone loves Ben!!!!

Nichole Sams

I feel the title of this class, Travel Photography, is much to limiting for what you are really going to get. As a wedding photographer, who dreams of traveling, I attending the class live in Seattle, and was hoping to get some inspiration for on location shoots. What I got, however, was a WHOLE LOT MORE. I would recommend this class to anyone with a camera and Lightroom. What I learned about how lightroom works and how to integrate it with photoshop is invaluable. I actually think they should charge WAY more for this course. The bonuses with purchase from the keywords (we are talking every key word you could possibly imagine) and the presets (holycow everything you would ever need) are worth exponentially more than the course price itself. Ben is a gentle easy going teacher and nice to listen to. His ease of teaching pretty complex ideas was truly wonderful. If you are reading this you must buy this course, it is well worth it!

Student Work