10 Things I Would Tell New Lightroom Users: #1

Hi gang: I’m starting a 10-part series here today where I share some basic advice I would give to new users on how to make their Lightroom life easier. Tip of the hat to my buddy Rob Sylvan who inspired me to write my first version of this concept on my blog back in 2009.

SADLY NECESSARY DISCLAIMER: This series is NOT for more advanced users, it’s for new users, so if you’re an advanced user reading this, it will only make you mad because you probably do things very differently than I’m going to suggest. The way you’re doing stuff probably works great for you, and I’m not trying to convince you to change. As I travel around on my tour, and talk one-on-one to literally thousands of Lightroom users, I hear the same problems, the same challenges and the same frustrations again and again, and so my advice is for those very folks struggling with these issues. If I can help them along their path, and help them dig themselves out of a hole, or something that’s got them really frustrated, then I’m thrilled. As they become more advanced, they’ll develop their own workflows, just like you have.

There’s no possible way I’ll write even one of these where some people won’t disagree with some part of it on some level, and that’s OK — if you disagree, you should definitely write a blog post about it. Other disclaimer stuff: Known side effects include: drowsiness, abdominal or stomach pain, changes in behavior, dry mouth, fainting, cramping, and hearing loss. Please note that this material is provided to you for informational purposes only and should not be viewed as investment, tax, legal or other advice. This ride includes sudden and dramatic acceleration, climbing, tilting and dropping. Although we have taken reasonable precautions to ensure no viruses are present in this blog post, the company cannot accept responsibility for any loss or damage arising from reading this post or viewing screen captures with scary sharks. Por favor, manténgase alejado de las puertas!

Now, on to the first in my 10-part series:

#1: Use Collections — Not Folders

When I meet someone who has a totally messed up Lightroom life, more often than not they tell me how they use Folders in the Folders Panel for organizing, sorting and working with their images. Ack!

The Folders panel is where folders full of the original photos you imported from a particular shoot are stored, and if you mess around in the Folders panel, it won’t be long before you get burned (you’ll delete something you didn’t mean to, or move something you can’t find, or break links to all kinds of stuff — it’s the most dangerous place in Lightroom until you really know what you’re doing). It’s where we keep our originals — stuff we don’t want to accidentally erase or move — not the stuff we work with day in/day out. It’s kind of like our negatives from back in the film days. We kept them out of sight, tucked away some place safe, and we didn’t mess with them. We kept them in case we got in a bind — we could always go back and make more prints from the negs. I think of the Folders panel the same way. I just don’t go there unless it’s an emergency (i.e. I deleted something I really need to get back).

School of sharks circling from above

Now, exactly what is in that folder of images you just imported into Lightroom? Well, it’s all your good photos from that shoot, all your bad photos from that shoot, it’s everything—the whole ball of wax. But once we import photos into Lightroom, what do we really care about? Just the good ones. They’re the only ones we show anybody right? Right! (well, hopefully). The rest are just a folder full of “the ones we didn’t like.” So, once you import photos from a shoot, I recommend that you look through them; tag any good ones you might want to print or share (using flags, star ratings, color labels, whatever you like), and put those tagged “Keepers” in a Collection  and don’t mess with that Folder (in the Folders panel) again. Especially since now all your good photos from that shoot are just one click away — you just click on that Collection called “Italy Picks” or “Italy Keepers” or “Best of Italy” and there are your good shots from Italy (provided of course, that you actually went to Italy). If you delete something from a collection — your originals are still safe. If you move something out of your collection — your originals are still safe. If you go to Italy, your originals are still safe.

So, where are all your bad photos located? The photos you didn’t like? Why they’re still in the Folders panel. How often do you find yourself looking for “bad photos?” Not too often, eh? That’s great because I’d recommend that you stay out of the Folders panel altogether until, once again, you really know your way around Lightroom. If it’s too tempting for you — right-click just to the left of the “Folders” title at the top of the panel and from the pop-up menu uncheck “Folders” and then it’ll be hidden from view (just remember how to make it visible again ).

Q. Scott, how often do you go to your Folders panel?
A. Hardly ever. Once a month at best. Maybe less. I rarely need to look at the photos I didn’t like in the first place.

Collections are safe, and will keep most users out of trouble. See how happy this woman is below? You could be that happy, using Collections.

happy and smiling girl with a smile painted on paper

Hope you found that helpful.

Remember these three things before you post a comment:

(1) Read the disclaimer at the top of this page.

(2) Take a deep breath.

(3) I’m teaching a full day seminar today and I won’t be able to see your comments until lunch break. If yours get stuck in moderation (a process I hate, but it keeps spam out), I’ll release them around 1:30 pm ET (unless you were a meany and/or didn’t read the disclaimer or both).

Have a great day everybody! See you here tomorrow for #2 🙂




  1. baby party wear dresses in chennai|party wear sarees in chennai|party wear salwar kameez in chennai|baby party wear in chennai|baby party wear dresses in chennai|party wear salwar shops in chennai|party wear shirts in chennai|party wear dress in chennai|p 16 September, 2015 at 12:54 Reply

    Heya are using WordPress for your blog platform? I’m new to the blog world but I’m trying to get started and create my own. Do you need any coding knowledge to make your own blog? Any help would be greatly appreciated!|

  2. Susan From Vermont 8 February, 2015 at 12:14 Reply

    I have been using LR, and have had multiple problems with losing photos. Some my own fault, some I cannot figure out the reasons why. I use folders and collections, but still do most of my developing from the folders. Making a virtual copy first, then using that to make changes. Color coding borders to indicate originals (NEF) and processed (NEF:Adobe/RGB). Then flags and stars for other categories.

    That said, I delete photos that have no possibility of redemption – like very blurry or accidental shots of the ground, etc. Also ones I simply don’t like at all. However, I have been glad I kept a lot of the ? photos. As I got more proficient with using LR, I have discovered that going back through old photos and working on the PP, can often yield something pretty nice.

    Recently I noticed that some “keeper” images had disappeared. Why, I don’t know. So I went back into an old LR backup and found them. They had also disappeared from my LR folder where automatic backup occurs. Problem is, I had to export them to that folder as jpgs and then put them back into my most current version as jpgs. Is there any way to do this so they can be put back as NEFs?

    Also, I would like to know if there is a way to save my NEF/AdobeRGB edited photos to my in-computer backup without converting them to jpgs. The original NEFs show up automatically, but not those edits!

    Perhaps you can also explain WHY it is considered dangerous to work from folders, and WHY collections are considered safer?

    • Vlad 11 February, 2015 at 13:23 Reply

      Susan…my experience may help a bit.

      1) One thing I learned about all non-destructive photo software like Lightroom and Picasa…unless you export a photo none of your edits will appear in the photo you have on disk. All the edits are saved in Lightroom’s database…and there only…until you export.

      2) Lightroom does not synchronize imported folders automatically (like Picasa does)…so you have to keep synchronizing the folders where you export the edited folders.

      3) Having a separate folder for exports has helped me (even though Scott would disagree) , so that if I do not see a photo in Lightroom, I can use a simple software like FastStone and quickly look at my export folder on disk.

      Hope this helps.

      • Susan From Vermont 13 February, 2015 at 09:03 Reply

        Vlad, thank you for sharing your experience.

        1) I have noticed this – the automatic backup to my computer has only the NEF image and exported JPG images of edits. But the edited versions are available only in the LR backups – which is one reason I do multiple backups.

        2) I don’t know how to synchronize folders. Unless that is the same as “optimizing”? Optimizing is done automatically when backing up, or so it says when the panel pops up. I have two places where I back up my LR folder, but each one is done separately. After closing LR, and backing up to one site, I re-open it and then close it to back up to the other site. Is there a way to do this more efficiently?

        3) Not sure I understand the benefit of this folder you describe. But I would see it better if the exports included the NEF version of my edits. If there is a way to do this, I really, really want to know! Especially since when retrieving some “lost” images from older LR backups, I could only do so by exporting them as JPGs and then importing them into the most recent LR catalog. Even though LR does a decent job of editing on JPGs, I still would like to retain the information that is contained in the NEF version!

        If there is an answer to this, I hope you (or someone else) will tell me about it.

        • Anna Soffia 14 February, 2015 at 04:53 Reply

          You can let lightroom keep the lr-edition file together with the original. Your photocollection will take a bit more room on the hard disk, but that way you can even build up a new lr catalog if something happens to your catalog. I can not remember where you do it though, since I´ve only done it once

        • keith 19 February, 2015 at 07:52 Reply

          You will find “synchronize” in the library module, next look at the top left of your window, you will see; file, edit, “library”. Drop down this tab and you will see synchronize. Now, after your exports into the same folder or a new folder you can click here and show your new images and edits.

  3. john 31 January, 2015 at 14:42 Reply

    Would you create the same structure within Collections as in Folders?
    e.g I have a Folder for Water Birds and then various Sub folders named Waders, Plovers, Godwits.
    Would it be best to create Collections that duplicate the same structure so that each category of Water Birds are kept separate for me to easily find them?

    • Frank Blanco 10 February, 2015 at 10:41 Reply

      When I started with Lightroom, I basically copied the structure of my folders. I’ve continued to keep that basic structure, but I’ve also used collections to place the same photo or photos in multiple collections. For example, I have landscape and bird/wildlife photos from a shoot in the Everglades under a “Folder” titled “Everglades.” I created a collection also titled “Everglades” with all of those photos. I also created separate collections titled Birds, Gators, Glades Landscapes, etc.

    • Michelle 26 February, 2015 at 14:57 Reply

      I find it more convenient to use keywords to handle the subsets. In the Library module,from the keyword list panel (the list of keywords in your catalog), all you have to do is click the little arrow on the right of the number of images with that keyword to view all images with that keyword at once.

  4. IanB 30 January, 2015 at 21:00 Reply

    Thanks Scott.
    been a folder/keyword bloke from the start although I have tried to use collections. I take all the info above as good advice but I’m not sure how folders become a mess :confused:
    Can someone explain where folders let people down? (please read as genuine question and not ‘having go at you or anyone’] Like many I find the editing part easy but the library module is a mine field at times

    • chris 4 February, 2015 at 00:06 Reply

      I think what having the collections accomplishes is it takes you away from the originals to work on copies. in that way the original is never lost. Having effed up every way possible with LR, this particular tip was a real breakthrough for me. ive lost whole shoots with one click…

    • Frank Blanco 10 February, 2015 at 10:49 Reply

      I think for someone who keeps everything, good and bad photos, collections are a way of creating albums of your best stuff while keeping everything nicely tucked a way in a folder. When you create a collection of your best work from a shoot, it’s just easier to show them off without having to sift thru the bad to get to the good. It also makes it easier to upload to a sharing site like flickr or smugmug. If you want to create a book, you will have to create a collection. It wont let you create it from the original folder.

  5. Jeff 28 January, 2015 at 18:19 Reply

    I find it very interesting that in spite of the disclaimer, there are a lot of accomplished LR users who obviously read the post and care a great deal about organizing their collections. I haven’t used LR for long, but I am quite adept with organizing folders, etc. so I am not sure collections will help, but I am inspired to try and I guess that is why even experienced LR users continue to read Scott’s articles aimed at “beginners.” One never knows when they will find a gem of a hint.

    Thanks to everyone who shared their ideas. I love learning!

  6. Stew 28 January, 2015 at 07:37 Reply

    Thanks to all for sharing your methods (and to Scott for proposing your method).

    I’m just an avid amateur, but I’ve used LR since the first beta. If anyone cares, I have a folder for each year (2013, 2014, 2015, etc) that I import into. Then I use collections and tags to organize and find the shots later. I should use Smart Collections more, but that’s a New Year’s resolution (along with getting off my duff and outside to make more photos).

    I like the idea of an Unprocessed and Finished Smart Collection, but I tend to use the Labels for that instead. For example, Green is “Processed and Ready to Publish,” Purple is “Needs Work.”

  7. George 27 January, 2015 at 15:40 Reply

    I would love to stay within a collection… but I find that if I jump to Photoshop from within a collection and make adjustments to a file then save those new adjustments as a photoshop file I must find my way to the original folder to retrieve that file…then add it back to the collection ?
    If I start within a collection and jump to Photoshop to make adjustments is there a way to force the collection to retrieve the newly saved Photoshop file….. Without going to the Folder?

    Hope I made some sense….

    • Kevin 25 February, 2015 at 11:13 Reply

      The way I handle this issue with photoshop/lightroom and collections, is that I have a smart collection set up, and that collection automatically grabs any photo that is not in a regular collection.

      It helps on 2 levels…
      1) it catches the photos like you said in the photoshop/lightroom balance, and I can quickly find it, and toss it back into the correct collection.

      2) when new photos are imported, they don’t go into collections automatically, so this is where I pick through the keepers, do some basic editing and then file them away in the collections for storage.

      Hey, it works for me.

  8. Jason Honingford 27 January, 2015 at 14:58 Reply

    I’ll give Collections a shot, but I do not live in Lightroom. I must be able to quickly identify the “good” photos outside of lightroom for various other projects. I need to also be able to move, organize, rename, back-up and restore. So if I move something, Lightroom better cope. I also have a lot of video and audio to organize as well, so good folder (file system) organization is key to my workflow until I can find a reliable “omni-organizer” that can tag everything.

    • Rob Sylvan 24 February, 2015 at 10:07 Reply

      I’m sorry to say it, but Lightroom cannot cope if you move, organize, or rename photos and folders outside of Lightroom. You are unfortunately setting yourself up for a lot of trouble if you do that to yourself. Do all of your renaming, deleting, and moving from inside Lightroom and save yourself from a world of frustration.

  9. Gordon Gurray 27 January, 2015 at 12:56 Reply

    Well, thanks for the tipp. I never really worked with collections but only with folders I that for years now, without any faux pas or problem. But I surely can see the advantage in using collections now, after reading your entry here. I’ll give it a try the other day… Only one thing, Scott…. Bad photos won’t be living long on my hdd.. I always delete all photos I found out to be bad 😉

  10. Michael Sladek 27 January, 2015 at 11:09 Reply

    I teach digital photography at a community college, and we use Lightroom for organizing and editing photos. The workflow I’ve found works best with students is something like this:

    1. Import photos from memory card using LR. During import process, designate specific folder on computer for this batch of photos (ex: Class Photos / Imports / Assignment 1)

    2. Name photos. Before clicking “Import” give the photos a specific name (ex: Assignment 1)

    3. IMMEDIATELY after Import is complete, from Library module, go to “Previous Imports” section of Catalog, go to Edit / Select All and then go to Collections / Create Collection and make a collection for this set of photos (ex: Assignment 1) and make sure “Include Selected Photos” is checked.

    The above process organizes photos both on the computer as well as in LR, without the confusion of the Folders panel, which I have students disable ASAP to avoid accidental photo deletion.

    The process of explaining how LR works and then walking through the above steps, as well as Basic panel and Export, takes approximately 2.5 hours for 20 students. There’s a lot new and unfamiliar in the LR workflow. It’s not MS Word. It’s not Photoshop.

    Using LR is a lot like tying shoes. There’s lots more than one way to do it, but we all (usually) end up with shoes we can walk in.

  11. Neal 27 January, 2015 at 10:13 Reply


    Very helpful tip for both new and experienced LR uses. No disrespect intended to those who have posted on their successful use of folders, but I suspect the workflow intended by Adobe is likely just as you have described using collections; which is why folders do not appear in any module but collections do (they didn’t at first, but Adobe eventually fixed that).

    I don’t delete anything from my folders, although I certainly have my share of rejects. Disk space is cheap enough and most of us photographers have plenty of it. If you’ve had the situation where the only shot of some important family member at a wedding or event was a bit blurry or otherwise not technically something you wanted to present to a client, but then they ask if there are any shots of “Great Aunt Sadie,” having the outtakes available comes in handy.

    One problem with collections is that LR orders them alphabetically and as far as I can figure out, you cannot drag them to a different order. So, I keep a “shoots in process” collection set. Every shoot gets its own collection set inside the shoots to process collection set. After the images are all imported, the first thing I do is create a collection called “1 All Images” and, obviously, all the images go in there. After the first pass editing, the images I didn t reject go into “2 First Pass.” Finally, after the second review pass I have “3 Selects.” From there I can do my edits, etc and create additional collections for any special uses as needed. After the images are final and delivered, the whole collection set moves over to another collection set called “Completed.” Some images may also be added to specific other collections, say for website or whatever. There’s a separate collection set for collecting images for such perp uses, mostly containing smart collections, some can just tag an image “website” and let the magic happen. The number prefix in collection names is my way of keeping them in the order I want.

    The underlying database for LR (sqlite3 on OS X, I don’t know for Windows) just isn’t going to break because you have a few hundred collections. Just not something to worry about.

    Also, the LR backup catalog really isn’t so large that you will run out of disk space just because of LR’s backups. You can always just delete any backups older then X months if you want, or even use various automation utilities to do this for you if you need to reclaim the space. I’ve never had to restore from a backup library (knock wood) and I’ve been using LR since version 1.0. but I still backup every time I exit LR just in case.

  12. Chris 27 January, 2015 at 09:31 Reply

    Sounds like an interesting option in working with things. I’ve been using Lightroom since version 1 was released (2007) and have 130,000 images all organised in folders and have been working with that particular catalogue for 7 years straight without a single issue. I too erase all junk immediately after import. Folders works fine for me as I’m sure it does many others (I’m sure Adobe knew what they were doing when they invented the folder system) and providing your tagging and hardware and back-ups are up to scratch you’ll be fine.

    I make temporary collections while editing though but delete them after all my exporting is completed.

  13. Lars 27 January, 2015 at 05:31 Reply

    I do not have bad pictures in my folders. I use the flags rejected to mark all the bad ones and pick for the good ones. Afterwards I delete all the rejected pictures from my hard disk. If I shoot a series, I use C for compare and mark all the bad ones with X. Why should you keep all the junk in your catalog and on your disk?

    • Theresa 27 January, 2015 at 10:22 Reply

      Some of us will spend too much time deciding which photos to delete. Hard drive space is cheap compared to time. I tag the baddies with a reject flag but leave them. I don’t need to see them once they are flagged. There may be a great subject if I cropped the photo, it might make a good teaching point or it might be Monica and Bill. My judgment may also be off. Haven’t you ever been hard on yourself?

  14. cirripedia 26 January, 2015 at 18:54 Reply

    Thank you for providing an alternative to image organization. HOWEVER, if it is considered a better approach then why can’t you save to a collection upon import? I use collections as part of any project, but as stated by others, I often access images directly into PS or other and need the folder system. Your suggestions are good, just not for me.

  15. John Harcourt-Rigg 26 January, 2015 at 16:24 Reply

    I enjoy your advice Scott, I have purchased your books, use Lightroom here in Brisbane, Australia. Looking forward to your other tips.

  16. Nike NFL 26 January, 2015 at 16:15 Reply

    Robert/Nick: Appreciate yourresponses. I might have an interest to know of almost any benefits in your SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION activities as soon as this is applied.

  17. Lyle Cameron 26 January, 2015 at 16:12 Reply

    Collections saved me. Scott is right-on. I never realized the power of Smart Collections, however, until I read in Scott’s LR book to get started using it on video. So, now when I import both stills and videos, my Smart Collection automatically separately collects my video. On stills, like Scott, after the initial import (I use external hard drives), I’ll then set up Collections using subsets, as Scott suggests, titled Full Shoot, Picks, Final Picks, etc His book describes it all.

  18. Craig Beyers 26 January, 2015 at 15:38 Reply

    Here’s my take on this and I agree with Scott (and I’ve used LR since the beta, so I’ve made a few mistakes!). Folders are for storage ONLY. Collections, Collection Sets, and Smart Collections are for Asset Management though the Catalog and metadata. LR references the Folder for any particular image (so it knows where to find it and update the XML data or DNG). Once I’ve imported a set of images into LR (storing them on the main HD for my Mac and making a backup of the RAW files to an external HD as I import them), I NEVER deal with the folder again until I move the files (through LR) onto a network drive. Since I store files by date (mostly) I generally only keep 1 to 1-½ years of files on my Mac; I move the old files to a network drive (where LR knows about them). Make sense?

    • wagels@gmx.net 26 January, 2015 at 16:03 Reply

      Indeed, good advice. I may add, that I work similar, but delete the “unwanted” pics immediately. So I mark them with the black flag, then hit Strg+Backspace and all those bad pics are gone, if you select that LR should also delete the files on the hard disk. Safes a bit of space…

  19. Reid J. Thaler 26 January, 2015 at 14:47 Reply

    I’m surprised that no one else didn’t mention the obvious: Folders are only available in the Library! If you are working in the Develop mod and want to switch folders you have to go back to the Library module. Lightroom wants you to make decisions on selecting your best stuff. Optimizing images is easy; making rating decisions is hard.

    I teach Lightroom and can’t help but to suggest that people, especially those new to Lightroom, use an import preset. I’m surprised that so few of even my experienced students use one.

    • lyle 1 April, 2015 at 10:59 Reply

      You can choose between a set of Favorite Sources and Recent Sources while in the Develop module. You can see this list by right clicking over the filename display just above the filmstrip (left side). Those lists can contain folders or collections, and save you from having to go to library mode to change folder – especially if you’re jumping between the same set of folders or collections frequently. Likewise, the right and left arrow icons will walk you around where you’ve been and save a trip to Library.

  20. Jackie Burhans 26 January, 2015 at 12:01 Reply

    I use a combo of folders/collections more more folders. Haven’t moved/deleted anything accidentally yet. But I do OFTEN hear people complain that Lightroom “loses” their photos. By which they mean they’ve moved their photos outside of Lightroom and now lightroom has a question mark and cannot find their photos. I always say if you are going to use Lightroom then ONLY use Lightroom to move your photos. So I’m hoping this is in the Top 10.

  21. Kurt O. 26 January, 2015 at 11:46 Reply

    Where was this excellent advice a year or two ago? I finally figured this out on my own after making a mess of two years worth of folders. As of 2015 my new folder hierarchy is year/month/event. The rest is done by selections..

  22. Mike Beecham 26 January, 2015 at 10:55 Reply

    So, I’ve just sent an email regarding this, but thought it might be helpful you get other perspectives on Collections vs Folders. I’ll preface this by saying that I’ve been using LR for quite some time, but never thought to use ‘collections:

    Anyway, I import all my photos from a daily shoot out on the street, into a folder called ‘Unprocessed’., which sits on the SSD of my macbook (so I don’t need to have my external drive in order to edit!). Once I’ve edited the photos as I want them, I then move them from ‘Unprocessed’ into one of two folder stored on an external HDD….B&W Street or Colour Street, depending on what photo it is. The thing is, those folders now run into the hundreds of photos…good and bad (bad being photos down through history that I thought were good because I didn’t know better, and don’t know whether to delete them or not!)

    Now, would you advocate me keeping that system, but also placing the photos into a collection with the same name as the folder and not really going into those two folders…or would you do something different. I figure I’m doing it wrong, but wanted to ask your advice on it.

    Thanks community… appreciate the feedback.

  23. Jennifer 26 January, 2015 at 10:54 Reply

    I’m new to LR 5 so I think I am your client 🙂
    I also bought your LR 5 book – My good night lecture, I like it very much.

    Does anyone know why Smart Collections cannot be synced to Lightroom Mobile? I love to have my pictures with me on my iPad. So I have to do a workaround, that isn’t smart. I create smart collections using ratings or keywords and then I have to make those static collections out of them to be able to sync with LR Mobile. Is this something Adobe will fix?

    Greetings from Austria!

  24. Don 26 January, 2015 at 10:09 Reply

    Lightroom Killer Tips is such a great way of learning more about LR. Thanks, Scott.

    I use it both ways. I’ve been using LR since version 3, and am very comfortable with both Collections and Folders.

    One problem I’ve run into is that when I have to work on a file in Photoshop, since Photoshop will not overwrite a RAW file, I have to save what I’ve worked on as either a TIFF or PSD (I could save it as something else, but why?). But LR won’t automatically put the newly created TIFF or PSD into the collection the original RAW file was in.

    In addition, I have many photos that are in multiple collections, and I cannot find a way to put a RAW file in multiple collections, work on it in PS, save it as a PSD or TIFF, and have the new file appear in any of the collections the original RAW file was in. (If anyone knows a way to make it do that, please let me know!!)

    Because of all of that, I have changed my workflow. Once I import photos from a shoot, I work exclusively within the folder they were imported into until I am finished with all of the editing. Once the culling and editing is finished for that set of photos, I put them all (RAW, TIFF, PSD, whatever) into the various collections, and I add whatever keywords are appropriate.

    I have found that this system makes it easier to find photos later, and still be able to work on them as I go.

    But I do agree with Scott on this — for a beginner, steer clear of the folders. Things can get messed up real fast.

    • Craig Beyers 26 January, 2015 at 15:24 Reply

      If you open the file to edit it in Photoshop FROM LR and then save it (in either TIFF or PSD), LR will include it in the catalog. If you open it in Photoshop FROM the FOLDER and then save it, LR won’t know about it (since, obviously, LR wasn’t involved in that bit of workflow). However, you can always Import it into LR after you edit it that way. I almost always edit images from LR so my PSDs are in the catalog. If you File>Save As> from Photoshop, you’ll also have to Import the TIFF or PSDs into LR. Hope this comment helps.

  25. Cydnie Molloy 26 January, 2015 at 09:57 Reply

    I keep my photos under Photoshop Elements and only import the one I want to edit in Lightroom. Does this mean I have the same photo in two places? Or is the one in LR a copy? When I export back to PE then it is named —–edited.jpg. I don’t want to use LR to file my photos. Am I messing up my originals?

  26. Susan M 26 January, 2015 at 09:36 Reply

    Great explanation of folders vs. collections. I had heard that before, but honestly just started using collections. Your example makes perfect sense.

  27. Bob G. 26 January, 2015 at 08:52 Reply

    Great idea, Scott. I have long advocated showing Collections in a different color to distinguish them from Folders, and thus one would instantly know where they were, and avoid making undesirable changes in the wrong place. The people at Adobe apparently did not agree that this would be a good idea, and never adopted my suggestion, but your idea of hiding Folders is a good alternative. I like it!

  28. Steven 26 January, 2015 at 08:51 Reply

    Even for seasoned Lightroom users, this tip is sound advice. We all teeter one step from disaster when dickering with folders. I only keep photos destined for ‘Selective Color’ and delete the rest. Scott knows what I’m talkin’ about… 😀

  29. Paul C 26 January, 2015 at 08:02 Reply

    GREAT advice, Scott, though it can take a while to break old habits. I now do exactly what you describe, except that I use Smart collections to do the heavy lifting – I create 2 Smart Collections… one for the “keep but not finished” = 1-star (or greater) and a second for “finished” = 2 stars. My 1-star collection is where I go for most of the time, then when I’m done on a photo I simply press 2 and it jumps into the “finished” collection. If I ever want to make a second-edit then it is no work to create a virtual copy and adjust the stars as necessary.

    What I have never really built into my collections-workflow is “Snapshots”… I’m not sure why, I know some folk create loads of snapshots, but not me, so I’ve never explored rating different snapshots of the same photo. Maybe one day you’ll reveal a snapshot secret that will transform my life… I’m hoping!

    Thanks again for a great tip.

    • Paul C 26 January, 2015 at 10:43 Reply

      I forgot to add that I also keyword so the collections relate to the shoot-name or any other criterion I want…. I don’t just have two humungous collections!

  30. Henrik 26 January, 2015 at 06:06 Reply

    That woman will not be happy for long as she has created a dumb collection named “Cars”. Why isn’t she using smart collections? Because she isn’t smart and have read blog posts and tutorials on how great Collections are? 😉

    I agree that you have to be careful when using folders, but the big risk of using dumb Collections is that they exist only within LR. If collections are your only means of organising photos then you are are facing big problems if your database crashes.

    • Matt 26 January, 2015 at 07:41 Reply

      Like most other important things, you make a backup of the database which LR does for you and it can be programed. Of course along with backing up your photos – don’t forget to do that!

      The real issue I have with LR’s db backup is that it doesn’t provide a way to limit its bread crumbs in that it continues to make backups and NEVER deletes any of them. Eventually it could clog you hard drive. At some point you need to manually go in and clean up by deleting some of the older ones. It would be nice if they would ADD A SETTING to limit the number of backups per catalog thus retaining X-number and deleting older ones. i.e. save the last 10 for example.

      • Henrik 26 January, 2015 at 09:19 Reply

        I agree that LR should be able to delete old backups, but on the other hand – I would still like to keep some old backups. If something is accidental deleted last week it may take some weeks to discover and if I take backups every day and had a retention period of 10 days I may have delete the important backup. So I tend to keep some random old backups just in case.

        But back to dumb collections: very many of them can be solved using smart collections and people should be encouraged to do that. They will not survive a data crash either, but if metadata are saved to the image files at least it should be possible to restore the collections. Also, dumb collections may not be possible to transfer to other DAM systems, but metadata will and therefore smart collections can be re-created.

  31. Don Hull 26 January, 2015 at 04:14 Reply

    Good advice. As you say, messing around in the folders area is a quick way to cause trouble.

    My first advice to a new user is that if you don’t already have a good systematic hard disk storage system don’t start using LR until you fix that problem. Once you do start using LR only use the hard disk storage system when you add new images to your hard disk, use Collections the rest of the time.

    I’m looking forward to the next 9 posts on this subject.


  32. Dena Flows 26 January, 2015 at 04:11 Reply

    Two things:
    1.- I don’t have bad pictures imported into lightroom. I preselect those I like, delete the rest (fully erase) and import those who deserve disc space. So, everything in my folders is worth a look.
    2.- I tried the collections way once and it slowed lightroom big time. I got rid of them all. Mind you, I needed almost 2K folders.
    All the best. Dena Flows

      • Rodrigo Capuski 27 January, 2015 at 06:07 Reply

        There isn’t wrong way, if you know what are you doing, the best way is that you feel comfortable and confident to work with.
        By the way, i prefer to use folders too, there are some advantages against collections. And yes, i don’t have bad pictures archived too, it’s useless.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *