Lightroom Tips

No Time To Get Organized in Lightroom? Then Don’t!

Hey everyone. I wanted to take a minute to give you a suggestion that’s helped a lot of people in my seminars. I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback from it – sighs of relief and just overall it seems like it’s helped a lot of Lightroom users out there.

A Question I Get All The Time
See, one of the questions I get asked quite a bit is how to bring in all of some one’s older photos that may be scattered among multiple drives and stored all over the place. Even worse, they’re older photos that may exist in another program like iPhoto or Aperture.

There’s really no trick to it other than following the same import process you normally would for your photos. You can do some tricks to help get things from, say, iPhoto in to Lightroom but there’s no direct import from one to the other.

Instead, Try Doing Nothing With Your Older Photos
Here’s what I suggest. If these photos aren’t crucial to your everyday work, and you don’t need the option to instantly access them, consider just working with Lightroom from now going forward. Maybe save a folder (or even a few folders) of all of your favorite photos, and import them into Lightroom so you at least have them in your library if you want to share or print them. But leave the old stuff where it is.

Here’s why. You may end up going through a ton of work to get those photos in to Lightroom. Depending on how many there are, you’ll have to go back and organize them all. Maybe even re-edit all of them. All that work for photos that you just don’t refer to often. Why? Just so you have them in your catalog with all of your newer stuff? It may not be worth it. For so many people I’ve talked to, these older photos aren’t mission critical and almost all of the people I ask say that they rarely every refer back to them. They’ve got some final JPEGs of their favorites and that’s all they ever need from older photo shoots.

Anyway, it’s just a suggestion. If you need quick access to your older photos then this may not be the suggestion for you. If not, give it some thought and just start using Lightroom the right way from today going forward. I’ve had many people tell me this tip saved them from many hours of work and that it’s really helped them out. Thanks for stopping by. Have a great day!



  1. Simon Albury 5 September, 2013 at 04:29 Reply

    Thank you, Paul. I found your advice too late. I was able to import all my older photos but soon asked myself “What’s the point?” There are some old photos that I have reprocessed in Lightroom 5 but I certainly can see no benefit in having imported them all. I’m am very glad to have discovered you and your blog via a discussion on DPReview.

  2. mike wilson 8 August, 2013 at 15:12 Reply

    There is always Bridge. Most of us used it (and still do)and know how to use it. One can use Camera Raw or Ps to work on those files. I also think that if you open a Bridge file, work on it and then save it as a PSD or CR2 file it will be seen by Lr- is that correct? The Lr problems usually come up with JPEG files for me.

  3. John Vantland 8 August, 2013 at 09:49 Reply

    One small thing to do “from this day forward” is when importing new photos start to input key words. Try to develop a standard method like all lowercase singular use only (flower not flowers), etc. Just start doing this today and when you get time, go back to important old folders and do the same, if you wish and only if you have time.

  4. Dennis Zito 8 August, 2013 at 07:08 Reply

    Hi Matt,

    Darn good Info! As you and I discussed a while back, it isn’t worth missing with older drives and catalogues. Since LR 5 came out, I’ve decided to use your method. I have several drives with photos and I can find what I want using your method. Thanks! I do have a question for you though. When using LR (no matter which version) when you use plug-ins or go back and forth to PS, we end up with several Tiff or PSD files. I stack them, but it that really necessary? Once I’m done editing, should I just keep the original and final tiff or psd, and then remove all the in between tiffs or PSDs? What’s your thoughts on this? Those extra photos take up quite a lot of disk space.



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