If Lightroom is hard for you, there may be a very simple, yet profound reason.

These days, most folks don’t seem to struggle with things like making their photos brighter or darker in Lightroom, or how to add more contrast or Clarity — those things are pretty straightforward now thanks to all the photo editing apps we use on our phones (including Lightroom). And yes, we can always get better at editing our images, but in my experience the area where people seem to struggle the most is organization. Hands down, this is where some people hit a wall and seem to be really stuck.

Here’s why Lightroom might be hard for you

Take a look at your computer. Not in Lightroom — just on your computer itself. Are all your image files neatly organized? Is everything under one single folder; easy to find, easy to get to? Or, are your image files kind of all over the place. Some folders are out on your desktop, some are in your Pictures (or My Pictures) folder but some are in your documents folder, or other places on your hard drive, or some on are external hard drives that maybe aren’t’ currently connected to your computer? If that’s the case — your images aren’t reasonably well organized on your computer, chances are you’re struggling with getting organized within Lightroom, too.

While it is possible to have a messy hard drive structure, and have Lightroom bring order to it all, it’s fairly unlikely that’s the case. On the flip side; if you’re images themselves are organized in a decent manner on your computer, then the Lightroom part should be a breeze.

Here’s what I would do:

It’s you’re struggling with your Lightroom organization; start by getting your images organized on your computer first. Get your images all in folders, within one main folder (I would recommend your Pictures folder on Mac, or My Pictures on Windows — put ALL your folders of photos inside that one folder). When you move folders of images around on your computer like this — outside of Lightroom — Lightroom will immediately lose track of where the images in that folder are now located. So, click on the Question Mark icon that now appears on those folders inside Lightroom Classic’s Folder panel and just point Lightroom to where you moved them to, so now it will know where they are. This should be easy, because they should all be in the same place (in your Pictures or My Pictures folder).

Organizing your images like this is the first step to a happy Lightroom life.

Here’s what else I would do: I did a whole online class on a system of getting organized in Lightroom like this; starting with getting your images organized outside of Lightroom first. The method is used by thousands and thousands of photographers, and this system I created is even taught in colleges and universities around the world as well. It’s called my “Simplified Lightroom Image Management” System (or SLIM System for short) and it takes you though how I organize my own images. It’s really simple (henceforth the name), and I think it could really help you make sense of it all. Once all your images are organized, and backed up; your whole Lightroom life will be greatly improved, and you’ll sleep much better at night for it.

Here’s the link to my course (you can join for $10 bucks and watch it right now). Check out the official trailer for it (below):

You could be totally organized this weekend. Imagine what it would be like if could know exactly where all your images are located — inside and outside of Lightroom and you can find the images you want fast. Imagine being totally backed up, organized and efficient. It’s easier than you’d think will just a little help and guidance. If Lightroom is hard for you, I really believe this is the course that can change it all for you. I hope you give it a look this weekend.

Here’s wishing you an organized, fun, happy Lightroom weekend. 🙂


P.S. Do you live near Seattle? Come out and spend the day with me next Wednesday. It’s 100% money-back guaranteed if it’s not the best photography seminar you’ve ever attended at any price, ever! Tickets here.



  1. Wayne Burnett 16 November, 2019 at 20:47 Reply

    It’s obvious Mr. Kelby is addressing people other than the ones who complain and seem to have total familiarity with using Lightroom. The worse thing a new Lr user can do is start using it without setting anything up. Folders, copyright
    metadata, understanding the diff between main modules, etc.
    My biggest suggestion is to watch specific Lr tutorials on one monitor / tablet / phone pausing them when needed,
    while performing the mirrored function in Lr. on computer’s monitor.
    Mr. Kelby has helped many over the years, and what he mentions here seems like it could be similarly helpful to people who want to start out on a good foot.

  2. Alan 16 November, 2019 at 10:25 Reply

    Are you serious? People are struggling with Lightroom because of finding pictures? That’s ridiculous. What a clickbait puff piece.

    That’s the equivalent of saying Microsoft Excel is hard to learn because you cannot find where all your models are. Ummm no. It’s hard to learn because there are a ton of features and finding them in the menus and learning nomenclature is difficult. Thanks for wasting my 5 min.

    • Scott Kelby 17 November, 2019 at 07:38 Reply

      I teach Lightroom in my live seminars all over the country. This week I’ll teach about 500 photographers at my live seminars and nearly ALL of their Lightroom questions will be about organization and the exact things I’m talking about in this post. Not a single one will be about making photos darker or lighter, or about finding things under the menus. It’s great that you find it all very obvious, but it’s not obvious to most users.

  3. JPdJ 16 November, 2019 at 07:46 Reply

    Agreed. And. We need to more explicitly discuss workflow from pre-envisioning to surrendering media for a specific type of use. Lightroom does the post part reasonably well. But I find planning, contracts and release to client could be much better.
    I would then argue that “workflow with asset and release management” could be a separate app with a CRM notion.
    I thought that LR and PS were developed for pros, but essentially the support is limited to some 1 FTE business.
    I also feel that support for deep color management could be better. Across the workflow.
    An aside to the asset management as it is today is the consideration we need to give to raw files, importing, renaming and culling, to side-car or to DNG, etc. Here, my doubt is if we still need to import. I appreciate non-destructive (why would you want anything else?) The catalogue with JPEG copies was just a way to facilitate non-destructive on a laptop en-route. Today, a 1 TB SSD is very affordable – no moving parts that can head bang crash your content – more reliable, faster and very small.
    We can explain how LR works and why, and can take insights back to Adobe. Just adding bells & whistles, or fixing bad software engineering from the past is not enough for them to maintain market share.

  4. Yannis 16 November, 2019 at 07:11 Reply

    Exactly what Keith Smith said! I have moved all my pictures out from My Pictures to my internal HDD, because the initial folder lives at my SSD.
    Nice article though. My primary fear back in those newbie days was exactly what you just described.

  5. Keiths Smith 15 November, 2019 at 11:38 Reply

    Please don’t tell people to use my photo for their images without telling them how to move it to a different place. This is especially true these days of small SSD os drives.

Leave a reply

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