Or, Lightroom Guy’s Completely Over Explained and Over Simplified Method of Importing Photos and Maintaining the Lightroom Library

Part 4 – The Finale

Soooooo many LR users have struggled with lost files and keeping their libraries organized that even Adobe now has a warning at the very beginning of the Workflows chapter, in the Lightroom PDF manual:

“Important: When importing for the first time, think through how you want to organize your photos and where you plan to store them before you start to import. Planning ahead can help minimize the need to move photos later and possibly lose track of them in your catalog.”

And, lose track we do. Ah, but do they tell you how to do this? Nope. Nor do they tell you how to fix it if things get screwed up. I meet most of my new students because of this. Adobe assumes everyone knows how to come up with a plan to organize his or her photos. We don’t. And, just for the record, when I started with LR five years ago, boy did I screw up! It used to be that all my photos were in a file cabinet where I had clues as where things were: a bent file hanger, a yellow highlighter, an oddball brand of file folder I bought on a rainy Sunday or even a label written with a sharpie instead of a pen could get me where I wanted. That kind of human quality is something that no one has yet invented for the digital world.

I only use ONE catalog for everything and recommend it for everyone, even pros. Why? Because keeping multiple catalogs can turn your library into thousands of missing images. And, while I love meeting new students, repairing and organizing Lightroom catalogs instead of teaching Lightroom processing techniques is never much fun for anyone. I’d much prefer to get down to the art of Lightroom processing.

Importing From Start to Finish

I’ve tried not to get sidetracked with all of the available Lightroom options, but rather to demonstrate a simple method of importing that sustains an organized library, import after import. Truly, it’s taken me years of repairing LR libraries to figure this out. I hope that sharing this with you helps!

Here are Lightroom Guy’s 7 rules to an organized and secure library:

  1. Create ONE master Lightroom catalog and keep it in your Pictures folder, not your desktop – this means all your images will be in one place
  2. Always import into the same folder or hard drive location
  3. Import your Lightroom images to a dedicated external hard drive if possible, otherwise import them to the Pictures folder with your master Lightroom catalog
  4. Always use the 2014/05-19 dating format and, after importing, add names to the folders without deleting the dates – doing this will maintain a chronological folder structure by year, month and date
  5. Create an Import Preset and use it every time you import to guarantee your images are imported to the same place every time – this way you won’t loose track of your images
  6. NEVER, EVER move or delete any files or folders outside of Lightroom. Ever! If you do, I guarantee that Lightroom will loose your images.
  7. Finally, back up your entire computer and your external hard drive daily! I recommend Carbon Copy Cloner – It’s saved my @$$ more than a few times

Remember, there are only two kinds of computer users: those who have lost data and those who will.

P.S. Don’t forget to look at the previous postings of The Lightroom Library Mystery Parts 1, 2 and 3!