Organizing Photos in Lightroom

There are many articles out there that explain how best to store your photo archive if you use Lightroom. I was going to write one too but I don't think the world will really benefit from me rehashing what other writers have already said.

If you watch the video above by Peter Krogh, who wrote the book on Digital Asset Management, you'll have a good idea of the basics. I organise my photos in a very similar fashion.

Use Dated Folders

You may have read elsewhere or seen YouTube videos that encourage you to put descriptive titles in the folders where you store your photos, but I would urge you to keep the folder names as simple as possible. I agree with Peter Krogh that you keep the directory names simple but instead of using project names as he did above, I use dates. I use YYYY/YYYY-MM-DD as the folder name when importing.
Using project based folder names makes things complicated. Occasionally I won't bother copying photos off my camera, especially if they're just snapshots, so it would be an extra hassle importing first my cat photos from Friday, and then my street photos on Saturday. It's much easier to go into "Previous Import" and add a few keywords. This won't happen that often, but I guarantee it will.

When you're looking through your photo archive it probably won't be through a file manager, it'll be in Lightroom, so the folder names don't matter, but the dated folder names provide a logical and predictable naming convention that will always be the same.

Instead of relying on folder names use keywords and collections to sort your photos. Use ratings or colours to refine further. You can then use Lightroom filters to quickly find whatever photo you need. This short tutorial on collections explains how to use them.

Use Import Presets

As well as DSLR photos, I import photos from my phone into Lightroom, and now that I'm doing a 365 day photo project too I'll be importing fully edited photos from my phone. I use Snapseed to edit those photos so I wanted some way of identifying those photos. Import Presets were the answer!

I use import presets to configure import options like destination folder, file renaming, metadata information, keywords, and even develop settings:

  • Away: used when I'm not at home with my laptop. Usually on a work trip or holiday. The destination folder is on the local drive. Everything else goes to an external one. When I get home I move the files to external storage and tell Lightroom where the missing files are.
  • Jacinta's Photos: my wife's camera phone photos go in a specific directory with different keywords and metadata.
  • Mobile Import: import photos I've already synced from my phone. Adds the keyword "phone" and puts the photos into a different directory structure.
  • SD Card: settings used when I'm importing DSLR photos.
  • Snapseed: my newest import preset. This adds the keyword "snapseed" and moves photos into the same folder as the Mobile Import preset. I use the keyword to
  • identify these files.

Use Publish Actions

These allow you to export photos with particular settings. This allows you to tailor your photos for different sites. For example, Instagram uses 1080×1080 pixel images. Your blog will have a different width. Facebook has other restrictions.

Use the WordPress Lightroom Plugin

The Lightroom Exporter for WordPress allows you to export photos from Lightroom into your WordPress.com or self hosted WordPress site (if you're using Jetpack).

There has been so much written about Adobe Lightroom it's not hard to find answers to whatever questions you have. This was just a short summary of my thoughts about photo organization. I have a photo archive going back to 2001 and it has worked well for me. It'll probably work well for you too.