ARCHIVED DIGITAL TIPS:
Importing Images in Lightroom
with Will Van Beckum
Lightroom is an amazing program for photographers. It simplifies and expedites the workflow process so that we can spend more time making images and less time on the computer. And while Lightroom is designed to be simple and intuitive to use, it can seem daunting at first. These tips will get you started with some of the basics.
Let's start by getting our images into Lightroom. The most important thing to understand about Lightroom is that it does not actually store photos within the application itself. Your image files will live outside of Lightroom on your computer or external hard drive. Lightroom simply navigates to these files and displays them for organization and processing.
Think of Lightroom as the card catalog in a library. It keeps track of where all the books are, and directs us to them when we need a certain title. It is essential to never move or rename your photo files outside of Lightroom because Lightroom will lose track of where they are stored.
When you are first setting up your Lightroom catalog, it is important to create a well-organized file structure. I recommend picking a location on your computer (or external hard drive) where you want all of your photos to be stored. Make a new folder called “Lightroom Archives”. Once you’re in Lightroom, you will create subfolders within this folder each time you import new images.
I recommend using a naming convention like the screenshot below to make sure that your folders of images are organized chronologically by date.
Now that you understand what makes a good file structure, let’s get into Lightroom and create your own.
When you open Lightroom, make sure you’re in the “Library” module in the upper right corner. Plug in your camera’s CF or SD card into your computer or card reader. The import window may automatically open, but if it doesn’t, just click “Import” in the lower left corner.
This is the “Import Window.” Understanding it is the key to getting images into Lightroom in a well-organized fashion.
Let’s start on the left hand panel. This is where you will select the source: the place where your images are currently located (your camera’s SD or CF card). Select your camera card. It may be labeled as “Untitled” “No Name” or even the model of your camera. You should see your images pop up in the middle of the window.
Next, move over to the top center area of the Import Window and make sure that “Copy” is selected. This will ensure that the images on your card are copied onto your computer. You can also uncheck images that you don’t want to import into Lightroom if you like.
Next we’ll move over to the right hand panel. Many of the options here are for intermediate or advanced users and are beyond the focus of this tutorial, but I would recommend setting the “Build Previews” to “Standard.” This ensures that Lightroom will render previews for the images so you can view them at full resolution right away. You can also check “Don’t Import Suspected Duplicates” if you have old, previously-imported photos on your camera’s card.
Next, move down to “Destination.” This is perhaps the MOST IMPORTANT area in the Import Window because it indicates where Lightroom will store your images. First, you’ll want to set “Organize” to “Into one folder.” Next, navigate to the location on your hard drive or external drive where you created your “Lightroom Archives” folder earlier. Highlight this folder, and then click “Into Subfolder” and enter the name of the new subfolder where you’d like to store your images. Remember to type the date first in a year-month-day format (2014-06-28) followed by a descriptive title. This ensures that your folders will appear in chronological order.
Once you finish typing in the name of your subfolder, you should see the new folder appear inside your “Lightroom Archives” folder. It will appear in grey italics with a “+” next to it.
Once you have created your subfolder, you can click the “Import” button at the bottom right hand corner of your screen.
You will see a progress bar in the upper left hand corner of your screen as Lightroom imports your images onto your computer.
David Robin, a portrait and beauty photographer with more than 25 years of experience for clients such as Levi Strauss & Co., Gap, Sony, Coca-Cola, American Express, BMG, Blue Note, and PolyGram Records, knows a thing or two about photographic lighting. In this series on One Light Portraits, he shares his best, easy-to-follow tips for creating dynamic images in the studio.
See the full series on our YouTube channel.
During his 25-year career, portrait and beauty photographer David Robin has worked with subjects from Christy Turlington to Ray Charles to everyday heroes. In this series, he shares his best, easy-to-follow tips for communicating effectively with your subject and working with them as a team to achieve results you can both be proud of. See more videos from David Robin on the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops YouTube channel.
Interested in learning more about photographing people? Join us for one of our portraiture workshops in beautiful Santa Fe, New Mexico.