How to Organize Your Photos In Lightroom

Now that you know typically the layout of Lightroom’s Library and Develop modules, I’ll cover the various tools for your use when youre trying to organize your current images. Below, I’ll generally stick to the basics:-


Like the majority of photo organization software, Lightroom lets you rate your pictures by giving them the “star” label. You can give a picture a rating through 1-5 stars, or even you can keep it unrated.

The best way to do this is just to click on the number in your keyboard corresponding to the stars you want to offer. Technically, you could do a similar by simply going to Photo > Set Rating > Five Star, but honestly, that is much more complicated than necessary.

How to Organize Your Photos In Lightroom


Flags are just like stars, but without as many options. You can flag a picture as pick one which you like or flag picture as reject. And, of course , you can also keep a photo unflagged.

Personally, I use typically the flag options really often. When Im loading photos, and I think that I actually want to delete a picture, I flag it as reject. Then, later, I actually examine all my rejects and decide if any of them are worth keeping.

To be able to flag a image as pick, click “P. ” To flag that as a reject, click “X” instead.

Color Labels

Another way to group your picture is to give them “color label.

This particular doesn’t actually perform everything to the images themselves. There’s simply no behind-the-scenes thing you can do along with images of a specific color label which you can’t do along with others; like stars or flags, it is just an extra method to give yourself a grouping that will is simple to identify later on.

Personally, for example, I actually tend to assign a red color label to a group of images that I’m eventually planning to mix into a panorama. That just causes them to be less difficult to recognize later on.

Additional photographers will label photos that they will desire to look through together at a later time for example, giving a blue label to all the wedding images which include the bride. This just depend upon your own style of photography there is no right or wrong way to use labels in Lightroom.

To give a photo a color label, click 6, 7, 8, or 9 on your keyboard.


If you want a simple way to find your images later, consider giving them keywords.

This is precisely what it sounds like you simply label your pictures with a few useful terms that will help you find them at some point in the future.

To give a picture the keyword, you require to be in the Library module. On right-hand pop-out tab, you’ll see option called “Keywording. ” Click on this, and type whatever keywords apply in order to a particular picture (separated by a comma).

Personally, I don’t use keywords much as landscape photographer, but I am aware event and wedding photographers who find them invaluable. Whether or not necessarily you use these in the long run, it’s worth getting a feel for keywords and seeing if they could be valuable for your work.

Using the Filter Bar to Find Your Photos Later

Every time that you label a photo, you’re making it easier for your future self to get it again. The primary tool that you will use to find your old pictures is known as the Filter Bar.

The particular Filter Bar enables you to sort your pictures by almost any characteristic:- Star rating, color label, camera, lens, aperture setting, file type, plus many more. As said before, the filter bar is thin, gray bar close to the top of your screen. Unless you see it in the Grid View, click the “\” button on your keyboard, or go to View > Show Filter Bar in the top menu.

In case you remember a single aspect about the particular photo you’re trying to find part of its file name, the 30 days you took this, a range of ISO values you most likely used you are able to narrow down your search significantly by using the particular filter bar.

Say, for example, that you know that one of your old photos was taken with the Nikon D800e, and you gave this five stars, yet you can’t find the photo anywhere. After going in order to the “All Photographs” folder in the top-left of Lightroom’s Library module, open typically the filter bar and start searching:-

How to Organize Your Photos In Lightroom

In this article, I was able to narrow the search from 26, 647 photos down to just 369!

I prefer this option just about all the time, if to find missing images or to learn useful statistics about my shooting style (i.e., how many photos I’ve that with each of my lenses over time).

Once you know how to use the filter bar in Lightroom, you should be in a position to find virtually any photo that youre missing. It’s a new useful tool to have at your disposal.

Adding Photos to Collections

The single favorite point about Lightroom may be the ability to add photos to collections.

Exactly what are Lightroom collections? Basically, collections are similar to the file structure of the pictures on your pc except that they only exist in Lightroom, plus you can add a single picture to as many collections as you would without a problem.

Here is an example. Say that one of my photos is stored on my computer’s hard drive at Spencer > Photos > 2016 > 02 February. But say that I also want that photo stored in a folder called “Best Landscape Photos, ” in a folder called “For Photography Life, ” and in folder called “Photos to Print.”

Within the file structure in the computer, I’d have to duplicate the exact same image several times, taking up lots of room on the hard disk drive. Plus, any time which i edited one of the particular photos, the other copies would stay unchanged! It is a obvious problem the clear problem that Lightroom’s collections fix.

Right now, I can have photo stored on my hard drive at Spencer > Photos > 2016 > 02 February, which will show up at the left-hand sidebar in Lightroom’s Library module. But, at the same time, I can add it to a “Best Landscape Photos” collection, a “For Photography Life” collection, and a “Photos to Print” collection. This way, its actual file location remains unchanged, and I don’t end up duplicating the original photo at all.

How to Organize Your Photos In Lightroom

To keep your collections organized, you can group them into “collection sets. ” Personally, for example, my favorite photos from Colorado are stored at From > Trips > Colorado > Best. (In this case, only the “Best” is a collection, while the others are collection sets.)

The advantage of this system will be that you’re not really creating duplicates of photo each time you add it to collection. A picture that’s in 1 collection takes up efficiently the same amount of space as photo that is in five, 12, or fifty collections! And, similarly, any edits you make in order to a photo in one of the collections are also visible in all the others. This is exactly how photo organization should be.

Virtual Copies

What are the results if you need to edit one photo in multiple ways? Say, for example , that you just like an image in both color and black and white how do you keep two separate versions of the photo?

It’s actually quite easy:- Create virtual copy.

Lightroom’s virtual copies usually are exactly like duplicating an image on your current hard drive, except that it only takes place in Lightroom, and it doesn’t twice the amount of space taken up! Virtual copies usually are very useful way to keep a variety of edits of the same picture with no significant storage penalties.

Yet , be wary of keeping many different virtual copies of your photo just because. It may be easy to have your virtual copies get out of hand, where you don’t realize which one of those is actually typically the most up-to-date. Personally, I only try to create virtual copies when I want to keep version of typically the photo that is usually vastly not the same as original, and i also would not get confused in between the two.

With that one caution virtual copies are very useful tool. I end up using virtual copies relatively often, particularly for my main portfolio images. It’s a quick way to keep multiple edits of your most-used shots.

(For what it’s worth, if you’re trying to keep things simple, it is good using Develop snapshots, which often I mentioned before, to a related effect. A virtual copy is essentially a Develop snapshot that appears even more tangibly in your actual library.)

Smart Previews

If you store all your photos on an external hard drive, and you remove the external hard drive, you’ll actually still see those photos appear in Lightroom! They’ll just be very low-resolution previews, and they’ll have little exclamation marks at the top to indicate that Lightroom is confused:-

How to Organize Your Photos In Lightroom

In the most recent versions of Lightroom, even though, there’s actually a way to use these previews for something useful:- creating something called smart preview.

A Smart preview is precisely what you think it is:- It’s the preview of the picture that act as if it’s the picture itself. You are able to edit it, organize it, and export it without any problem things that you are unable to necessarily do with a normal preview.

Smart previews don’t replace your actual photograph. They’re lower-resolution, for one, and they don’t actually show up on your hard drive. They are present solely within Lightroom’s catalog.

However, the benefit of smart previews will be that you may edit them exactly like typical pictures, and, whenever you reconnect your hard disk later on, all those edits will sync back up to the original photo as if nothing happened.

Individually, I don’t make use of smart previews, since they take up a significant amount of space compared to “dumb” previews. However, if you’re frequently connecting and disconnecting different hard drives, and you don’t want a break in your workflow, they can be very useful.

Next up? Editing your pictures.