Affiliate Disclosure: We earn a commission if you purchase through one of our links at no additional cost to you.
The best way to organize Lightroom Classic is to use the method that makes the most sense to you. Many Lightroom Classic trainers ignore this basic truth and go on to teach their way, without giving any path or options for people who just think about things differently.
If only there were a way to learn what tools Lightroom Classic offers to organize, find and share your photos and then combine that with a strategy you can personalize to your preference.
Well, that’s just what I think I’ve done with my new course – Where’s My Photo?
Why You Need to Organize Lightroom Classic
I can tell you that two enormous benefits happen when you organize Lightroom Classic and some possible others.
1: Avoid Frustration
I got tired of being frustrated. Always scrolling looking for a photo that I knew was in there, somewhere. A lot of Lightroom teachers tell you to organize your photos by date, creating all of these complex folders and sub-folders.
As if I knew when I took the photo that I wanted to find.
I don’t remember dates other than my wedding anniversary, birthdays, and some holidays. All the other dates are just cluttered to me.
The way I reference photos in my memory is my personal information. I remember names, places, and events. You don’t get any of that from a mess of date-based subfolders.
Also, why should I have to do the work to create those folders when I bought Lightroom Classic to organize things for me? There’s something excruciatingly silly about that kind of advice.
Besides, the camera embeds time & date into each photo. Set your camera and forget about it.
2: Save Time
You need to know two things to save time searching for something as if it were a needle in a haystack.
You need to know the tools that Lightroom Classic has to offer, and you need to know a strategy to use them. And the strategy ought to work the way your memory works.
You’re much more likely to organize your photos and find them later if you like your strategy.
Common Errors When Organizing Lightroom Classic
Many people think that Collections and Keywords are the only way to organize and find your photos in Lightroom Classic. They’re good tools, but certainly not the only tools you can use. In fact, these tools often get abused.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people open their Collections in Lightroom and scroll through a nearly endless list of Collections. Here’s your first clue that you aren’t organized.
If you’re scrolling, you aren’t organizing Lightroom Classic.
The same clue works here. People add endless keywords to photos, or sometimes none at all. I’ve heard people say that they don’t know what to add as a keyword.
Yet those same people have endless lists of Collections.
My tip; If you can think of a name for a Collection, then you also thought of a name for a Keyword.
1: How I think about Collections and Keywords
If your photos are in a Library, use the same metaphors we use for books.
Think of your Collections as chapters in a book. That puts you right at the start of a block of information. You don’t need a lot of chapters (or Collections) for every little thing. It’s just to get you started in the right place.
Now think of your keywords like the index of a book. Each of those keywords are like indices, pointing you to specific places to find something you want.
Combine Collections and Keywords, and you have an extremely powerful way to limit how many photos you search, and then spot just the photos with the specific keyword that you want.
2: Here’s an Example of How I Organize Lightroom Classic
I like to do portrait photography. Sometimes product photography, too. They both have one thing in common. I use the Calibrite ColorChecker Passport to help me get accurate colors.
The Calibrite ColorChecker Passport Photo 2 is the perfect tool for avoiding frustration with poor colors in your photos.
The Portable Protective Case accommodates multiple positions for easy use with four specialized targets. You can create custom camera profiles based on your individual camera/lens/lighting combinations for DNG and ICC workflows. You can also create a custom in-camera white balance for a consistent white point across a set of images without needing to correct each image later.
The enhancement patches allow you to check and evaluate shadow details and highlight clipping, and the lanyard ensures that your Passport is always where you need it.
I only need one photo of this thing, but it’s very important to my workflow. For a given session, I may take hundreds of photographs.
Why would I waste time scrolling through all of those photos to find one specific one when there’s a better way?
I create a Collection for that session and add a Keyword to that photo identifying it as the ColorChecker Passport photo. A little time invested when I import photos pays off with a lot of time saved (and reduced frustration) later on when I need to go back to those photos.
Organizing Lightroom Classic is More than Collections and Keywords
While important, there’s a lot more information I want to have included in my photos so I can search for them. I don’t want to do a lot of manual effort, either.
That’s why we have metadata presets and other tools that identify our photos, subject matter, locations, contact info and more information. I show you how to use all of that, and the power of automation, inside Where’s My Photo.
Would You Like Where’s My Photo for Free?
Imagine getting a course to help you organize Lightroom Classic as a free bonus for subscribing to the Adobe Creative Cloud. Well, it’s possible.
If you subscribe to an Adobe Creative Cloud plan using my affiliate link, I’ll give you the course for free.
If you're a photographer, there's no doubt that you've heard of Adobe Creative Cloud. And if you haven't, well, let us introduce you! Adobe Creative Cloud is a subscription service that gives you access to two industry-leading products for photographers: Photoshop and Lightroom Classic. With Creative Cloud, you can edit and organize your photos and bring your creative vision to life.
There’s no additional cost to you. If you subscribe, I get a small commission. It doesn’t matter if you’re starting with Lightroom Classic or if you’re renewing your existing plan.
All you have to do is subscribe using my affiliate link. Then email me a copy of your receipt to [email protected] I’ll verify that the purchase used my affiliate link and then grant you access to the course.
If You Don’t Like Affiliate Links
No problem. I want everyone to have an opportunity to organize Lightroom Classic. That’s why I’m offering this course at a low price. Just click the link to visit the Where’s My Photo Course Page to check it out.
Video Preview of Where’s My Photo
Check out the video to see what the course is all about and get a preview inside the course environment.
This show is for Lightroom users, particularly Lightroom Classic. If you're having a problem, organizing your photos, trust me. So have we. Don't worry, I think we've got an answer to it. And that's what we're gonna talk about today on I Like Your Picture. I'm William Beem. Welcome to, I Like Your Picture. The show that helps you improve your photography with visual storytelling.
What is visual storytelling? It's a method of approaching your photography with a knowledge of who you're trying to serve with your photos and what emotion you want to make them feel. We encourage you to concentrate on your subject, light and background to create a photo your audience loves. I'm glad you found us. Hi, my name is William Beem. Hi, my name is Lee Beem. Doesn't that sound so much better now?
Yes. All right. For those of you who may have listened to our last couple of episodes, I'd switched out our audio gear. I got a Rodecastor Pro, and I guess the result was kind of crunchy. Honestly, the thing died after one week of use. Yeah, we got to do one afternoon for recording. Yeah, we did two shows on the thing and honestly,
I thought they sounded horrible and I figured, okay, that's me because I didn't dial them in just right. But now that's okay. We're back to our old gear. I'm happy. And let's get on with the show.Today, we're going to be talking about the best way to organize your photos in Lightroom Classic and what we hope you can take away from this.
You know, the first off the benefits of just getting organized and Lightroom classic, we're going to talk about a few techniques you can use to get started. And trust me Lee will have different techniques than I have because we never do anything the same way. And then we're going to talk about where you can find more information to help you get organized in Lightroom Classic.
And that's kind of a tease because I have an announcement towards the end of the show. Yes. Why don't we talk about the frustration of being disorganized? Lee are you an organized person? I am, but I'm organized within what sometimes is apparently chaos to other people. I guess that's the case for most of us. I always have a system as long as nobody else messes with it.
My system makes logical sense to me that I'll be the first one to acknowledge that it's not necessarily a logical way of doing things to other people. And I think part of that is because most of the time when I've done organizing and things, I've been doing something on my own that has never been designed to be used or accessed by other people. Even when I've had a job where I've had to organize or set up archive systems,
I got to do it because there wasn't one. I kind of set up what made sense to me and taught everybody how to use it. And that was it. So I've never really had to figure out somebody else's logic. My logic is I guess, a little bit different, but it makes sense to me. And that's, what's important if I'm the one who needs to find things,
Something I keep in mind is that what works for one person may or may not work for somebody else. It doesn't mean that there aren't generic systems that can work for everybody. The way that makes most sense to you is the way that you're going to enjoy using and you're more likely to use it, if you have a system that you understand and it thinks the way you think. Now that's led to a lot of frustration on my part,
trying to learn how to organize things in Lightroom because I've gone to a number of sources about how they said you do it. And there was one guy that says, okay, the first thing you do is ignore. Lightroom. Go to your operating system, whether it's the Finder in Mac or Windows Explorer, and make a folder. And then underneath that folder make another folder for the year.
And then underneath that and make another folder for all the months. Then underneath that make another folder for all the days of the month. And then you change your laptop. And then what? Well, I guess you have to copy your data, but the whole idea was I got Lightroom to help me organize. Why do I have to do all this stuff before I can even touch Lightroom?
And the truth is you don't. A lot of people are wasting their time making all these date folders. And believe it or not, If you really insist on having that, Lightroom, we'll do it for you automatically based upon the time and date that's inside of your camera, that gets recorded in your photos. You don't have to manually go do all this stuff.
It's advice like that, that just really kind of put me off of a lot of things that people are training and they're so inconsistent from one person to the next. And I thought, all right, I'm going to have to figure this out. I had my share of frustrations and eventually decided I'll do it my way. But the problem is it's not necessarily your first priority.
It's like one of those things like I want to get to it, but there are other things that are more important. And then what that leads to is a lot of scrolling. So I've got tens of thousands of photographs. I've got collections and I've got keywords. Trust me. If I'm looking for something, I'm going to be scrolling either through a list of collections,
a list of photos or list of keywords. And I thought this is no better. I think I figured it out. The idea is there are multiple tools inside of Lightroom that can help you get organized. Most people just don't know about them because everybody talks about collections and keywords, but they don't have a strategy for it other than go build date-based folders.
And I'm thinking, well, if I want photographs of Las Vegas, you know, I've been there multiple times. Do I have to remember every time that I was there and then go look through those dates? That makes no sense at all. Where's the power of Lightroom if I have to go do everything based off of folders. Yeah. And I mean,
if you see, I've never used dates to organize things ever, because when you've got maybe 50 photos and some things recent in your mind, you remember the date. I mean, unless it's an important date, like a birthday or an anniversary or Christmas, but even with those, they happen every year. So you don't necessarily remember exactly which year something happened.
I mean, even with little kids, you think you're gonna remember, Oh, that was four. And that was six. Well, when the little kid is 20, you don't actually remember. No, you don't. And let's say that it's, you're looking for travel photos. I went to Havana. I went St. Lucia. I remember where I went.
I don't exactly remember the year end date that I went. You know, I know it has been a few years ago, but I've got to find things based upon what I can remember. And if I have to remember things based on date, the only thing I'm ever going to find would be our wedding photos. Because at least I can remember what day we got married.
Thank goodness. Yeah. That was an important one, for me. If you're listening to podcast, you should be applauding me right now because I gave the right answer to my wife. Yes he did. But I'm going to quiz him on the actual days afterwards. No, no. I mean, I remember that it was a date just before our dog's birthday.
That's how I always said we need to pick a day. I can remember. So it was the day before the Labrador's birthday. Well, it couldn't be on the Labrador's birthday because that was already taken Double date. Nope. All right. Before I digressed too much, one of the things I've found is that people talk about collections and they talk about keywords and say,
should I use this? Or should I use that? I'm thinking use both. I look at it this way. Collections are like chapters in a book. Key words are like the index of the book, the indices in there. So the collections will take you to the start of the chapter and say, okay, from here, I can start looking for what I want.
And if you just need a broad reminder, like here's a collection for my trip to Saint Lucia, that works fine. But if I need to know, where's the photo of the person that I did as a photo shoot. Now, whether it was the mountain bikers going downhill, whether it was a fireman or whether it was a musician, keywords are going to take me right to the right place.
Yeah. And then you get into problems like, okay, well, what do I do for keywords? And there's a simple way to do it. We'll talk about that a little bit later, but I want to pass things over to Lee because she does things with Lightroom very differently. She still uses keywords, but she doesn't necessarily use it to search in Lightroom.
So why don't you explain how you use it? When I import my photos, cause to me, that's where it starts. I stick, the card into the little memory thingy that's connected to the computer. And then I went to import. So I choose the ones that I went to import. I select them. And as soon as I've imported them, the first thing I do is apply my keywords.
I probably wouldn't have done anything with organization to do with Lightroom if I hadn't found key words. Cause I got so frustrated with, you know, my kind of onboarding experience with it. And ironically keywords was something that I found out by accident. Because I already used, I was used to using tags for everything which I did from my photos. That's a different story.
Let's say that I've taken a large batch of photos and there's a variety of them. And they're all to do with cooking. I was doing a cooking day and I've decided to import of my say 200 photos. I've decided, okay, 25 make the cut. I import those. And then the first thing I do is I select them. All everything has to do with everything is I'll have food,
kitchen, table photography, like whatever I'm doing, you know, from a keywords. And they'll apply that to everything. Now I'm going to go and separate them, someone to have bread. So I'll select the ones that have got bread in. I'll select the coffee photos. I'll select the ones with. So yes, it does take a little bit more fiddling,
but usually there's not just one photo at a time that you have to do. There is a blanket batch of them. And I start from the big picture and I start hitting up the details with the specific photos or little groups of photos and fine tune them as it were. Once the keywords are in there, that's all I need. When I export my photos,
I always give them names. I always put them into I've got folders and that's where I have my folders. I didn't use this Lightroom... What do you call those? Like whatever the fancy names are for the little things that you make to sort your photos in there. I don't do that stuff. I sort mine on my external hard drive. So what I do is I'll I'll know where they going.
So I'm going to have a folder on my hard drive. That's let's say in this case, it's under food and I will then go and select an export the specific ones into their sub category. So it will be baking, soup, bread or whatever. And I actually do put things like that into the name of the file itself. And she's doing all the same things that I do.
The only difference is she's not using the Lightroom Library to search and manage it. But this is kind of the technique that we talk about is when you import things you want to change the name. Like mine says like DSC3749 whatever .NEF or whatever, kind of a raw file I've got, it'll give you something like that.
And that means absolutely nothing to anyone. But the only metadata that you have in there is what you get from your camera, the EXIF data. And it'll tell you the date and time. Hopefully you've got the right time inside of your camera. Not everybody does. Lee doesn't, apparently. I've never bothered to set the date on mine. That's a shame. I'm wonderful about keeping my time
right. Because it's important to me. Lightroom can use that information. You don't have anything personal inside of that data yet. And that's why when you import, one of the first things you do is you change the name of the photos. So at least it gives you an idea of what the session was. If you have the time set in your camera,
you don't have to put the date and time in the name. Although, although it sounds like Lee probably should, if the date were important to her, then you can add other data there's IPTC metadata. And I could tell you that International Press Telecommunication Council, but you'll never need to really worry about that name again. Cause everybody just calls it IPTC. You can put in your copyright information.
You can put an information about your model, if you have one. You can put contact information for yourself and all of this stuff will go with the file that you export and or not. There are settings in Lightroom that will keep it from exporting information that you don't want to. So for example, if you have location data and you're taking photos in your house,
you probably don't want that to go out to the world. So when you there's a nice little check box there. So you can say, you know, strip out my personal information, strip out my location data, or you can have different presets that will just decide what data goes out. But for yourself, organizing things inside of Lightroom that IPTC metadata is glorious. Collections,
I think people overuse. I've seen people with collections that will just span and scroll every little thing they ever imported. And quite honestly, I think that's a waste. If you're going to do something like that, at least do collection sets and you can nest one collection set inside of another collection set. So you don't have to have everything go up and down vertically where you're scrolling.
You can say these are things that I've taken my portraits. And then underneath that collection set, there might be different types of portraits. You know, maybe this is boudoir. Maybe this is lifestyle. Maybe this is fashion. And then underneath that you can have different photo sessions. I'm just throwing this out. As an example. On your key words, you can do similar things for nesting and you can have a keyword hierarchy.
The nice thing about that is when you export something lower on the hierarchy, you can have it export all the headings above it, so that you get a lot of data with just one keyword put inside of your metadata box, you know, with the keyboarding box. And I do this all the time. For each key word, you can have a choice if you open it up,
you'll say, do you want this keyword to export? Well, some I do because that's data that someone else might search for. Information that they wouldn't search for, like my main category, I can say, no, I don't want that to export. So you've got a choice for each of these levels or keywords as to whether they export or not. And when you're looking at that keyboarding box,
there's a little control drop down there. Click that. And you'll see one that says Will Export. And that'll show you all the things that will be sent off either to other applications or to Flickr or 500PX or whatever sharing site that you want. And between that, and then also another thing called synonyms, you can get a lot of power. I've got photos here that only have two key words in the box,
but it, it gives you a lot of detailed information about the location and the subject matter because of that hierarchy and synonyms. Anyways, I don't want to go over every little thing inside of Lightroom. I just want to give it a couple of examples that with a little bit of strategy and a little bit of knowledge of the tools that are there, you can really tame and master where your photos are and how to find them.
Let's say that I do a portrait session somewhere during that portrait session, I'm going to have the subject hold up a color checker passport. And that's just this little thing that I can get white balance off of it. I can get these little colorful cubes I use later on post rustling to make sure that my color is accurate. Well, I don't want to scroll through the entire set.
I might have hundreds of photos, but I put a keyword on there that tells me this photo has the color checker passport. Easily, I can find it. So maybe I go to that collection set for that session. I search key word for the color checker passport and boom, my photo is right there. I don't have to go through this long convoluted thing.
And none of that had anything to do with date related folders on my operating system. All this metadata that you put in your photos, exports with your photos, if you want them to. And that's really where Lee and I have something similar and something separate. We're using the same tools to put in information that we can use to find our photos. And also if we share them someplace that's information that other people can use to search and find our photos.
And because of that information, I've actually had opportunities to sell my photos, to people who are looking for certain things. I had an art buyer who wanted some abstract photos and she found some of mine. And I sold that to her. I had a Congressman who wanted a picture of the United States Capitol to put on his labels on his wine bottles. He owned a winery and I also got contacted by a sporting magazine who wanted a picture that I took of Han Solo,
frozen in Carbonite. They were going to use that for, I think James Harding froze at a basketball game, one time. They want to put them on there. We actually didn't come to a deal. They weren't willing really to pay much for it. So I just said no, but they found me. They contacted me because I was able to put the right information out there.
Some of that included my contact information so they could reach out to me to see about licensing my photos. So simply organizing my photos made money for me. Alright, so why am I talking about all of this today? I'm announcing that I have a new course and it's called Where's My Photo. And it is everything you need to organize, find and share your photos. It's available.
Well, by the time this comes out, it should be available. I'm putting the finishing touches on it as we recorded. I've already got the course recorded. Everything's up on the site. I'm just testing out a few things out. When this episode comes out, you can go to https://williambeem.com/courses. And you're going to find Where's My Photo.
Just to make sure that everybody has a chance to get to this. I've priced it very low. I'm putting it out there at $27. There are 25 lessons inside of the course. Video lessons, right? They're video lessons. And also you can search inside the video. So if you're remembering that there's a word or a phrase or something that I mentioned,
there's actually a little search thing inside of each of the videos because of the hosting system I use. And you can search there. And if you see the word that you searched for, it'll highlight in blue, you click on that and it'll take you right to the point in the video where I said that. So you don't have to go scrolling and scrubbing through it.
So you can download the audio. You can download the captions or you can search through it. And I think that's kind of a nice thing for training videos. Yeah, it is. So you got a shortcut to find your, your spots. There's a way to get this course for free. If you do not have Lightroom or if you're ready to come up for renewal on your Creative Cloud subscription,
you can use my coupon code and that is available at https://williambeem.com/cc. That'll take you to Adobe. If you sign up using that link and then you get your receipt, send it to me at [email protected] I'll verify it. And once I, it I'll give you access to the course for free. Sounds good to me.
Well, I look at it as it's kind of like a bonus, you know, it's it is an affiliate sale. I make some money off of people who subscribe to the Creative Cloud through that link. There's no extra cost to anybody who uses that affiliate link, but you do get a bonus for using my affiliate link and you can get this course for free.
And if you've already got Lightroom, you've already paid for it and you're not going to use my affiliate link. That's okay. Too. $27 is I think a reasonable price for a course like this with 25 lessons. And it goes into depth and detail, and also there's a bit of a community that goes with it, we've got a discussion group.
So if you have any questions, you can just go in there. You can talk to other people. You can talk to me. That's the little offer I have for you today. So once again, go to https://williambeem.com/courses and look for Where's My Photo. It'll be right there. $27 to sign up. You can do it on your credit card,
or you can do it on PayPal. And if you have any questions, please go ahead, send a note to [email protected] Oh, I know. I almost forgot this. If you go to that course, there's also a video out there that kind of explains what it's about. It shows you a little bit of what the course looks like inside. You can do that before you email.
So you can take a look at that, but this is something that helps us keep the lights on here. So we've got the course on Luminar AI Elements that I've previously mentioned on the podcast. And now we have Where's My Photo to find things and organize things inside of Lightroom Classic. I hope it's helpful to you. I hope you'll tell a friend who maybe has a mess in their Lightroom Library.
And if you have any questions, let me know. Thank you so much for joining us on. I Like Your Picture. This is episode 254. You can find show notes and the link to get to the course at williambeem.com/episode254. Or as I mentioned, you'd go to williambeem.com/courses, and you'll find Where's My Photo right there.
And if you're a messy and disorganized, don't worry. This will help you find your own strategy to get everything in order the way that you want it to be. Thanks so much. We'll see you again next week.