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I want a better understanding of organization, use of folders and metadata in LR

Spencer

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Joined
Jun 23, 2016
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Organization is important to me. I have discovered how difficult it is to clean up a mess on a hard drive. Actually still working on that. I have tens of thousands of photos. Most without metadata. So I am working bit by bit on that. Made a mess pretty quickly on my first attempt at importing to a LR catalogue. Deleted that. I did learn a lot from all of that. I want to have a better understanding of how to organize and manage metadata before my second try at creating a LR catalogue.

I only want one catalogue.
I want the photos that the catalogue uses stored on an external hard drive, not my laptop.
I want to use folders, it is my understanding that if there is a loss of data collections are not saved.
I want to be careful to organize properly.
I want to be able to import all file formats including JPG.
I want to learn more about metadata between the different adobe products.
I want to utilize metadata correctly.

I am working in Bridge CC to add metadata and I did more work to organize photos on a hard drive dedicated to LR that I will use to add photos to the LR catalogue. Since the year is so important to metadata I set the folders up like Photos 2014, Photos 2015, Photos 2016. That way everything in the folder has the same copyright year. Within the folders I have categories like dogs, cats, plants etc. When I create the catalogue and add photos and folders to LR I don't anticipate any difficulties. I am concerned about subsequent additions.

I have a 3 terabyte hard drive that is full, another nearly full, definitely do not want that to connect to LR. I want to take organized photos from these two drives and add to the hard drive dedicated to LR. I know I can set up LR to not duplicate photos. Love that. As I add photos to the dedicated hard drive with metadata than connect to LR will it only add new photos or will it also include folders. Will it duplicate folders? Ignore folders? Or, will LR understand to add new photos to the folders in LR that share the same name as the folders that are on the hard drive? Or do I need to make subsequent additions of photos separate from folders? Than put them in related folders after they are added to LR? I am assuming once they are in LR I can add them or place them in the folders I choose. Is that correct?

On metadata, one thing I have read is once you put the photo in LR manage the metadata only in LR. But it does sound like I am okay to work on metadata in Bridge prior to adding to LR. What would be helpful to know about organization, folders and metadata prior to creating my next catalogue?

Thanks

Terri
 
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I'm not sure what happens in Bridge if you add the metadata there. I think Bridge is going to create an XMP sidecar file for your RAW originals. If these have not been imported into LR, then LR will pick up the metadata in the XMP files If the originals have already been imported, you would have been better off adding the metadata in LR and not creating the extra XMP file. Personally, I think Bridge is not suitable for a LR workflow. Everything that can be done in Bridge can be done in LR. So bridge is redundant.

Folders are a poor substitute for organization, In LR you organize with keywords, collections and smart collections. Membership in a collection is never stored in the XMP sidecar file. You only lose collection membership if you lose your catalog. All of your work effort is in your catalog. You never want to lose your catalog. That is what you have recent backups of the master catalog just like you make backups of the original image file and the XMP side card file (if you create it).

Just as important as where you park your master image files is developing a bulletproof workflow that will allow you to track your images from Import to Publish (and beyond).
The workflow that I use was developed by John Beardsworth and called Workflow Smart Collections. It uses smart collections to track which images have been imported, cropped, edit adjustments applied, Keywords added and Titles and captions added. With it, I can tell at a glance which images need work. I have a whole smart collection full of images that need Titles. Another smart collection of images that need (my minimum) two keywords. And so it goes until every indicator is checked, the image marked complete and the image is published.

I import into date named folders because the import process is quicj=ker that way that trying to think up cute descriptive folder names that should be in my keyword list. Once I import an image off of the camera card, ONLY LR is used to access it. You've chosen LR as your image organizer so you should use it and only LR to manage your image inventory. This includes using the folder panel in LR to move your images from a full disk drive to a new empty disk drive.

I've made some "Yuge" stupid user mistakes sometimes involving thousands of images. But working in LR and only LR I have been able to recover from those mistakes because I had adequate catalog backups. I don't create XMP sidecar file intentionally. And I certainly don't expect them to be useful if I need recovery.
 

PhilBurton

Lightroom enthusiast (but still learning)
Premium Classic Member
Joined
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Just as important as where you park your master image files is developing a bulletproof workflow that will allow you to track your images from Import to Publish (and beyond).
The workflow that I use was developed by John Beardsworth and called Workflow Smart Collections. It uses smart collections to track which images have been imported, cropped, edit adjustments applied, Keywords added and Titles and captions added. With it, I can tell at a glance which images need work. I have a whole smart collection full of images that need Titles. Another smart collection of images that need (my minimum) two keywords. And so it goes until every indicator is checked, the image marked complete and the image is published.

Clee,

To clarify, do you use "colors" or star ratings in your workflow?

Phil
 
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Clee,

To clarify, do you use "colors" or star ratings in your workflow?

Phil
I use both. I use color labels to indicate workflow state and ratings to indicate image quality and sometimes other things. Visually, I can look at color to understand where an image is in my workflow. I use a Color Label Set to match a meaningful text label to the images. Here's the text associated with each color in my workflow:
Code:
        Red Label = "To Be Worked",
        Yellow Label = "Work In Progress",
        Green Label = "Needs Further Review",
        Blue Label = "Not In a Published Collection - Complete",
        Purple Label = "In a Published Collection",
I use an import preset to assign a red label and to assign newly imported images to the one static collection used by the Workflow Smart Collections. I also assign other metadata at import like common keywords and partial captions.
 

rob211

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 17, 2014
Messages
1,123
Location
Walnut Creek, CA USA
Lightroom Experience
Advanced
Lightroom Version
I only want one catalogue.
I want the photos that the catalogue uses stored on an external hard drive, not my laptop.
I want to use folders, it is my understanding that if there is a loss of data collections are not saved.
I want to be careful to organize properly.
I want to be able to import all file formats including JPG.
I want to learn more about metadata between the different adobe products.
I want to utilize metadata correctly.

I am working in Bridge CC to add metadata and I did more work to organize photos on a hard drive dedicated to LR that I will use to add photos to the LR catalogue. Since the year is so important to metadata I set the folders up like Photos 2014, Photos 2015, Photos 2016. That way everything in the folder has the same copyright year. Within the folders I have categories like dogs, cats, plants etc. When I create the catalogue and add photos and folders to LR I don't anticipate any difficulties. I am concerned about subsequent additions.

I have a 3 terabyte hard drive that is full, another nearly full, definitely do not want that to connect to LR. I want to take organized photos from these two drives and add to the hard drive dedicated to LR. I know I can set up LR to not duplicate photos. Love that. As I add photos to the dedicated hard drive with metadata than connect to LR will it only add new photos or will it also include folders. Will it duplicate folders? Ignore folders? Or, will LR understand to add new photos to the folders in LR that share the same name as the folders that are on the hard drive? Or do I need to make subsequent additions of photos separate from folders? Than put them in related folders after they are added to LR? I am assuming once they are in LR I can add them or place them in the folders I choose. Is that correct?

On metadata, one thing I have read is once you put the photo in LR manage the metadata only in LR. But it does sound like I am okay to work on metadata in Bridge prior to adding to LR. What would be helpful to know about organization, folders and metadata prior to creating my next catalogue?

Thanks

Terri

One catalog is good.
Storing images on external is fine.
Folders? as Cletus said, not so good for organizing.
If you import JPEG and RAW pairs, do some research on that. I'd suggest treating them as separate files when starting out.

Metadata is shared between Adobe products but if you change say a caption or keyword in one application you need the other to know about it. Bridge reads the metadata in the files when it browses them. Lr reads the metadata in files when it imports or synchronizes. Bridge always writes metadata to files; Lr only does so if either you change the setting in its prefs to do so, or you manually save the metadata to file. Without writing it to the file the other applications (including non-Adobe ones) won't have anything to see.

Organizationally, try not to be redundant. Eg, put 2016 and 2015 in a folder called "photos"; adding that word on each folder may be redundant. Categories like dogs, cats and plants are inappropriate for folders in most situations. As opposed to collections, or even better, keywords. That's because a photo can only be in one folder. But in many collections, or have many keywords. So you CANNOT properly organize a photo of a cat chasing a dog 'round your prized orchid. You'd need to make a copy to put in each of three folders. But you could keyword it ONCE with "cat, dog, orchid" (or better: pets>dog, pets>cat, and plants>flowers>orchid). Or put ONE photo into three such collections.

The whole point of buying Lr is to use such features like keywords, captions, collections, filters, smart collections, etc. If you wanted to just organize by folders you could do that with the Finder, but spend hours deciding which folder the dog-chasing-cat-around-orchid when into, and hoping you remembered.

When you import Lr will ignore duplicates by default (assuming of course those other images are already imported). It also has very sophisticated means of importing into folders. Most of us use dated folders, as you do. It would by default put them in folders by day-month-year or whatever date format you wanna use, which corresponds to what date it finds in the photo. It can even add copyright and contact info when it imports. You can also direct it to import to a certain folder; it's very flexible. It can pretty much do any of the scenarios you describe (and add or copy, BTW).

And once in Lr, use Lr to move them around. Very easy; drag and drop.

I'd use Lr, not Bridge, in your scenario (Bridge is good for many things, but you haven't described any reason why it's helping you). Everything you wanna do will be more easily done in Lr. You're making more work for yourself by using it in this way.

I'd suggest any of the tutorials listed hereabouts. Then do a small catalog as a test, and see how it works.
 

Spencer

New Member
Joined
Jun 23, 2016
Messages
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Thank you to both of you. I am still learning. I will have to look into the book "workflow smart collections". The only reason I am still in Bridge is I already have photos that go back to 2006. Some of those are only available as a JPG. I did not start shooting raw until 2012. As I learned more about raw that is all I shoot. I only shoot JPG by accident. I let someone else use my camera and they set it for jpg. This does not happen often because I generally do not allow others to use my camera. That said some of the photos I want to use are in the JPG format. I do want to add those.

Before I ever considered LR I already had close to two 3 terabyte drives worth of photos. Unfortunately they are not organized as well as I would like. So I purchased a third drive so I could move photos to that and allow the third drive to only have photos on it that would be available to LR.

*One thing I heard is if I have a mess on my drive and load to LR I will have a mess on LR. Trying to avoid that.

*The other thing I heard is LR will accept metadata, XMP from Bridge but once a file is in LR only LR should be used to add or change metadata. It sounded like confusion would result from going back and forth.

*It also sounded like add, which is what I do from the hard drive is not quite the same as import from the camera card. For me the difference is dates. On my hard drive I had them organized by category not date. So if I add them that way, trying to do the copyright is going to end up with me wanting pull my hair out. I am trying to avoid this.

*I do want LR to write metadata to files. Like you said this is not automatic. I have to change it in preferences. I would not say I am clear on
what "synchronizes" does or how it is used.

On my first import/add from the hard drive that is what I ran into. Before I put the photos online I want the correct copyright info on them. It is really hard to do that when the years and file formats vary. So I am trying to get the copyright info on the files from the drive prior to creating the catalog. I can add keywords in LR. Since I have not yet imported from my camera to LR I don't really know how LR handles that. But I love the thought that I can import from the camera via LR, as long as I don't overlap at the end of the year they will be the same year. It seems that it should be fairly easy to set the copyright year. Than from LR I can save them to the dedicated hard drive. I will also have a 2nd drive to back up the actual images being used on LR. And I have another drive to backup the catalog and computer.

This may be paranoid but I have had to do data retrieval twice. Caused by power failures, due to storms and electrical issues. Computers fried. I felt like data retrieval caused some losses and what organization existed prior to data loss was scrambled. It was not clean. I have spent a long time trying to clean this all up. I don't want to put a mess on LR.

I am using bridge to organize these older photos. By year, by file format and somewhat by category. It feels really intimidating to try to do this on LR due to a lack of familiarity. It means adding the mess and trying to navigate through it. I felt like I very quickly ran into organization and
metadata problems on my first attempt to create a catalogue. Which is why I deleted my first catalogue and returned to Bridge to do the first part of organization. Maybe you are correct. I currently have enough photos organized by year to crate a new catalogue. Maybe I need to just create the new catalogue and gain familiarity and confidence. This may help me to better understand what you guys are talking about.

I don't feel ready to hand over 3 terabytes or more to LR. I need to do this little by little so I can feel comfortable with it. In case I need to delete and start over again. Plus I have files that I do not plan to add to LR. At least not at this time. I also have documents on the hard drive that I do not want to include in LR.

Maybe this helps clarify my hesitancy and the nature of my questions.

How do you use bold text on these pages?

Thanks for your feed back.

Terri
 
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The only reason I am still in Bridge is I already have photos that go back to 2006. Some of those are only available as a JPG. I did not start shooting raw until 2012. As I learned more about raw that is all I shoot. I only shoot JPG by accident
That is not a reason to use Bridge. LR accepts most file types. Some people even catalog their Exported JPEGs. If you have chosen LR as you tool for image organization. It should be your only tool for image organization LR replaces Bridge/ACR functionality in an a Client Suite Type workflow. I have a mixture of image file types in my LR catalog. Some are JPEG, some TIFF, and there's at least three different camera RAW proprietary formats. Remember LR is your chosen image organization tool. Bridge is an app the "bridges" between an inadequate filesystem image organization and Photoshop.
I don't feel ready to hand over 3 terabytes or more to LR.
You don't have to do all 3 TB at once, just the images that you need to use next. I've got some ancient images stored on an EHD that I still haven't put in my master catalog. I haven't needed these images in 10 years and many, I'm sure are due to be discarded when I get to the task. I did import these images "as is" into a different catalog just so I can use LR's tools to find an image if I need one. These have no real organization, there are no collections, and no keywords. just the shooting metadata (if it was not stripped away). To find an image in this "legacy" catalog, I'll need to do a visual scan of the folder (in LR of course).

Importing offers you three options:
  • Copy — intended for camera cards and other removable media. Copies the original from its source location to a destination folder. It is the path to the destination folder that gets stored in the LR catalog.
  • Add — intended for images already on the disk drive and a permanent part of the filesystem. LR leaves the original in place and records the current path in the LR catalog file.
  • Move— intended for images already on the disk drive and a permanent part of the filesystem. LR moves the original from its source location to a destination folder. It is the path to the destination folder that gets stored in the LR catalog. This can be useful if you are trying to consolidate cataloged images into one place AS you import. You can probably do a better job of consolidation using the organization tools in LR AFTER you have these images cataloged. If using the LR Folder panel yodrag images from one folder to another, you Move these images AND update the path stored in the LR catalog.

If you have a "mess" on your hard drive now, this is OK. LR is an image organizing tool and the one to use to organize your images. You may want to consolidate these images into a tidy physical location, BUT LR does not need an organized file system to function properly. For now, I recommend ignoring the filesystem completely It is not important to LR. You can move images around later. My images are physically organized in three groups:
  • Current images — Images that are generally less than 3 months old. These are the one that I actively work and need for the masters to be located on the fastest internal drive.
  • Non Current Images — Images that are generally older than 3 months. These are archived on a EHD AND still in my master LR catalog. Post processing on these is mostly complete and the original files are only used for making new prints or a new Publish derivative.
  • Unorganized images — These are legacy images that I have not added to the master catalog and organized (yet). I keep them in a separate catalog and on a separated EHD
 
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