In the last post, we learned how to automatically place photos into dated folders, but if you need to find photos outside of Lightroom, you may want to store your photos in a year/shoot-named hierarchy instead. This still meets the best practice principles described in the How to organize your photos post. Here’s an example of a year/shoot folder structure:
First, in the Destination panel, look for the parent folder that contains all of your photos. In the “Where should you store your photos?” post, we suggested calling it something like Lightroom Photos.
Inside that Lightroom Photos folder, I’d recommend you have a folder per year. This makes it easy to split your photo archive over multiple drives, or archive some photos offline, as you outgrow your hard drives. For most of the year, this folder will already exist, but it’s January and you may not have a 2017 folder yet. If not, right-click on your Lightroom Photos folder and select Create New Folder (or create it in Windows Explorer/Finder and then select it in the Destination panel, if that’s more comfortable for you).
Select this year’s folder so that it’s highlighted in white. In the Organize pop-up at the top of the Destination panel, select Into one folder. This places the photos into the selected/highlighted year folder. This is a great choice for random photos that don’t need their own shoot subfolder.
But let’s go one stage further. Let’s create a new subfolder to hold the photos you’re importing, because they’re from a specific shoot. At the top of the Destination panel, check the Into Subfolder checkbox, and then enter a name for the shoot. In this example, we’ll call it Marwell Zoo, but you can add the date if you prefer.
Before you click Import, remember to double check that the photos are landing in the right place. Remember we said that Lightroom previews any new folders in italic? This is a useful double check to ensure that you have the right folder selected.
We’ll come back to reorganizing existing photos, but first, we need to learn how to use collections to group photos by topic without duplicating them on the hard drive.