I am about to launch my photographic collection into Lightroom but it is something I want to do correctly,and only once.

I have a collection of several thousand images, presently foldered in Windows, by brand and model of camera. Most are my own shots but there are some collected from relatives who may have attended the same event. Inclusive of antiquated cameras and phone efforts the photos are not of great quality but are valued none the less, in that they record important events. There are also many scans of slides from mid 1960's of course, without metadata.I am inclined to introduce the same folders into Lightroom with sub-folders being "Trip A" "Trip B", and General (these are non trip photos).

My query is what should exist between those folders at the highest level and keywords at the lowest. Am I correct to think that Collections are what I need and that it is a heading and the subset is the answer. Let me example that lest I confuse everyone. The Collection title may be Country and the subset answer may be Aus, NZ, USA or whatever. Should Collections be confined to aspects/conditions that must exist in every photo? The location as earlier illustrated or perhaps Style to which the subset would be panorama, portrait. Portrait would of course have subsets of head only, head and shoulders, waist up, full body. I reckon keywords can take care of events such as Birthday, Christmas or location specific name.

I am currently using a Nikon D5100, shooting jpg and RAW. Hopefully there is now a bit better photographic quality and I will use Lightroom on the better RAW's but just pass the the jpg's through when I cannot process them to any better quality.

Have I exhibited a sufficient grasp of LR structure or have I missed significant aspects? Ant advice appreciated.

Thanks Huon


2 Answers 2


Collections are an alternate way to organize (and far superior in my opinion).They are not required. Collections are created independent of where an image is located, and can be created by physically dragging photos into a collection manually, or can be created via metadata, such as Camera Maker, Date, Lens type, etc.

I recommend you keep your existing structure, at least until you decide how you wish to organize in Lightroom. Lightroom does not care where your images are, they can be managed regardless. If you wish to carefully organize and name your folders, you can happily do that in Lightroom. If you wish to put all your images in one giant folder, and tag the images in some other fashion, Lightroom is just as delighted to help you. You can later try out Collections, see which method works for you.

An important consideration is that data provided to you the user via folder names does not exist within the image or Lightroom catalog. In other words, if you have an image in a folder called 2015>Leica>Beach>Daughter>, if you export the image to Flickr, there will be no information about Beach or Daughter in the image. (Date and Camera maker will probably be there from the camera itself)

However, if you use Tags within Lightroom, this data is embedded within the photo (if you choose) and this same data can be used to create Collections, which is an alternative way to organize in Lightroom. Smart Collections are those that organize themselves based on Rules you can easily create. For example, you may wish to create a Smart Collection for all images taken with your Leica, etc.

Personally, I import all my images into dated folders, automatically created by Lightroom. Organization beyond date is done via Collections and Smart Collections. Any events or subjects I wish to view are done via collections. Since I often associate events with dates, I use both to find photos (I remember that I went to the beach in June, etc). I create the tags on import to make it simple.


You do not have to create Collections in LR. You can continue using your folder structure if you wish. Collections are not necessary but they can help a lot. You can create a collection on any basis you want - person on a foto, color style, location, the fotos you like most, the fotos you want to print etc. And one foto can be in more than one Collection, e.g. in "BlackNWhie", "Family", "1980ies".


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