Lightroom Organizing Disaster...Need Suggestions

nerwin

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So the last few days I have been spending most of my time organizing photos inside of Lightroom because it starting to become a mess.

When I first starting using Lightroom, I had no idea what I was doing. I created catalog for each year but as time went on I always found myself wanted to look at a photo I took last year or a couple years before so I'd have to go load up that catalog and then I'd forget and start importing 2015 photos into a 2011 catalog. Next time I'd go to import photos I'll then realize I was in the wrong catalog and already have forgot about the photos I imported a week ago and never moved those photos to the right catalog.

So instead of having a catalog for each year, I just made one master catalog and imported the other catalogs into this new master catalog and made a folder for each year and once I sorted out each year, I then made monthly subfolders for each year and sorted all the photos out. Thankfully, I was smart enough when I imported photos I used a date naming theme for the folders like this "2015-04-16-subject or shoot" so it wasn't TOO hard to sort everything out.

Now I have a structure like this:

2013
2014
2015
- 01 Jan
- 02 Feb
- 03 March

Etc...

Then I went through and renamed all the folders that contained the photos in each month. The problem I'm having is say for example I take several shots of my cat throughout the month of April, should I create a separate folder even if it's just one photo? Or should I just dump them into one folder like "Cat Photos" or something?

I took the folder structure idea from a Peter Krogh seminar since he's a "master" at Lightroom, but he also suggested making another organization structure using the keywords feature in Lightroom, so there I was adding keywords to 10,000 photos..sometimes one by one and it started to look like this...

keywords.JPG


This was only when I processed half of my photos...when I was nearly done..it was a complete mess. It took me longer to find a group of photos going through the keyword method that Peter Krogh recommends than just going to the folders and clicking on the year and month. It was a bit overwhelming for me..while that method may work for Peter..I don't think it did for me. So I ended up removing all keywords and now have a clean slate.

He also recommends adding location data to all the photos...so there I was again adding location data to all the photos which was brutal and I only got through maybe half of my photos. I understand why HE uses it because he travels A LOT but I don't travel that much. A lot of photos I take are around where I live. Do I really need location data for a few pictures I took down the road from where I live? What about when I go out for a drive and stop and take pictures on the way? I'm not going to exactly remember what town I was in when I took those particular photos. If you don't add a sub location to the metadata, it will show up under the metadata search as "unknown sublocation". So then, I had to go and add sublocations like "Home" or "Blah Blah Restaurant" or "55 Main St"...something like that. It's like, do I really need to add location to a picture of a computer part I took for my blog? I don't think it's useful.

So...I removed all the location data and I now have a complete clean slate to work from. No keywords and no location data.

I don't know what to do, so I'm asking you guys to give me some suggestions on what I could do. Also, what kind of organization system do you use in Lightroom?
 
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wow
stop taking pictures of your cat.

If you do photoshoots then it makes sense for all the metadata. include the customer and stuff. Then you can more easily refer to it.

personally
I have a separate Catalog for Photoshoots
then my own personal catalog.

you just have to remember to get FIRST look at which catalog you are in before doing anything.
Since I do few photoshoots and customer "stuff" I don't go in it very often. BUT I still check.

I also break my catalog by year otherwise it would get too big.
Those are the catalogs of the RAW files.
I have another OS directory of the processed JPEGs. BUt I delete alot of those after I upload them to Flickr or something.

You have to adjust your storing to the way YOU want to store them instead of someone elses. You can break it down by catagory catalogs if you want. As long as you know f you have cross-categories that you do it one way or another AND you have to check which catalog you are in first before importing.

I guess that was your main problem. You were not checking which catalog you were in first before doing anything. With more than 1 catalog, that will cause the most problems.
 
wow
stop taking pictures of your cat.

If you do photoshoots then it makes sense for all the metadata. include the customer and stuff. Then you can more easily refer to it.

personally
I have a separate Catalog for Photoshoots
then my own personal catalog.

you just have to remember to get FIRST look at which catalog you are in before doing anything.
Since I do few photoshoots and customer "stuff" I don't go in it very often. BUT I still check.

I also break my catalog by year otherwise it would get too big.
Those are the catalogs of the RAW files.
I have another OS directory of the processed JPEGs. BUt I delete alot of those after I upload them to Flickr or something.

You have to adjust your storing to the way YOU want to store them instead of someone elses. You can break it down by catagory catalogs if you want. As long as you know f you have cross-categories that you do it one way or another AND you have to check which catalog you are in first before importing.

I guess that was your main problem. You were not checking which catalog you were in first before doing anything. With more than 1 catalog, that will cause the most problems.

But my cat is too photogenic to not take pictures of lol.

I'm not worried about space right now, I have several terabytes to play with. So I can dump them all into one which makes it a heck of alot easier to manage for me.

I even imported a ton house renovation project photos I've took into Lightroom and I'm not sure if there is a point in having these in Lightroom as I don't do any kind of processing to them, I should just export them as Jpegs and delete the raw files and move them in a folder outside of Lightroom. I mean they are photos that I don't need to share online or be printed, they are simply for documentation of the work we have done and for reference.

I'm glad I'm trying to figure this out now and not when I have 50,000 photos haha.
 
Most Lightroom experts recommend organize all of your image files in a single catalog.
LR's Library module is a database manager, not a browser.
Keywording image files makes a database manager work.
You can make keyword templates in LR.

The DAM Book: Digital Asset Management for Photographers
 
Most Lightroom experts recommend organize all of your image files in a single catalog.
LR's Library module is a database manager, not a browser.
Keywording image files makes a database manager work.
You can make keyword templates in LR.

The DAM Book: Digital Asset Management for Photographers

I didn't mind creating keywords for events I shoot because I could easily select 100 photos I took at a car show or something and just drag in drop like how Peter recommended. That was fine to me, but other issue is if I was to take 50 photos in my backyard of several different subjects and import them into Lightroom, I might have macro of a bug, a plane flying overhead, a bird, etc. So then I'd have to add keywords to each photo because they are different subjects. Its extremely overwhelming for me.

Before I would just create a folder like this: "2015-12-21-backyard" and import all the photos in there and that would be it.
 
If you copied all your files and foldes to say a folder called Nerwin, and then emptied your "my pictures"folder, removed everything from lightroom and stated again with the import and copy command and select "my pictures" as the location, lohtroom will import and make folders dated, year, month,day. Once that is done you can rename folders inside of lightroom. Example lightroom calls it 2015-04-21 you can rename it with date and then cat, bug, macro afterwards.

In library then in grid mode you can select as many photos as you want and keyword selected ones, not one by one
 
This is what my folder structure looks like inside of Lightroom right now.

lrfolder.JPG
 
Always seems like that small end of year organising project takes on a life of its own.

I keep just a date structure for where the images are. One thing I found is that I have to put at least one photo in the Year Folder (I just take any photo and add _base to the name and put that in the Year Folder. Then when I import using LR I have it make a yyyy-mm-dd folder where the shots from that day go (and at the same time LR adds yyyymmdd in front of the file name, i.e.: 20141121_DRB3258.NEF). I started using this naming because I also mixed up my images when I first started using LR and had a hard time locating them again. When I Export then I add a suffix to the file name, like _cat_x640b (that tells me it is a cat photo at 640 pixels on the long side and b for me is 75% quality).

If I just look at my Folders I cannot tell what photos are in each. But if someone asks for a birthday photo or something where you know the date then I just go by date. If someone asks for a cat photo then I search for cat - I would usually select a year and then all the cat photos for that year, or select the base RAW directory and that would search for cat in all years.

My Collections folders look more like your file folders - this is where I have things like Car Show (all car show photos are in that collection). If I wanted a specific car show then I would search for it and then go to that date folder. I try to use Collections for photos that span multiple dates and want to have together in one spot.

I do not fully Keyword all photos, usually only those that get a star or general Keywords at Import. If I do a search then that keeps down the number of photos and if I want to see more then it is easy to know what folder to go to as the photo I found has the date in the name. I also add a Title and Caption to most exported photos as that data shows up in Flickr and the Title information is in one of the photo viewers I use.

This is my LR folder layout. I was sceptical of having a folder for every day, but it has worked so far for me and saved me at least a few times when I moved files around and had to locate them again.
LR folder structure db.png
 
Well it is winter here and I don't shoot much during winter so I figured it's a good time to figure out my lightroom situation. By going through everything I was able to get rid of some photos that I no longer needed to keep or just junk photos.

I had to delete about all the photos in my 2008 folder because I must have been stupid and imported all the cropped 700px jpegs instead of the original res photos and deleted the original photos. It's alright though, didn't need the photos anyways. But what the heck was a I thinking then? hahaha.
 
I use one catalog only. Folders are by year and location on each year. It gets a little messy when I change locations and don't switch memory cards.
 


I really like this guy's way of organizing. Its very simple but yet works powerfully. I still think I'd have separate folder for each month rather than one long list, but that's just me.
 
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OK, watched the video. I agree with his use of Smart Collections. That is similar to what I do. But in the first part where he talks about the initial Folder setup, I had tried that. In the end I found that when I tried to import and later move things to an actual physical Folder location on the disc, I was just to lazy as it was too much extra time on the workflow. I think it also adds more risk as you can drop things in the wrong spot, I just want to import one time and never move those files again. Also, what does he do if he has both the models in one photo, which Folder does he put that shot in. I ran into things like that and it slowed me down, also just trying to come up with a Folder name is extra time when I want to process photos. Keywords can be changed around very quickly and your not waiting for files to be moved around to different physical folder locations.

So basically I am just not in agreement with trying to make the Folder section work like a File Cabinet, for me that area is just the Safe and I then want to use the LR database tools to get to my photos. I could just put every photo in one Directory, but as LR has the option to show photos in all subdirectories then I have it make the daily subdirectories upon import and then search for a photo either from the year folder or the parent RAW folder (that includes all years). The daily subdirectories just make it easy to take a look in each one and not have to scroll very far for any one photo. I often have three or more very different events in one day and many events that start in the evening go over to the next day and a different folder, this is no problem as the specific events are together in a Collection or it may just need a specific keyword to pull them together with some filtering.

I just use Keywords for things like Self Portraits, Mom and Mom Birthday and use Collections for things like Car Shows (of course Car Show is also a Keyword and the name of the particular car show would go under that Keyword).

As all my photos have the date added, I can go to the Collection and find a photo based on an event name and just by looking at a photo name I know the date and that can lead me directly to the Folder where all the shots are from the same day as the one I am looking at in the Collection. Having the date added to the file name is twofold, first is to never duplicate a file name and second is to make it easy to locate a photo that was moved outside of LR (fixing the dreaded ! message).

Also, when I Export photos, my default directory is Developed/Year and then subdirectory for each client or event. I have LR make that directory or use it if it already exists. This gives me a directory structure outside of LR that is similar to your current Folder setup and in some cases I will look for a photo there and as the file name includes the date I know right where to look for the original photos in LR.
 
My head hurts. This is the part of photography they never mentioned, hahaha. I have no idea what I'm going to do..there is just so many ways.
 
OK, watched the video. I agree with his use of Smart Collections. That is similar to what I do. But in the first part where he talks about the initial Folder setup, I had tried that. In the end I found that when I tried to import and later move things to an actual physical Folder location on the disc, I was just to lazy as it was too much extra time on the workflow. I think it also adds more risk as you can drop things in the wrong spot, I just want to import one time and never move those files again. Also, what does he do if he has both the models in one photo, which Folder does he put that shot in. I ran into things like that and it slowed me down, also just trying to come up with a Folder name is extra time when I want to process photos. Keywords can be changed around very quickly and your not waiting for files to be moved around to different physical folder locations.

So basically I am just not in agreement with trying to make the Folder section work like a File Cabinet, for me that area is just the Safe and I then want to use the LR database tools to get to my photos. I could just put every photo in one Directory, but as LR has the option to show photos in all subdirectories then I have it make the daily subdirectories upon import and then search for a photo either from the year folder or the parent RAW folder (that includes all years). The daily subdirectories just make it easy to take a look in each one and not have to scroll very far for any one photo. I often have three or more very different events in one day and many events that start in the evening go over to the next day and a different folder, this is no problem as the specific events are together in a Collection or it may just need a specific keyword to pull them together with some filtering.

I just use Keywords for things like Self Portraits, Mom and Mom Birthday and use Collections for things like Car Shows (of course Car Show is also a Keyword and the name of the particular car show would go under that Keyword).

As all my photos have the date added, I can go to the Collection and find a photo based on an event name and just by looking at a photo name I know the date and that can lead me directly to the Folder where all the shots are from the same day as the one I am looking at in the Collection. Having the date added to the file name is twofold, first is to never duplicate a file name and second is to make it easy to locate a photo that was moved outside of LR (fixing the dreaded ! message).

Also, when I Export photos, my default directory is Developed/Year and then subdirectory for each client or event. I have LR make that directory or use it if it already exists. This gives me a directory structure outside of LR that is similar to your current Folder setup and in some cases I will look for a photo there and as the file name includes the date I know right where to look for the original photos in LR.

Do you browse by keywords or do you use it just strictly for searching and or collections?
 

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