You're not missing an option and doing it about as efficiently as the current setup will allow.
There is one thing that might make it a little easier if you're importing several groups of images and you want to assign them all to the same collection.
First set the collection to be the target collection by right-clicking it.
Then, when you import you press Command+a to select all in the Previous Import collection and then press B to add the images to the target collection.
It may be easier than dragging.
I'm attempting to move my workflow from Aperture to Lightroom 5.5. One of my primary organization tools is Aperture Projects which are analogous to Lightroom Collections. The Aperture import module allows you to quite easily specify the Project to assign photos to, and they're automatically added as they're imported.
You can assign a keyword on import, and for several reasons, I think this is a better plan than assigning a photo to a collection on import. Keywords can stay with the photo when you export and share the photo, but collection information cannot.
I suppose I could add a keyword to the photos then setup a smart collection for all photos with that keyword, but that seems like the long way around for what *should* be a simple task...
As you can tell, Lightroom was designed to use keywords for this purpose, not collections. If you have assigned a keyword, there is NO need to create a smart collection for that single keyword, that's a terrible duplication of effort. You simply tell Lightroom to find all photos with that keyword ... you point at the keyword in the Keyword List panel, and an arrow will appear at the far right, when you click on this arrow, you will call up all photos with that keyword. This is a built in function of Lightroom, you don't need to do work to replicate the function with a smart collection.
So, I state my opinion that collections are the wrong tool for this purpose, that keywords are a much better tool, that involves a lot less effort.
Am I just missing an option somewhere?
As David Rogers said - nope. If you prefer using regular collections/sets as a primary means of organization (instead of how dj-paige does it, and recommends doing it - exclusively via metadata..), then you have to do such organization after importing, or use a plugin for importing, which I wouldn't recommend if your only motivation is having in a preferred collection upon import.
PS - my primary means of organization is disk folders, but I use metadata too as a "secondary" means of organization, for lack of a better way to put it. I rarely use regular collections for anything other than editing photos rounded up via lib-filter or smart-collection (so they don't disappear when I edit them!). Not recommending my way, so much as affirming: more than one way to do things..
Good point, Rob. I always recommend keywords as the primary method of organization, but for the original poster, I would recommend folders would be a better tool than collections in this case, given his description. As with keywords, folders would require less work to achieve the desired goal than creating the collections, as you could automatically create the folder needed at import if such folder isn't already present in the operating system — and if the photos are coming from Aperture, I think they wind up in folders, don't they?. So, in my order of preference for this task, I would still say keywords would be my #1 choice, folders are my #2 choice and collections are dead last at #3.
if the photos are coming from Aperture, I think they wind up in folders, don't they?
I've only a little experience with Aperture, but I think it has a "managed" and non-managed folder scheme, if I remember correctly - in one case, you pick the folders, in the other: Aperture picks them, or something like that.
Anyway John Beardsworth wrote an article about it which may be worth a read:
There is also a migration plugin which may be worth looking into - dunno the URL.
(and I think Adobe is also working on a plugin or app for migrating, so it may be worth holding off for a while).