14 Replies Latest reply on Jun 24, 2016 10:39 AM by Abambo

    Help explain Collections and Folders

    photosavage

      I'm just starting lightroom. I want to start with a good organizational system.

      It sounds like I make Collections for huge events, like 2015, for example.

      And then add my folders with subfolders to those Collections?

      Am I understanding the right flow here?

        • 1. Re: Help explain Collections and Folders
          robgendreau Level 3

          It's a flexible system, but it helps to focus on what you need to do with photos.

           

          Folders are what exist out in your filesystem, independent of Lr. Lr just points to them. So you might wanna use a folder name, or store things there, depending on your uses of those photos OUTSIDE of Lr. I have, eg, labeled folders with client names, because I'd have to eventually copy the whole to a drive for that client. Other's just use a date-based system. The important thing is that the folder names and what's in them make sense in both the filesystem and in Lr.

           

          Also, folders have certain rules. The one you need to remember is one folder per image. In other words, an image can only be in one folder at a time. And in Lr you can't copy images to different folders.

           

          Collections, OTOH, do NOT exist in the filesystem. You will not see them outside of Lr. They are only in Lr.

           

          Collection rules are more flexible than folders: an image can be "in" many collections at once. It cannot be in a collection SET; only collections can be in collection sets. Another way of looking at collections is that they are like labels applied TO images, like the "mailboxes" in gmail.

           

          Both folders and collections are info applied to a photo. A file is never really "in" anything. A folder is part of a path, like C:/Pictures/2016/New Years or whatever. A collection is like a label or keyword. All can have hierarchies.

           

          Other tools to add info are keywords, labels, and all sorts of metadata. Hierarchical keywords operate pretty much just like collections in that you can apply a keyword to many photos, and a photo may have many keywords. A collection "mom" inside the collection set "family members" is functionally very similar to the keyword hierarchy "family members>mom." The difference is that keywords are more permanent: they can be stored IN the file itself, not just in Lr, so that other applications, online galleries, etc can see and use them.

           

          Knowing all this, you have to start thinking of how you use your photos and what info you need to associate with them, and where else you need to access that info. And how you find stuff, given those choices.

           

          The best advice I got was to use folders for the bare minimum of info, like just date shot. And to use collections for temporary stuff, like "to be developed," or "beach shots," or "panorama" or whatever. For permanent categorization, I use keywords, and write those to metadata. And I include people as a form of that.

           

          This way I never get many collections. And sort of ignore folders. And I never have to fret about issues like "does this shot of mom on our Hawaii vacation get put into "beaches" or "Hawaii" or "mom" or "vacations;" it just gets tagged with all of those, and maybe "sunset" and "closeup" and "surf" too. I can always find it by those criteria, and if I'm working on a "mom" slideshow I just set up a smart collection to find all the "mom" keywords, and maybe even sort by date or whatever.

          • 2. Re: Help explain Collections and Folders
            wobertc Adobe Community Professional

            I once saw it explained thus-

             

            You live in a "house"- that is your permanent address. That is the FOLDER where an image lives in your computer permanently.

             

            You belong to several "clubs" (Rotary, Photo, Chess, etc) and your name is "Listed" in those clubs, your home address can be found from the listing in the "club"- These are COLLECTIONS where your images can be listed. So the one image can be shown in several Collections. Collections only exit within the Lightroom catalog database- they are 'virtual' links to the original image files. (like playlists in iTunes)

            • 3. Re: Help explain Collections and Folders
              john beardsworth Adobe Community Professional & MVP

              Try to think about folders purely in terms of physical storage - where your photos are on your hard drives, avoiding duplication, being certain that they are all backed up, knowing you could reconstruct everything after a disaster. LR's date-based folders are fine for this.

               

              Then focus on using non-proprietary ways to describe or annotate the photos - captions, keywords, job (eg "2014 summer holiday"), the country/state/city/location fields. Within LR, you can use this metadata to find pictures, but longer term if you switch to another program, all this IPTC work will be transportable.

               

              Collections aren't for describing photos - they're for grouping them when you need them. So I wouldn't create sets of collections in anticipation of needing those groups of pictures. Instead, create them when you need to gather a bunch of pictures and try to take as much advantage as possible of existing work - eg don't create a dumb collection of all holiday photos in Italy, but create a smart collection of Job/Contains/Holiday and Country/Contains/Italy. You might not need a huge number of collections, but think of them as a great way to gather photos you need.

              • 4. Re: Help explain Collections and Folders
                dj_paige Level 9

                It sounds like I make Collections for huge events, like 2015, for example.

                And then add my folders with subfolders to those Collections?

                Am I understanding the right flow here?

                As others have explained, you use keywords as your primary organizing tool. An event can be a keyword, an element of the photo (mountain, skyscraper, bird) can be a keyword, a person in the photo can be a keyword, anything that describes the photo can be a keyword. Additional text can go into other fields, like captions.

                 

                Do not make keywords (or collections) to describe calendar time periods, like 2015, or January 2015, because when you want photos from a particular time frame, you can do this easily using the filter bar, you don't need to specifically create a 2015 keyword or collection.

                • 5. Re: Help explain Collections and Folders
                  Just Shoot Me Adobe Community Professional

                  Simplest explanation is Folders are storage locations on your hard drive for files. Those folders can be anywhere on any drive connected to your computer.

                   

                  Collections in LR are a Grouping of images that can be from one folder/subfolder on your drives or from multiple folders/subfolders on your drives.

                   

                  One image can be in multiple collection, or just one, or in no collection at all. That is totally up to you.

                   

                  They are 2 totally different things.

                  • 6. Re: Help explain Collections and Folders
                    photosavage Level 1

                    Thanks so much everyone. This is a huge help!!

                    • 7. Re: Help explain Collections and Folders
                      Abambo Adobe Community Professional

                      Look at Julieanne Kost's Blog and the Adobe tutorials.

                       

                      In short: You store your pictures in folders, but organize some of those pictures in collections to have a better overview.

                       

                      Eg: Have a collection "dogs" with all your dog pictures.

                       

                      You can even use "smart collections" to build a collection on a specific keyword. I do that with topics I photograph. I tag them with keywords (for people it's now even easier with the face recognition), and when I need to send over a theme or event, I do a smart collection to get all my pictures searched for that keyword.

                      • 8. Re: Help explain Collections and Folders
                        JSkolnick

                        guys

                         

                        I believe this is the important question:

                         

                        you have folders on your computer or external drive consisting of the photos you shot (maybe or usually raw)

                         

                        you import them into lightroom in order to view and process - you then put the photos that you worked on in a collection in lightroom

                         

                        you then export the photos that you want to save back to your computer or external drive as processed jpegs...

                         

                        you do this for years and you have many many processed photos in these collections and boom your computer dies and you have to load lightroom on another computer. this new lightroom does not have the photos in collections and the edits that were done . so you (if you need to go back to the photos and edit more or deal with the photo before the exported jpeg - you have to re edit all the photos.......

                         

                        So my question is how do you save the "edited" versions of the photos ie the lightroom collection files so that they can be "opened" on another computer (at the edited state they were when the computer died) without having to re edit 147,000 pictures??

                         

                        and then  the real real question is -- how can you have  two different computers able to access those files so that when they open their lightroom they both can see the same collections so that if one computer fails the other is able to keep going??

                         

                        thanks

                        • 9. Re: Help explain Collections and Folders
                          dj_paige Level 9

                          You need to have backups of your photos and a backup of your catalog file. These backups must be on a different physical disk than the originals. You must make the backups on a regular basis, using some automated procedure.

                           

                          If you have those backups, and your computer with the working copies dies, you put the backups on the new computer in the same location they were in on the old computer, and you've got all of your edits and collections.

                          and then  the real real question is -- how can you have  two different computers able to access those files so that when they open their lightroom they both can see the same collections so that if one computer fails the other is able to keep going??

                          I have to object to the phrasing of this question. You want backups of everything (catalog file and photos) as I explained above. You do NOT want to use those backups for any purpose (like have a 2nd computer access them), these backups ought to sit on their own disk, untouched and unused, forever and ever, except in the unfortunate situation where your originals are no longer available for some reason.

                           

                          Backups should not be used as a way to allow you to view the photos from Lightroom on two different computers.

                           

                          The best way to view the photos from two different computers is to put catalog file and photos on an external HD and move the external HD from computer to computer. If you are going to do this, you must have another disk with backups.

                          • 10. Re: Help explain Collections and Folders
                            JSkolnick Level 1

                            Thanks for the help. In trying to put into practice the two different things we have been talking about and what I have done so far....

                             

                            I had to replace the main computer. I installed a network back up drive. this will be where I back up everything.  I put the old external drive where all the raw files etc were on the new computer. KEY was copying the LCAT file from old computer (it was saving locally to that computer) onto new computer, then of course the hassle of re-identifying the pics to the lightroom on the new computer but am working through it... lightroom opens and all the collections are there (awesome thanks to the lcat file) but as I said I have to re identify the folders etc etc -- a big hassle.

                             

                            For using two computers or put another way to be mobile and use a laptop sometimes and the main computer other times - The only way I can see to use the (lightroom) collection method rather than switch to photoshop and do it one photo at a time is to copy the lcat file every so often or when I want to use laptop or diff computer - do the work and export etc etc... but then save the lcat from that computer and copy to the previous computer and so on and so forth everytime a different computer or mobile device is used  and then I can move around do stuff on location or have someone else work from their computer (I assume the two computer license would allow this) .. it is all a big hassle does anyone know a better way to be more mobile and switch computers often - but keep all the edits up to date???

                             

                            Thanks

                             

                            Jay

                            • 11. Re: Help explain Collections and Folders
                              dj_paige Level 9

                              I had to replace the main computer. I installed a network back up drive. this will be where I back up everything. I put the old external drive where all the raw files etc were on the new computer. KEY was copying the LCAT file from old computer (it was saving locally to that computer) onto new computer, then of course the hassle of re-identifying the pics to the lightroom on the new computer but am working through it... lightroom opens and all the collections are there (awesome thanks to the lcat file) but as I said I have to re identify the folders etc etc -- a big hassle.

                              If you have the folders in a hierarchy under some parent folder, you only have to reconnect the parent folder in Lightroom and all folders under this parent are also connected.

                              The only way I can see to use the (lightroom) collection method rather than switch to photoshop and do it one photo at a time

                              The idea of Lightroom collections and photoshop as two solutions to the same problem makes no sense to me. I have no idea what you are trying to say.

                               

                              As I said before, the best way to move from one computer to another is to put the catalog file and all photos on an external HD and move the external HD back and forth between computers. Another idea is to create a small sub-catalog of your main catalog, copy it to the 2nd computer, do the work on the small sub-catalog on the 2nd computer, and then merge the small sub-catalog from the 2nd computer into the catalog on the first computer. If you want details on this, let us know. If you want the entire catalog available on both computers whenever you want, this is a problematic, and doesn't really work well, and has some real dangers. Some people use a cloud storage facility like DropBox, but you have to be very careful or you wind up with major problems.

                              • 12. Re: Help explain Collections and Folders
                                Abambo Adobe Community Professional

                                I use an external drive, store my cat file on and load that one in Lightroom on any computer where I do Lightroom editing. Works fine. On my (main) desktop, I import the Lightroom catalogue. The desktop PC gets backed-up on a NAS. Basically I have 3 copies of my recent work and 2 of my older.

                                 

                                What I still need to refine is putting a second NAS elsewhere, so that I can synchronize my NASes ower the net! Fireproof and burglar proof.

                                • 13. Re: Help explain Collections and Folders
                                  JSkolnick Level 1

                                  thanks - I think your method is what I am gravitating towards -- do you

                                  save the lcat file every day? or automatically save it locally and then

                                  copy it to the external?

                                   

                                  On Tue, Jun 21, 2016 at 12:26 PM, Feierwoon <forums_noreply@adobe.com>

                                  • 14. Re: Help explain Collections and Folders
                                    Abambo Adobe Community Professional

                                    I save my lcat file once a week...with the Lightroom backup. I backup my data including the Lightroom database each time when I change my data. My backup program can be launched automatically, but most of the time I launch it manually, when I'm done. It shuts down my PC when done...

                                     

                                    What is important, that you backup your data, before clearing your memory cards.

                                     

                                    My workflow in short: shoot - import on the mobile drive (mostly attached to the laptop) - work my pictures in LR - import the catalogue (with the pictures!) - eventually continue working the pictures on my desktop - backup - delete the pictures on the memory card.