21 Replies Latest reply on Sep 12, 2018 7:59 PM by John Waller

    New to LR trying to understand the basics

    peternelson Level 1

      I'm brand new to LightRoom and I'm trying to understand its organizational model.   There's a zillion tutorials out there but they each seem to address only parts of it and I'm trying to get the big picture.    I can also see on the web that many other people are confused, too.

       

      Catalogs.    Libraries.    Folders.    Collections.

       

      They all seem like words for containers.   If we were talking about books, you could have a collection of books, a catalog of books, a library of books or folder of books (say if you were a publisher and the folder had manuscripts or print-ready files).  But being in one wouldn't necessarily imply a hierarchy, although it could.  I.e., a library might have a collection of books, and those books might be in a catalog so there's a hierarchy:  Library hasa Collection, but also  Library hasa Catalog.   But a collection doesn't necessarily contain a catalog, or vise versa, although it could.  Conversely it could be disjoint -  books could be in one without being in any of these others.  I could have a library in my house which holds my books but they may not be catalogued, etc.

       

      So what exactly is the definition of each of these and what exactly is their relationship  to each other in LightRoom?

       

      Is there a hierarchy -  is one at the top and does it contain a bunch of the others and do each of those others contain a third kind, etc?

       

      Or are they all totally disjoint; an image can be in one but the other?

       

      Can individual folders, collections, catalogs and libraries be named?   For a given image in LightRoom how do I see which one (or two or three) of these things it's in?  And how do I put an image in one of these?    If I do an "import" what am I importing it into -  a catalog, a folder, a library or a collection, or more than one of the above? Can an image be in one without being in the others?

       

      I'm very confused about this but on the web I see I'm not the only one.

       

      Thanks in advance!!

        • 1. Re: New to LR trying to understand the basics
          dj_paige Level 10

          Catalogs — first, for beginners, do not use catalogs (plural), use one catalog (singular). And you have to use a catalog with Lightroom. The catalog is a database, it is not a container of your photos (although it contains your work). Import all of your photos into a single catalog, the photos are not actually in the catalog file, they remain on your hard disk, and then of course you do all of your work inside the catalog. Think of the catalog as your workspace, it's where you go to do everything in Lightroom and find all of your photos, and if you have only ONE catalog then it's like you don't even have to think about it.


          Folders — this is just a partial view of the folders on your disk, they are not separate folders within Lightroom that are different than the folders on your disk. Your photos should go in folders (maybe I should say HAVE TO go in folders), because your operating system requires it. The simplest thing is to use folders by capture date, this is a Lightroom default, it takes zero effort on your part. Other than capture date, do not use folders for organizing purposes. (Note: perhaps in the past you had used folders as organizing tools, and you have folders named "Trip to Boston" and "Birthday Party for Aunt Marge", fine, keep those as they are if you want, but new photos should go into folders by capture date — or alternatively when you import the existing photos into Lightroom you can ask Lightroom to put these photos in to folders by capture date and move them out of "Trip to Boston").

           

          Libraries — not a Lightroom word.

           

          Collections — An assembly of photos for some purpose, like to make a photobook, or to make a collage, or to make a slideshow. Photos can be members of as many collections as you want. The photos aren't actually in Lightroom, they're not in the collections, but the catalog (database) knows which photos have been assigned to Collection XYZ.

           

          AND YOU MISSED THE MOST IMPORTANT ORGANIZING TOOLS!!!!

           

          Keywords and other metadata — your photos should be assigned keywords and optionally other metadata like captions and titles and GPS locations and any other information that is useful to you. You need to assign keywords religiously to your photos. In the future, once this assignment of keywords and other metadata is assigned, you will do ALL (yes, ALL, as in 100%) of your searching for photos via these keywords and other metadata. You will not be looking in folders for your photos. You find them via keywords and other metadata.

           

          So, you import the photos into LR, this will either place them in certain folders or leave them in their existing folders depending on your choice by setting the proper options, you assign keywords and other metadata to your photos, you can optionally create collections for specific purposes, you edit the photos, and as needed you can print/export/upload the edited photos. When you search for specific photos, you search using keywords and other metadata and not in folders; and you also don't move photos from folder to folder for organizing purposes.

          • 2. Re: New to LR trying to understand the basics
            WobertC Adobe Community Professional

            You really need to read Victoria Bampton's  (free) "Lightroom Classic CC Quick Start eBook"

            Available from- https://www.lightroomqueen.com/blog/

             

            If you understand how 'Database' programs work then you should see a similarity with Lightroom-

            For my simple understanding- an example comparing LR to a "People" Address database-

             

            Lightroom Program  =  Microsoft Excel Program (the installed App or Executable)

            Catalog  =  Excel Spreadsheet   (a file you can copy, rename, re-locate)

            Library of Photos =  Data about people displayed in a spreadsheet   (Information about your data -Photos or People)

            Folders = Folders.  The folder structure on your hard-drives. (In Lightroom you only see Folders containing 'imported' photos!)

            Photo Files =  People & Address.   (Photos and People are NOT "in" the Catalog database. Photos are in a Folder, People live somewhere in the world)

            Collections =  Spreadsheet Report  (A "List" of selected  items you want to easily view together)

             

            And do some learning research-

            Lightroom Tutorials by Julieanne Kost

            https://laurashoe.com/2016/10/27/new-to-lightroom-an-introduction-to-lightroom/

            Adobe Photoshop Lightroom - YouTube

            • 3. Re: New to LR trying to understand the basics
              dj_paige Level 10

              I have to say I always find analogies comparing Lightroom to other systems of things unconvincing and off the mark. People see what they want to see in these analogies. It is common for people to have many Excel spreadsheets, and naturally there's nothing wrong with that, but using the analogy to allow many Lightroom catalogs is not the best approach for Lightroom, and in my opinion, a serious failure of the analogy.

              • 4. Re: New to LR trying to understand the basics
                peternelson Level 1

                Libraries — not a Lightroom word.

                 

                Then why does it say "Library Filter" across the top of my view?

                 

                So there's no such thing as a LR folder?   Just views of Windows file system folders?   If LR folders and Windows folders are 1:1 then I'm confused about why LR has them. 

                 

                I'm doing a slide show now of a recent trip to Greenland - on my NAS the folders are organized by camera -  Leica in this folder, Nikon in that folder, Samsung S9 in that folder, etc, but in LR I want them all to be in one "thing" for my slideshow.   So what thing would that be -  a collection?

                 

                (I assume LR uses copies and doesn't move or alter the original files?). 

                 

                I'll only be using LR for special projects, not as my main tool, so I don't need to organize all my photos, just the ones in that project. e.g., a slide show or book.

                 

                Thanks for any clarifications.

                • 5. Re: New to LR trying to understand the basics
                  JimHess Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                  I would strongly urge you to download and read that link that was provided previously in this thread. You obviously have no understanding about what Lightroom is all about, and without that understanding Lightroom isn't going to be of any value to you at all. Until you realize what Lightroom is and how it works, and how you can integrate it into your workflow, I think you are just wasting time. It's more than we can tackle trying to answer questions in the forum. You need to do some studying of excellent resources that have already been provided.

                  • 6. Re: New to LR trying to understand the basics
                    pn78204181

                    Unfortunately, although I do know database software - SQL, SQL-Server and SMO - I don't know anything about Excel.  I thought Excel was a spreadsheet and not DB software.

                     

                    I'll take a look at the book, but I'm really not trying to become an expert in LR because I already have my own ways of organizing my files and folders in the Windows File System and I use Photoshop CC for editing.    I'm just using LR for a couple of small projects - some slide shows and books, so I just want to get a conceptual overview.

                    • 7. Re: New to LR trying to understand the basics
                      kentdesign Adobe Community Professional

                      I partially agree with WobertC,

                      Victoria Bampton's  "Lightroom Classic CC Quick Start eBook" is great.

                      So are Victoria's paid books.

                      Another educational option is Laura Shoe's digital training:

                      https://laurashoe.com/

                      I suggest you check both out online because people learn in different ways and although both these Lightroom Gurus are great teachers you may learn better from one than the other.

                       

                      As far as analogies go, I have always taught people to think of Lightroom with a physical book library in mind.

                      The book library has a physical location where it keeps the books on shelves, and also a catalog of all the books, where they are located in the building, the author, the publishing info, and a quick summary of what is in the book.

                       

                      Photoshop Lightroom works in a similar way.

                       

                      You should make one catalog (for now at least, although many photographers only have one catalog even after they completely understand and use Lightroom)

                      The catalog is like the book library's catalog. It has the data about the photo, what camera, what lens, what settings for each image.

                       

                      Each module - library, develop, Map, Book, Slideshow, Print, and Web, are basically different work spaces to accomplish different tasks.

                      Library is where you get an overview of your images (like a light table with full view capabilities.

                      Develop is your darkroom, etc.

                       

                      Folders are where the images are located, like shelves in a book library - and although they are shown in your Lightroom Catalog, the image files themselves, like the books in a book library, can be on different drives, like the books could be on shelves in a different building.

                       

                      Collections are a way to group some images for various purposes

                       

                      In lightroom, you do not open, edit and save images, you import, edit,  and export.

                      Yes it is a database, however, more importantly Lightroom is a different and versatile way to work with images.

                       

                      Hope that helps - please do check out the two educator authors mentioned above. They are worth your time and you will save a lot of time and get into using Lightroom more efficiently and effectively !

                      • 8. Re: New to LR trying to understand the basics
                        JimHess Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                        Let me just give you a few examples of why I think you need to do a little reading. Unlike other photo editing programs, Lightroom does not "open" your images. Lightroom literally only "opens" a single file, and that is the Lightroom catalog, which is literally a database. Your images are records in a database, and all adjustments that you make to your images are stored in the database. No changes are ever applied to your images. That's just one simple example of how Lightroom differs from other programs. And until you understand how Lightroom works, you will be frustrated because it isn't going to work the way you expect it to. A fundamental understanding of the Lightroom workflow is essential to using the program effectively.

                        • 9. Re: New to LR trying to understand the basics
                          John Waller Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                          I'll take a look at the book, but I'm really not trying to become an expert in LR because I already have my own ways of organizing my files and folders in the Windows File System and I use Photoshop CC for editing.    I'm just using LR for a couple of small projects - some slide shows and books, so I just want to get a conceptual overview.

                          If that's the case, I'd suggest that Lightroom is not really the tool for what you want to do. It's a DAM and non-destructive photo editor rolled into one and has a learning curve which takes some commitment as you're discovering. Most people here have used Lightroom daily for years to get to grips with it.

                           

                          If you only want something to use as a secondary tool for side projects, there are other tools out there which you may find more intuitive and may fit into your existing primary workflow better.

                          • 10. Re: New to LR trying to understand the basics
                            WobertC Adobe Community Professional

                            I thought Excel was a spreadsheet and not DB software.

                            You are correct of course. MS-Access is the database program. ('Old Brain' syndrome!  MS-Access in 'Table' format)

                             

                            So in summary while agreeing with other replies-

                            You need to do some studying of excellent resources

                            • 11. Re: New to LR trying to understand the basics
                              dj_paige Level 10

                              peternelson  wrote

                               

                              Libraries — not a Lightroom word.

                               

                              Then why does it say "Library Filter" across the top of my view?

                              It says "Library" (singular). In fact, it says "Library Filter", not "Libraries", which is the name of a tool that allows you to find your photos in the catalog via any one of many different criteria.

                               

                              So there's no such thing as a LR folder?   Just views of Windows file system folders?   If LR folders and Windows folders are 1:1 then I'm confused about why LR has them.

                              But they are views ... Lightroom shows just the photos that have been imported, and not photos/files/folders that have not been imported. So Lightroom folders are not 1:1 with operating system folders in some cases; but any folder shown in Lightroom must be an operating system folder.

                               

                              I'm doing a slide show now of a recent trip to Greenland - on my NAS the folders are organized by camera -  Leica in this folder, Nikon in that folder, Samsung S9 in that folder, etc, but in LR I want them all to be in one "thing" for my slideshow.   So what thing would that be -  a collection?


                              That's what I would do. (Although I see little value in keeping photos from different cameras in different folders)

                               

                              (I assume LR uses copies and doesn't move or alter the original files?).

                               

                              Lightroom does not make copies for it's own use over and above the files that are on your disk. And it also never alters the image portion of your original photos. But really, stop assuming and guessing and read the book.

                              I'll only be using LR for special projects, not as my main tool, so I don't need to organize all my photos, just the ones in that project. e.g., a slide show or book.

                               

                              Again, I would not recommend this, I think this is a huge mistake, but they're your photos and your software and your money and your time climbing up the learning curve ... you can decide to do whatever you want.

                              • 12. Re: New to LR trying to understand the basics
                                dj_paige Level 10

                                https://forums.adobe.com/people/John+Waller  wrote

                                 

                                I'll take a look at the book, but I'm really not trying to become an expert in LR because I already have my own ways of organizing my files and folders in the Windows File System and I use Photoshop CC for editing.    I'm just using LR for a couple of small projects - some slide shows and books, so I just want to get a conceptual overview.

                                If that's the case, I'd suggest that Lightroom is not really the tool for what you want to do. It's a DAM and non-destructive photo editor rolled into one and has a learning curve which takes some commitment as you're discovering. Most people here have used Lightroom daily for years to get to grips with it.

                                 

                                If you only want something to use as a secondary tool for side projects, there are other tools out there which you may find more intuitive and may fit into your existing primary workflow better.

                                And I agree with John Waller completely. You are paying a lot of money for an advanced tool, and have decided to use just a tiny portion of the totality of the capabilities of Lightroom, but you still have to climb up the learning curve (which apparently you haven't done yet), and pay for this advanced powerful and state-of-the-art software, when other solutions might work better.

                                • 13. Re: New to LR trying to understand the basics
                                  JimHess Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                  In my opinion, if Lightroom isn't going to be central to your workflow then you're better off not trying to use it. I don't believe Lightroom is a good choice as a secondary photo editor because it really isn't an editor per se. But good luck, hope it does what you're expecting it to do.

                                  • 14. Re: New to LR trying to understand the basics
                                    pn78204181 Level 1

                                    That's just one simple example of how Lightroom differs from other programs.

                                     

                                    Adobe Premiere Pro, which I use a lot, works the same way.  It does not modify your original video content.

                                     

                                    I'm only interested in using LR to make some slide shows, and later this year, some small photo books.    I'm not going to do any editing whatsoever in LR -  I do all that in Photoshop.   This all started because I was on another forum asking for advice about software to make slide shows and I realized that outside of a few old photo enthusiasts the word "slide show" has totally morphed recently and now it means a VIDEO with a sequence of stills and fancy transitions between them.

                                     

                                    So I don't want to become a LR expert, but I just want to understand the basic concepts.

                                     

                                     

                                    • 15. Re: New to LR trying to understand the basics
                                      pn78204181 Level 1

                                      If you only want something to use as a secondary tool for side projects, there are other tools out there which you may find more intuitive and may fit into your existing primary workflow better.

                                       

                                      That's what I thought, too.   But in long discussions on two of the most active photography discussion forums on the web, FredMiranda.com and PhotographyTalk.com  almost everybody seemed to think that LR was pretty much it these days for slide shows.  Some people suggested PowerPoint, but I don't have Microsoft Office.   It seems that the word "slide show" has morphed in recent years to refer to a VIDEO of stills with fancy transitions, and the old fashioned idea of showing individual images at your own pace has died out along with the software to do that.

                                      • 16. Re: New to LR trying to understand the basics
                                        JimHess Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                        Like I said, good luck. The slideshow module in Lightroom is extremely basic, and there are plenty of other ways to create books. I won't contribute to this thread anymore, but Lightroom really using your best choice. Have fun.

                                        • 17. Re: New to LR trying to understand the basics
                                          pn78204181 Level 1

                                          but Lightroom really using your best choice

                                           

                                          ... can't parse this syntax.

                                          • 18. Re: New to LR trying to understand the basics
                                            JimHess Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                            Yeah. Lightroom ISN'T your best choice. My slip. Sorry.

                                            • 19. Re: New to LR trying to understand the basics
                                              John Waller Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                              Given your requirements, I'd say that Lightroom is definitely going to be a long and frustrating road for you given it won't be part of your main workflow.

                                               

                                              Producing the slideshow is the easier part in LR. Your issue will be importing, organizing and preparing your images in the Lightroom UI given that you are starting from Ground Zero.

                                               

                                              Which operating system are you using?

                                               

                                              There is other slideshow software out there. Is there a reason that you prefer a static slideshow to a more modern video presentation?

                                              • 20. Re: New to LR trying to understand the basics
                                                pn78204181 Level 1

                                                Two reasons:

                                                 

                                                1.  These slide shows are accompanied by lecture and probably questions and answers.   So I want to proceed at my own (or my audience's) pace, possibly spending several minutes on one slide and then quickly stepping through the next few, maybe even stepping backwards from time to time  to answer questions.   Just like any slide show presentation given to a live audience.

                                                 

                                                2.  I'm a serious photographer so I don't want my carefully histogrammed, color-balanced, sharpened, etc photos squished through an MP4 video codec.

                                                 

                                                I've struggled to find other slideshow software.  The problem is that the term "slide show" has become so taken over by these video things that Google searches mostly find just those.

                                                 

                                                The good news is that I've spent this evening playing around with this and making lots of test folders and collections and library filters, and keywords, etc, and I feel like I'm getting up to speed on LR pretty fast.

                                                • 21. Re: New to LR trying to understand the basics
                                                  John Waller Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                                  OK. Best wishes with using Lightroom. Hope it'll do what you want.