4 Tips to Get Organized in Lightroom Classic CC


So you’ve downloaded Lightroom and started importing some images, and are having a great time learning how to navigate the program and playing with all those awesome sliders.

It is a lot of fun!

Perhaps you are curious on getting more organized within Lightroom, these tips are great to keep in mind as you are learning to use the program.


Some people like to organize all of their images into Collections and work just from those. However, for me, one of the main reasons we use a program like Lightroom is for the organisational tools. The biggest challenge we may face is how to organize those images. It can be hard, but it doesn’t have to be.

I wanted to share how I organize my images, with this in mind, our brains all work a little differently when it comes to many things, including how we organize information. What works for my, may not work for you, but the key is figuring out what works for you and being able to build upon that.

For me I have category folders, then subfolders within those.


Categories currently include things like: Community, Glazer’s, Headshots, Places and much more. Within those Parent folders, are a series of sub-folders that fit within that category. Take places for example, within places you will find loads of images related to travel that I’ve done, going back many years. I photograph many things on a trip, including Awkward Selfies and photos of cars that I’ve rented, and of course, the places I’ve visited. Going deeper within the US folder, you will see folders for different parts of the country, as well specific road trips I’ve done.



For me it’s easier to create a structure like this, so I can find things in this way, by location, or photo session.

But wait! There are so many ways to find things….




Keywords are awesome. Basically your Lightroom catalogue is a database of all of your images. When you add keywords to images, that becomes part of the database and becomes searchable. This is amazing.

At present my main catalogue has about 200,000 images in it, not really that many, but a lot to some! Say I want to find images that I captured in Iceland, but don’t want to navigate through all the folders… I can click “All Photographs” under Catalogue to essentially highlight them all. While in the Grid view, I can click “Text” and enter the word Iceland. Immediately this hides all of the images, not tagged “Iceland”. In this instance that’s 1,368 photos.


That’s just one way to use Keywords. You can add them as you import a batch of images, or you can select individual or groups of images and add them after import in the keywords field. Just remember to use a comma after each keyword to separate them!


Flags & Ratings


When you’ve been out for a day or just come home from a trip, it’s time to sit down, import images, review, rate and decide what to work on. One crucial thing to remember: Do not edit everything!

Sometimes we come back from a trip with hundreds or thousands of images, the thought of editing them all is daunting. Be selective, edit only the best!

My process is

  • Import images
  • View images in full screen mode (F – is the keyboard shortcut)
  • And rate! I tend to use 1 – 5 stars, 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 on your keyboard relate to the star ratings.


For me, 1 star is “bleh”, 5 stars is “freaking awesome”. Typically I will do a quick pass, going with my gut instincts on what I think is best. Many images will get 3 or 4 stars, only a few get 5 on that first past. Then I do a second pass at the 3, 4, and 5 stars to get to the best.

From there I edit only the 5 star images.

Some people also like to use the Pick and Reject flags, this is definitely another way to tackle this process.

Here are my 5 Star selects from that trip to Iceland, pairing down the images, is potentially the most challenging part of image editing.



Collections are another way to organize your images. Personally I do not use these as my primary organisational tool, as I prefer to have my folder structure super organized. However I use Collections for quite a few things:

• New photo sessions I’ll be editing
• Images I want to share to Lightroom Mobile
• Images I want to Print
• Pulling together images for projects, like articles, workshops and books

One of the great things about Collections, it’s one of the few (if not the only) panel that is visible in all of the modules in Lightroom. This means images in a Collection are visible in Library to Develop to Print. That’s a really awesome thing.


What are the differences?



A Collection allows you to select images, manually, and organize them under the Collections Panel within Lightroom. These can sync to Lightroom Mobile, from there they can be access or your phone or tablet, when you have downloaded the Lightroom Mobile app and signed into the same Adobe account. The little squiggle line on the left of the collection name, indicates it’s synced with Lightroom Mobile. I only sync, select collections to Lightroom Mobile, as that takes up more space on my laptop.

Smart Collection

Smart Collections will do some of the heavy lifting for you. A smart collection will automatically update as you make changes to images in your catalogue. An example would be, say you set up a Smart Collection to search for all your 5* Images. As you make images 5 stars or change a rating from 5 to 4 or something else, this Smart Collection will fluctuate.

You can also set up Smart Collections to look for keywords, metadata and much more!

Collection Set

Think of a Collection Set as a parent folder, by using Collection Sets you can organize your Collections or Smart Collections.

Some of my Collection Sets include:
LR Mobile

Within those are Collections or Smart Collections.
Collections can sync to Lightroom Mobile, Smart Collections, cannot.

Well there are a few things to help get you started in getting organized in Lightroom. Want to learn more? Check out my upcoming Lightroom Essentials Part 1 course on Sunday, March 3, 2019! There are just a few spots left, but this is a great way to see these things, live, ask questions and learn best practices in working in Lightroom Classic CC.

For more on the workshop and to register: Lightroom Essentials Part 1.