The second topic I will touch on for using Adobe Lightroom 4 is the use of Folders.
Last time I introduced Catalogs, the database files which store everything that you do in Lightroom. The foundation for the Catalog and your editing is the set of Folders and the images held within them.
When you import images into Lightroom you are essentially bringing their parent Folders with them. You can choose to import one, some, or all images in a folder, but in any case the folder itself comes with them into the Catalog database.
Pretty much everything else that you do in Lightroom is "virtual" in the sense that it only exists within the realm of the Catalog database. But the Folders you have are your true links to the physical (which drive) and logical (where on that drive) location of your base image files.
My Lightroom Folder strategy is very simple:
- Create new folders for each roll of film I scan or digital series of images (ex. one day or event of shooting)
- Name the folder on the disk in the format "yyyy mm dd topic camera film" where the day and film are optional (see above screenshot)
- Keep the folders in one of two places: initially a local drive Library location, and then once my edits and online publishing are done I move it to a Library location on my network storage drive
You can freely move your Folders around on the drives of your computer, network storage, etc. However, when you do so Lightroom indicates via greying out the folder name that it has lost track of where it is.
When that happens simply right click on the folder in Lightroom, select "Find missing folder…" and the browse to and select its new location. This will update the Folder and all images within it to its new location and is pretty painless.
I keep my Folder strategy to essentially a linear timeline of rolls/shoots, even if the images in those folders are split into multiple purposes. My next topic will be Collections which is really where all the magic happens in organizing your images inside Lightroom.