Quick Tip: Importing to Lightroom Made Easier

Quick Tip: Importing to Lightroom Made Easier


This tutorial is from the Lightroom 4 Workshop Collection. Including 27 hours of A to Z Lightroom 4 education and the industry standard Lightroom 4 Preset System. DPS users can get 10% off by using the DPS10 coupon code upon checkout. Click the link above to learn more/purchase.


In this tutorial, we will give you a quick tip when importing image into Lightroom that will eliminate the need to search around for import and destination folders.

Step 1. Create Your Catalog

If you don’t already have a Lightroom catalog created, then let’s go ahead and create one now. Simply open Lightroom and go to File -> New Catalog.


Give your Catalog a descriptive name and a destination folder of your choice. Remember to keep your naming conventions consistent to have an efficient and organized workflow. Our naming convention is as follows:


So, for this example we have the following:

2013.02.11 – Cesar and Ashley Engagement which is typed into the File name location shown in the image below.


After you hit “Save”, Lightroom will close and re-open with the New Catalog which is ready for images to be imported.

Step 2. Creating the “Folders”

We will be directly importing the images into a folder on the left-side Panels called “Folders.” But, first we have to create a folder for the images to be imported into. On the Folders Panel, simply click the “+” icon to create a new folder as shown below.


Now, select the same folder where we saved our catalog to create the folder where we want to place the original images. We do this to ensure that the images always move with the catalog if the catalog is ever transferred.


To create new Folder for your original images, right-click within the Folder content area and select “New Folder”. Remember, we are doing this all from the “Add Folder” dialogue in Lightroom, not in the Operating System.


Type in “00_Originals” or the name of your choice for the Folder to contain your original images. Again, keep your naming conventions consistent for better organization. Then click “Select Folder”.


Step 3. Importing Directly to Folders

Now that we have our folder created. We have two options to import. Option number 1 is to Right-click on the Folder that shows up under the Folders Panel and select “Import to this Folder” as shown below.


This will pull up our Import Dialogue and automatically set the destination to the “00_Originals” Folder without having to manually select our destination as we normally would.

Workflow Tip: Apply a Workflow Preset on Import

Before you begin the Import process, we always select an import preset that is most applicable to the type of images being imported. In our studio, we generally use the “Extra Soft Color” Preset for portrait sessions from the Lightroom 4 Preset System by SLR Lounge as shown below.


When you are finished, select “Import” located on the bottom-right in Lightroom.


And that’s it! Hopefully this little quick tip on importing will help you to import images just a bit more efficiently.

Learn More with the Lightroom 4 Workshop Collection!

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Post Production Pye I hate speaking of myself in the third person, haha. I am a Partner and professional photographer with Lin and Jirsa Los Angeles Wedding Photography, and the Senior Editor for SLR Lounge Photography Tutorials. I am passionate about photography as an art as well as my part as an educator in the industry. Subscribe to our YouTube Channel and feel free to hit me up with questions anytime on Facebook.

Some Older Comments

  • Joseph March 12, 2013 12:05 am

    I also use seperate catalogs per client, very simple and client specific, keyworded, and dated. Client needs a photo go to clients name get catalog from folder and search time is minimal for obtaining photo without the need to go through all your photos. All other photos same catalog.

  • Henk March 11, 2013 01:32 pm

    Creating separate catalogues for separate jobs is an interesting approach. At least if the photographer is one of a team. He/She will be able to work in an independent way. However, for search reasons and classification of the photos, one single catalogue is preferred. Independent catalogues cannot be searched together so you'd end up searching in each catalogue. That kind of defeats the purpose of LR. If you need to search for that one important picture among your 45 different catalogues, you're better off with one single catalogue.

    Next, LR has all the tools to import into a specific folder, be it with or without any kind of ordering (date/time/etc).

    An article like this one may seem interesting for the beginning LR user, but will hamper him/her in the not too far foreseeable future.

    The pictures don't need to follow the same organisation on the OS level. You're free there. You can even have pictures on external drives and still have them searchable in the main catalogue.

    In my training courses I always prefer the one master catalogue approach, easier to understand, easier to work with in the long run. Also, if you have several million pictures in a catalogue, since it is a database, it will have no qualms finding that specific picture of yours within seconds. Multiple catalogues just don't present that advantage.

  • Duncan Fawkes March 8, 2013 09:05 am

    I have to agree with Bruce on this one. Perhaps that approach does work for you (I also don't see the value, but I'm not in your situation) but I don't think it's one that should be advocated in a public tutorial, especially regarding a topic that is likely to appeal to relative beginners who may get confused.

    I think the tutorial should refer to a single catalog containing all images, which is by far the most common use case. I'd also suggest that, in a single catalog scenario, it is better not to have your images as a subfolder of the Lightroom catalog folder. It is better to have the image archive separate from your processing software in my opinion.

    Beyond the catalog creation debate, I feel that the rest of the tutorial is also a tad convoluted (or I am missing something). In the LR Import dialog you can choose the Destination (and I'd always advocate the organise "by date" option) including specifying a subfolder which seems to do what you say in a much more intuitive way? I don't think you need to manually create the folder and then import into it as you suggest, the import dialog will do it for you.

    Sorry, I don't want to be critical of this article but on this occasion I feel the advice is in part wrong and more complex than it should be. Using a single catalog and using the options present within the Import dialog is a better approach for most people IMO.

  • Bruce March 8, 2013 08:15 am

    Thank you for the response.
    I still am wondering how separate catalogs, rather than keywording and/or separate collections is more efficient.

    I could understand separate catalogs for each photographer, but for each shoot seems to me to make more work in the long run.

    If this works for you, fantastic. I think though for a tutorial to the general public telling them to make a new catalog each time is going to cause some confusion down the road.
    /just my 2 cents on it.

  • Pye March 8, 2013 05:17 am

    Bruce & Dima, with my personal photos, I keep everything in single catalog for organizational purposes. Easier to access, and I am not generally worried about production efficiency. In our studio, we have 15 photographers and process well over a million images a year. So every professional shoot gets its own catalog to facilitate easy transferring and peak catalog efficiency. Hope that helps.

  • Bruce March 8, 2013 02:24 am

    That is my thoughts as well, and why I was confused that this started out saying to make a new catalog.
    I have been using LR for a few years now, and still using the same catalog.

  • Dima March 7, 2013 06:59 pm

    Please give us any reason why you create new catalog per import?
    LR will not open without selected catalog, that why there is default catalog. You should create catalog for specific usage, not folder. Still for photography beginners default catalog is enough.

    Catalogs are for keeping large mass of the photofolders in one view. And you can also create smart collections inside the catalog based on tags or what ever you want. You don't have to use catalogs for storing the originals, but for meta-data, thus you can keep them small. You need to set LR to remove big previews after specific amount of time, then there will be only meta-data.
    It is pain in your ass if you have to open different catalogs every time just for searching photos.

    Sensible usage for catalogs is one catalog per year, if you shoot very large amount of photos every year.
    Or catalog for active photos that are used for sale and some production. And another just for archive.
    Or like one catalog for private photos and another for work photos.

    Also if there will be major update in LR version, catalogs are easy to update if there is only few of them.

  • John March 7, 2013 10:28 am

    For me organization in Lightroom has been an impossibly hard thing to learn and it starts from the moment you import into the software - I do keep things organized in catalogs - but not every import or every photo just what I'm working on or want at quick reach. Everything else is organized by date into folders.

    I do admit I need to get a bit more organized though - it just seems like I'm always adding to the pile and never have time to fix it.

    Anyways Lightroom is my favorite software and I'll be checking out some more of your tips.

    I do my own series on quick Lightroom editing tips on YouTube here - http://bit.ly/Zrsz7q - if people want to check out some of my ideas I'd love to help answer some questions over there. :)

  • Bruce March 7, 2013 08:36 am

    Are you saying to make a new catalog with each import?