1. Organizing before importing
Before you start importing photos into Lightroom, it’s a good idea to set up a folder structure for your photos outside of Lightroom. Make a top-level “Lightroom Photos” folder to hold all the photos you’ll eventually import. This top-level folder is important because it will make it easier to move all your photos to a larger drive if necessary in the future. Inside the top-level folder, organize your existing photos into subfolders by shoot date or subject matter. The subfolders will help you locate files in the Folders panel in Lightroom’s Library.
After organizing your existing photos into a folder structure like this, you can import them all into Lightroom together. Each time you import new photos after a shoot, you’ll have a well-organized folder structure ready to receive them.
2. Choosing how to import your photos
You’ll find a list of options across the top of the Lightroom Import window. When you’re importing existing photos that you have already organized, the best option is Add. Think of this command as “add in place.” It will leave your photos where you previously organized them, rather than moving them to a new location on your hard drive or making extra copies.
3. Choosing what you’ll see after import
In Lightroom 5 you can control which photos are displayed in the Library immediately after importing—those you just imported or those you were viewing right before importing. Sometimes it’s more convenient to stick with a folder or collection of photos you were viewing before an import. If you prefer that, go to the General category of Preferences and uncheck the option Select the ‘Current/Previous Import’ collection during import.
4. Bringing back a missing import panel
Have you ever been in a situation where one of the panels you’d expect to see in the Import window is missing? The solution is quick, but not easily discoverable.
When you’re importing from a camera’s memory card, you’ll normally see the File Handling, File Renaming, Apply During Import, and Destination panels in the right-hand column of the Import window. When you’re importing from a drive, you’ll normally see just the File Handling and Apply During Import panels. If any of those panels is not showing, you can bring it back into view by right-clicking (Mac: Control-clicking) on the title bar of any other panel on the right side of the Import window and clicking the name of the missing panel.
5. Import time saver
If you have a specific folder of photos to import, you can save a couple of steps by dragging the folder from your operating system into the grid in Lightroom’s Library module. That will pop open the Import window with all the photos in that folder ready to import.
For more importing tips and techniques, see my lynda.com course Up and Running with Lightroom 5.
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