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Three Things You Shouldn't Do in Lightroom

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There are many articles and videos on how to do certain things in Lightroom, but how often do you read about something that you shouldn’t do? Let’s cover a few of them.

Lightroom is a fantastic digital asset manager and image editor. Whether you use Lightroom for just organizing and keywording your photos or use it for editing, there are a few things you shouldn’t do.

1. Work From the All Photographs Selection

I’ve seen a few of my non-professional friends do this. They had the Folders panel in Lightroom collapsed and simply operated by having the All Photographs item in the Catalog panel selected.

Showing all of your photographs in the Library module grid not only makes it harder to navigate the photos from the shoot you’re trying to edit, but it also has a couple of drawbacks:

  1. Querying, displaying, and updating the grid display of all of the photos from the Lightroom database (Catalog) can take longer (performance issues).
  2. If your imported files have the wrong date in them, the default sorting method of Capture Time may make finding the photos difficult.
  3. You risk modifying all of the images in your catalog. I once saw a friend who selected what he thought was all of the photos from a shoot and then chose to delete them. The problem? Because there were a few hundred images from the shoot and he was in the All Photographs selection, he did not see that all of the photos from his library were displayed. When he selected them all, he selected everything in his catalog. He deleted everything with three keystrokes. I was able to recover everything, but you should have seen the look on his face.

2. Import Into a Single Folder

Worse than number one, don’t make the mistake of putting all of your images into a single folder. In both photography and my software development roles, I’ve seen users with thousands of files in a single folder. Not only does it make it harder on the operating system to enumerate, search, and find files in this folder, it can slow down Lightroom, as it has to display all of these in the Library view. Along with showing them, it checks whether they exist or were modified as well.

If there’s one thing you need to learn, it’s where your photos are stored and how they should be stored. They should be in some kind of hierarchical folder structure. Whether that’s year/month/day, category/sub-category/shoot-name, or some other logical way you want to come up with, you should be able to locate your images somewhat quickly. You should also be able to locate them outside of Lightroom for maintenance and distribution requirements. It’s a simple organizational technique that can have numerous benefits.

3. Use Default Filenames From the Camera When Importing

IMG_3459.JPG: OK, tell me when that was taken, or what shoot it was from. You can’t, because it’s the default filename straight from the camera. There’s absolutely no reason to use the default filename from the camera, especially if you have a four-digit counter, because after 9,999 files, you’ll end up with duplicate file names.

When importing files from a memory card, you should use the File Renaming section of the import dialog to rename the file to something more meaningful. I use a YYYY-MM-DD-Count-ShootName format, so I end up with a file name something like 2020-01-26-0001-Eagles.cr2.

If you’re importing from a hard drive, you can either rename your files beforehand using your favorite file renaming software or rename them in Lightroom after importing using the Rename Photos sub-menu under the Library menu.

Conclusion

Avoiding these few things in Lightroom will not only make your Lightroom perform better, it will also make it easier to find images and keep you from having issues in the future. Do you have any things that you would suggest users not do in Lightroom? Let me know in the comments!

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