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Before you get too involved working with your images in Lightroom, I really encourage you to spend some time evaluating your overall folder structure where you store your photographic images. There are a couple of key considerations that I think are very importiant. The first is where you actually store your photos. From my perspective, the best approach is to have a single location where all of your digital photos are stored. One of the biggest challenges you can run into is having images spread across a variety of different storage locations. I personally prefer to use an external hard drive to store all of my images. That provides me with an nice, compact, and portable solution for storing my images.
But that's not necessarily the best solution for everyone. The key in my mind is to have a single location identified. For purposes of this video training, I'm going to keep all of my images in the Pictures folder on my computer. And within that Pictures folder, because I'll have other things stored in that folder, such as the Lightroom catalogs, I'm going to create a folder for all of my photos. I've called that folder Tim Gray photos, and inside of that folder, I already have some images that I've accumulated. Most photographers probably already have a relatively large collection of images before they even start working with Lightroom.
How you structure that storage can be rather important as a baseline organizational structure that will carry into Lightroom. My personal approach is to define images based on the concept of a photo shoot. Now, that's a bit of a loose term. A photo shoot might be simply going out into the back yard to photograph flowers for an hour, or it might be a multi-week vacation trip throughout Europe. The key is to consider how you think about those images. Which images belong in a group, and which don't.
However it is that you think about a particular set of images, that's what I recommend naming the folder. For example, here I have images from a couple of trips. One was the California Photo Festival in October 2011. So, logically enough, I've named the folder California Photo Festival - October 2011. And this is the basic structure I use for all of the folders where I store my images. I think about whatever I consider to be the encapsulation of those photos. It might be the name of an event, the name of a country, the name of a person or some other information that I find meaningful related to those photos.
I also include the month and year, which helps make it easier, especially if for example, I visit the same location multiple times. Within each of these folders I don't have sub-folders, I only have images. In this case a series of RAW captures and their XMP sidecar files. I simply prefer to have a single folder for a given photo trip or for a single group of images. That's the approach that I recommend. The most important thing of course is that this basic folder structure provides a base line organizational system that makes sense for you.
The key is to think about these issues and make a plan, and stick to it. Making sure that this basic folder structure is organized and consistent will make your work in Lightroom that much easier.
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