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Before you import any files into Lightroom, it's a good idea to spend some time outside of Lightroom. Organizing your existing photos and videos into a consistent system of folders. Starting with an organized folder system will make it easier to manage your photos from inside Lightroom later. It will also help you to keep track of photos outside of Lightroom when you have to. In your operating system or in other programs you may use like Adobe Bridge. The most important tip that I can give you about organizing your files outside of Lightroom is to start with one parent folder.
Like this folder that I made in my Mac finder and called light room photos. Of course you can name that parent folder anything you would like. The main reason to get everything organized inside a parent folder like this, is that it will make it easier to move your files to a bigger drive if you need to in the future. All you'll have to do at that stage is move this single parent folder from inside of Lightroom and all of your files will go with it. I'll show you how to move files and folders inside Lightroom later. Now how you organize your files inside this parent folder is up to you. Some photographers organize by subject matter.
Others find it more useful to organize the folders by date and then use Lightroom features like keywords and collections. To keep track of photos by subject matter as we'll see later. So here you can see a typical folder organization by date. Inside this parent folder, I've made some subfolders by year. And then inside each year, I've put sub-folders for each shoot during that year. The sub-folders for each shoot, I name by date. And then I add a word or two about the location and the subject matter of the shoot.
Let's open a couple of those shoot sub-folders so that you can see the kinds of files that you can bring into Lightrooms. That includes JPEGs, TIFs and PSD, or Photoshop document format files. And of course, you can bring RAW files into Lightroom. Here I have several different flavors of RAW file. This file, this NEF was created by a Nikon camera. The next file, this XMP file is what's called a sidecar file. It contains the metadata for that NEF file. Down here you can see a RAW file created by a Panasonic camera and its XMP file and here is a DNG file. This is a special open-source format, created by Adobe for raw files. One of the advantages of DNG files, is that they don't require these sidecar files, so you don't have those extra files to keep track of. Later, we'll see that when you import files from your digital camera into Light Room, you can convert your propertary raw files, like this NEF file or this RW2 file into a DNG file.
You can also import many types of video clips into Lightroom, like these three files that you see here. And in Lightroom 5, you can import PNG files, includingPNG files that contain transparency, although the transparent pixels will look white in Lightroom. So those are some ideas about how to organize your photos before your start importing them into Lightroom. Your next thought may be, well where should I put those Lightroom photos? Should I put them on my computer or on an external drive? And that's what we'll talk about next.
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