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Chances are that you have photos, maybe lots of photos, that you have already taken and that you would like to include in Lightroom. This movie covers how to import photos that you've already offloaded from your camera to your computer's hard drive, or even to an external drive. This is similar to the technique that I covered in the last movie for importing the exercise files for the course, but in this case, we will be importing your personal photos into the default main Lightroom catalog. Before you get started importing existing photos, it's really worth it to take the time to organize them into folders.
At the very least, decide where you are going to store all the photos that you will be bringing into your Lightroom catalog and create one big folder there. I will call that the umbrella folder. Putting all your Lightroom photos, existing ones and those you shoot in the future, into this one umbrella folder will make it easier if you have to move them all to another drive when the drive you are using gets full. So, where are you going to make this umbrella folder? Well, if you decide that you're going to store all your photos on your computer, then it makes sense to make your umbrella folder and the Pictures folder on the Mac or the My Pictures folder on, Windows because those are the operating system's default location for photos.
You can see here that I've made an umbrella folder for my photos here inside my Pictures folder. I have called my umbrella folder Jan Lightroom Photos, but you can name yours whatever you like. If you've got photos in different locations on your computer, or maybe even on different hard drives, before you bring the photos into Lightroom, use your operating system to move your photos all into this umbrella folder. If you photos are already in subfolders, then move those in too. Then take the time to give the subfolders consistent names. I'd like to have a separate subfolder for each shoot, which I name with the date first, by year, month, and day, and then I add a couple of words for location and subject matter.
You may have noticed that there is another folder in your Pictures folder called Lightroom. This folder is made automatically by the program, and it contains the catalog files for the default main Lightroom catalog. The important point is that this Catalog folder is different and separate from the umbrella folder that you'll make in which to store your photos. The umbrella folder that contains the actual photos you will be bringing into Lightroom does not have to be in the same place, or even on the same drive, as the Catalog folder.
If you're wondering what this folder is, it's just a separate exercise files catalog folder that we made in the last movie, and it's not relevant to this movie where we are talking about how to import your personal photos into the main Lightroom catalog. After you've done the housekeeping chores that I just mentioned, it's time to import your photos into Lightroom. I am going to launch Lightroom, which opens to the last catalog in which I was working. If you were following along with me for the last movie, you are probably also in the exercise files catalog here in Lightroom.
Let's switch over to the main Lightroom catalog. To do that, I will go to the File menu and down to Open Catalog, and then I will go to the Pictures folder and into the Lightroom folder, and there I will click on the Lightroom 3 Catalog file, and I will click Open. That re-launches Lightroom to the default Lightroom 3 catalog. My Lightroom catalog is currently empty, and I want to bring in the photos that live on my hard drive, so I will go down to the Import button and I will click there to open the Import Window.
I'll start by going to Select a source, and there I'm going to navigate to the umbrella folder that contains all my photos. Those live in my Pictures folder, which I will select from this menu, and then I will go down to the Source panel, which contains a file tree of all of the folders and files on my computer, and if I had an external drive plugged in, it would show the folders and files there too. I am going to navigate into my Pictures folder and down to my Jan Lightroom Photos folder. This is the umbrella folder into which I put all my photos.
I will click on that, and then I will make sure that Include Subfolders is checked, so that I can see in this central portion of the window, thumbnails of all of the photos that are inside the subfolders in my umbrella folder. By default, all of these are checked, which means I'll be bringing all of them into Lightroom. If for some reason there is one photo that I don't want to bring in, I can always uncheck it like this, but I am going to leave them all checked for now. By the way, Lightroom supports and lets me bring in images in many different file formats.
Those include TIFF, most RAW files, including DNG or open-source RAW files, JPEGs and even Photoshop document files, .PSD files, as long as I have saved those with Photoshop's Maximize Compatibility preference enabled. One caveat: if you shoot should both RAW and JPEG versions of the same photo, you will only see the RAW version of the photo here in the Import window. You can change that if you go up to the Lightroom Preferences, but I am going to leave it that way for now. Next, I am going to go up to the center of the bar at the top, and here I'm going to set the way that I want Lightroom to handle my photos as it brings them in.
If you already put all your photos where they're going to live in that umbrella folder on a single drive as I suggested, then you get to make the simplest choice here, which is to Add. When you choose Add, Lightroom will leave the photos where they are and just add information about them to the catalog without moving the actual photos. If you were to choose Move, then Lightroom would move the actual photos, and if you were to choose Copy or Copy as DNG, Lightroom would move a copy of the photos. So, when I bring in all the files from my hard drive, I am just going to choose Add to leave them where they are.
Over here Lightroom is telling me that it's going to add information about the photos to my existing catalog, the main Lightroom 3 default catalog. I will take a glance at the File Handling panel over here on the right. From the Render Previews menu, I can choose the way that I want Lightroom to create the previews of the photos that it will display in my Lightroom library. Minimal is the fastest option here. It'll save me time importing my photos, particularly if I am bringing in lots of photos. Now, it may cause a photo to take a few seconds to load for the first time when I'm viewing it later in the library, but it will save me time upon importing, so I will leave this set to Minimal.
When I'm importing photos from a hard drive, I like to uncheck Don't Import Suspected Duplicates. I do this just to make sure that I get all the photos I intended into Lightroom. Even with this unchecked, Lightroom won't re-import a photo with the same name as one that it already imported. If I were to leave this checked, then if Lightroom found a photo that it thought was a duplicate of one I already imported, that file would be grayed out in this area and I wouldn't be able to import it. So, I will leave this unchecked, although in this case I haven't imported any photos yet, so it really doesn't matter one way or the other.
Down here in the Apply During Import panel, there are some options that I could apply to all of the photos as I import them into Lightroom. But since I'm importing lots of different photos, it really doesn't make sense to add Develop Settings or keywords to them, and because some of these photos may already have metadata attached to them, it doesn't make sense to add metadata at this point either. So I am just going to move right down and click Import. That takes Lightroom back to the Library module, and you may have seen that there was a quick progress bar there as Lightroom completed the process of importing photos into my Lightroom catalog.
When that process is finished, the Library module displays previews of the photos in each of the subfolders inside my umbrella folder. If I want to view the photos in just one of those subfolders, I can come over here to the Folders panel, which shows each of the folders on my hard drive that contain any of the photos that I brought into Lightroom. So, if I want to see just the previews of photos in this folder, I can click on it here in the Folders panel. So that's the process for importing photos from a hard drive into Lightroom. The most important thing to take from this movie, I think, is a suggestion to do some photo organizing before you import existing photos from a hard drive into Lightroom.
Now that you have done that, you're all set up to import new photos from your camera or card reader in the future, into the same organizational system, and that's what I'm going to show you how to do in the next movie.
- Understanding Lightroom catalogs
- Importing photos from multiple sources
- Organizing photos with ratings, keywords, and collections
- Working with virtual copies
- Making basic corrections to photo color and tone
- Making local photo edits with the Adjustment Brush and Graduated Filter tools
- Removing spots from multiple photos at once
- Reducing digital noise and sharpening
- Cropping and straightening
- Printing and exporting edited photos