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Using Collections for Organization


  1. The Case for Collections
  2. Collecting Your Photos
  3. Maintaining Collections Over Time

Chapter Description

In this sample chapter from Taming your Photo Library with Adobe Lightroom, author Rob Sylvan explores the advantages of using a second level of organization when storing your photos, moving from simple folders to catalogs.

Maintaining Collections Over Time

As you play around with ideas for collections, you will undoubtedly need to move photos between collections, remove photos from collections, remove collections entirely, rename collections, and so on. You can never escape housekeeping chores, and keeping the Collections panel clean will only help you in the long run.

Moving Things Around

Because any photo can be in any number of collections without duplicating the original photo on your drive, it makes sense that you’ll have situations where you have a photo in one collection and decide to add it to another. Smart collections handle this sort of situation automatically; photos appear in a smart collection when they meet all of a smart collection’s criteria, and Lightroom removes them when they no longer meet the criteria. When it comes to regular collections, however, you have to manually add or remove photos from the collections.

If you are viewing a photo in one regular collection and decide to add it to another, you can simply drag and drop the photo onto the other collection. Remember, however, that doing so does not remove the photo from the original collection; it only adds the photo to the destination collection. If you want to remove the photo from the original collection, you have to select it while viewing that collection and press Delete.

Likewise, you may need to move a collection into a collection set or even move an entire collection set into another collection set. In each case, you select the collection and then drag and drop it into the destination collection set, all within the Collections panel.

Using a Target Collection

Setting a regular collection as the target collection gives it a special keyboard shortcut that enables you to quickly add photos to that collection with a single keystroke. Only regular collections can have this honor, and the original default target collection is the Quick Collection, found in the Catalog panel. Before you delve deeper into how to use a target collection, it can help to understand the role of the Quick Collection.

The purpose of the Quick Collection is to provide a simple way to quickly gather together a group of photos for whatever reason that makes sense to you. Perhaps you need to temporarily round up several photos that are stored across a range of folders for a quick export, or maybe you need to print them to give to a family member or have some other short-term reason that doesn’t quite justify creating a long-term collection for that group of photos.

You can drag and drop photos into the Quick Collection just like a regular collection, but the real benefit of the Quick Collection is its keyboard shortcut (the B key), which enables you to send selected photos to the Quick Collection with a single keystroke. If you prefer, a click of the small round button that appears in the upper-right corner of thumbnails when you move the cursor over the photo does the same thing (Figure 4.16). The button stays visible on photos in the Quick Collection to provide a visual clue to their status.

Figure 4.16

Figure 4.16 This button allows you to send photos to the target collection, which in this example is the Quick Collection.

You can remove photos from the Quick Collection by selecting them and pressing the Backspace key (Mac: Delete), by pressing the B shortcut, or by clicking that round button.

As you can see, the functionality of the Quick Collection is very useful, and now we come full circle back to another way to use the target collection. You can assign any regular collection to be the target collection (only one target collection can be assigned at a time). When you assign a regular collection as the target collection, the B key and the round button send selected photos to that collection instead of to the Quick Collection. To assign a collection as the target collection, right-click the collection and choose Set as Target Collection from the context menu that appears. The chosen collection will be marked with the same small + icon that was previously showing on the Quick Collection as a visual reminder of its new status (Figure 4.1). Or, when creating a new collection, you’ll see the option “Set as Target Collection” appear in the Create Collection dialog.

One way I love to use the “Set as Target Collection” feature is when I need to sort through large numbers of photos to add them to different collections, such as when I am working on a book project and I need to choose photos for the various chapters. I start by creating a collection set for the book, and then I create a regular collection for each chapter. I’ll assign the chapter I want to work on as the target collection, and then it is easy to go looking through my catalog and quickly add photos to that target collection just by selecting the photo and pressing the B key. It is a simple little feature, but one that saves me a lot of time, and I think you’ll find it just as useful in your workflow.

Renaming and Deleting

For one reason or another you will eventually come upon the need to rename existing collections and collection sets, or even delete them outright. You can delete any collection from the Collections panel by selecting the collection and clicking the minus sign that appears in the panel header (Figure 4.1). Deleting the collection removes it from the panel (but remember that it does not delete the photos from the drive).

My go-to option, however, is the context menu that appears when you right-click. This trick works all over the place inside Lightroom, so when in doubt anywhere, right-click and see what context options appear. For example, suppose your February trip got postponed to April, so now you need to rename your collection set and update your smart collection relating to that trip. All you need to do is right-click the collection set and choose Rename from the context menu (Figure 4.17).

Figure 4.17

Figure 4.17 The context menu on a collection brings up a number of useful options.

Choosing Rename from the menu opens the Rename Collection Set dialog, where you can update the name and click Rename to commit the change. There is a Delete option in that menu too, and that’s the route I usually take when I want to delete a collection.

The right-click trick comes in handy on a photo when you are viewing it in a collection and you want to quickly jump to its source folder for some reason (such as to delete it from disk). Just right-click the photo and choose the “Go to Folder in Library” option to quickly jump to the folder view. Alternatively, you can choose “Go to Collection” from the menu and jump to another collection that the photo belongs to as well (Figure 4.18).

Figure 4.18

Figure 4.18 The context menu on a photo gives you all kinds of shortcuts.

Now that you have a better appreciation for how the information you add to your photos (aka metadata) in Lightroom can begin to help you in your organizational efforts, let’s move on to the next chapter to learn all the ways that info can actually be added.

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