How to Use the Adobe Lightroom Library Module – A Beginners Guide

Lightroom on Laptop

Within Adobe Lightroom the Lightroom Library Module offers users a way to store, sort, import, create collections, add keywords, copyrights, move multiple images around, and other features. This post advises on how to use and how to get the most out of the Lightroom Library Module. It covers the Lightroom Import process, Lightroom Collections, Lightroom Catalogs, and also some other helpful features.

An Overview of Lightroom

Lightroom is the preferred application for many amateur photographers as well as some professionals. With its easy to use interface and powerful features it is easy to understand why. Some people like to use a combination of both Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. Adobe Lightroom covers most of the image manipulation features that you can find Photoshop.

Unlike Photoshop Lightroom is a non-destructive editor. This means there is no ‘save as’ button, saving isn’t a feature of Lightroom. Instead you will create a Lightroom Catalog and this will store all of the updates and changes you make to each image. This is pretty cool as Lightroom allows you to easily rollback changes at the click of a button.

Lightroom is split into various modules, there are 7 modules in total as of writing this article. The two main modules that people use are the Library and Develop modules. The article is a quick guide for beginners who are getting started with the Lightroom Library Module.

First Things First – Storage and Sorting

Before getting into the Lightroom Library Module it is worth thinking about creating a system for storing and sorting your images.

Storage

Store your images

I recommend using external hard drives to store your images. I have an external hard drive to store my images and another that I back them up onto. This way they don’t take up all your memory on your computer. The backup is like giving yourself an insurance policy should anything happen to the drive.

Sorting

You can sort your images in a number of different ways in Lightroom. You should decide how you want to sort your folders on your hard drive that contain the images first.

Use a logical method and then stick to it for consistency. I like to have folder for each year, and sub-folders for each three month period. Finally each shoot is contained in a folder which is named after the specific date and then the name of the shoot. For example, the folder with the images may be called ‘DDMMYYYY Central Park’. You can use this method or decide on another logical method you are comfortable with.

Getting started – Create a Lightroom Catalog

Now that you have decided where and how to store your images you can open Lightroom and get started. Lightroom Catalogs are the top level of organisation. Some people prefer to only have one Lightroom Catalog and have all their images inside it. Others prefer to break their Lightroom Catalogs down by genre of photography. For example, you may have the following Catalogs; Abstract, Street, Sport, Travel. Make the decision how to arrange your Catalogs first. If you have or will have a lot of images in future it may be worth considering creating multiple Catalogs.

To create New Catalog go to File – New Catalog – name the Catalog – hit ‘create’. At this point Lightroom will close down and open back up for the New Lightroom Catalog you have created.

Lightroom Import Process

To import your pictures go to File – Import Photos and Video. Or click the import button on the bottom left, then locate the source of your pictures on the left hand side. Here is a breakdown of the options you have during Lightroom Import:

Copying: Copy as a DNG converts the file type to DNG, whereas Copy just leaves it as the raw camera file type, e.g. cr2 for Canon. With copying; the original file stays where it is (e.g. on the camera card) and a copy is created in the new location (the place where these photos are going to go), and a copy is added to the Catalog.

Move: Moves the files from one place to another (e.g. from your camera card onto your computer), and adds them to the Lightroom Catalog.

Add: Adds the files to the Lightroom Catalog without moving them, so the file just stays where it currently is located.

Extra Options Available during Lightroom Import

Upon importing the images you will have more options available if you select Copy or Move than you would have for Add. For example, you are able to do File Renaming and select the Destination folder.

Say, for example, you choose Move – the Source folder is on the left and everything else is on the right. Start with the selecting the Destination folder (where you want to put the images).

If you want to put the images into a subfolder then tick ‘Into Subfolder’ and write the name of your subfolder. You can also choose how to organise your folders here.

Create a Copyright Preset in Lightroom

At this point on import its worth applying the Copyright to your images. To create a Copyright Preset in Lightroom you first open the Import window. So you will a create Copyright Preset in Lightroom then and apply on Import.

If an online publication uses one of your images, you want to be able to claim that as your image. If you add the copyright in Lightroom its easy to claim that, because the copyright information is stored within the image itself.

Go to – Apply During Import section

Go to Meta Data – New – to create a new metadata preset

Go to IPCT copyright, fill out like this

Create the preset then you can just choose it in future, no need to create every time.

File Handling

There are a few cool features that are very useful in the File Handling section.

Build Smart Previews: Tick this option to build extra files in the lightroom Catalogue. This is great because it means you have a file that is not connected to the source file. So for example, if you are away for home and you don’t want to carry your external hard-drive everywhere this is the feature for you. Upon creating the Smart Preview file Lightroom compresses it so that it doesn’t take up too much space on you device. It is worth noting the compressed file looks very good and remains a high quality.

Add to Collection: Tick this option to organise your files on import. I go over Lightroom Collections further down in this article so keep reading. For now lets just say they are another great way to organise you photo’s. This option saves you from having to organise later by simply adding the pictures on import.

Complete the Import

Once done complete the import by clicking Import and the images will be imported into the catalogue and the new folder structure will appear on the left.

Lightroom Collections

Lightroom Collections are a very useful tool that I often use. Firstly you are given the default Star Lightroom Collections. Use the numbers on your keypad/keyboard to rate your pictures one to five star. After you have rated them they will automatically appear in the corresponding star collection. Personally I only store my best images inside my collections relating to a particular shoot or even time period.

To create a Lightroom Collection go to the Collections drop-down in the Library Module and click the plus icon, then select Create Collection. From the resulting pop up box name the collection accordingly and click create.

Lightroom Collection Sets

Lightroom Collection Sets are another useful way to organise your images. If you want to create a collection with sub collections then a Lightroom Collection Set is what you should create. For example, I like to have collections for composition techniques. Therefore, I have a collection set called compositions and sub collections such as leading lines, rule of thirds, ect. Another example would be if you had a collection set called five aside tournament. You could then have sub collections such as team a, team b, ect.

To create a collection set hit the plus icon near Collections and select Create Collection Set. Write the name of the collection set and hit create. Then to create a sub collection inside this hit the plus icon again near Collections, but this time simply choose Create Collection. This time name your sub collection and tick ‘Inside a Collection set’. Choose the collection set you created before and hit create.

Lightroom Picks and Rejects

Lightroom allows you to quickly choose which images you like, and which ones you no longer want through the Picks and Rejects concept.

Select the image and hit ‘P’ to choose an image as a pick. To view the picked images click on Filters at the bottom and select ‘Flagged’.

Select the image and hit ‘X’ to reject an image. To remove rejected images go to Photo – Delete Rejected Photos (Ctr – backspace).

Summary

That concludes my Beginners Guide to the Lightroom Library Module. I hope you found it useful. I would recommend using Lightroom often at first to get used to the features. Experiment, play around with the sliders and see what effects each one has. After a while you will find your preferred editing style and you can preset that. 

While you’re here please check out my Street Photography Portfolio! Has this article helped you? Did I miss anything? What is favorite tool for editing your images? Leave me a comment at the bottom of the page….

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