Lightroom for Beginners: How to Import, View, Organise Photos in Lightroom

Mastered the art of taking good photographs using DSLR camera settings and composition techniques? Well, that’s great! Friend, it’s time you take your photography to the next level. Yes, we mean – giving your photographs the ‘Wow Factor’ with Adobe Lightroom for PC (Lightroom desktop version) which has powerful tools that allow you to enhance your photos by adjusting the white balance, brightness, contrast, sharpness, colour, certain parts of your photo using selective editing and more. 

What is Lightroom used for?

Lightroom is a photo organization and post-processing software. Steps include:

  1. Import & organize your photos (using Library Module in Lightroom)
  2. Edit your photos (using Develop Module in Lightroom)
  3. Export/share your photos (using Library Module in Lightroom)

Lightroom Editing: Nondestructive Editing

The adjustments that you make to your photos in Lightroom are stored in the Catalog which is a database that tracks the location and information about your photos. It shows a preview of your original photo combined with the list of changes you’ve made in Lightroom. Your original photos remain untouched.

Lightroom Editing gives you flexibility – if you don’t like any particular edit/change that you’ve made to your photo, you can easily & quickly undo that step. It allows you to create various versions of your photo without affecting your original image data.

How to Use Lightroom to Organize your Photographs

Import photos into Lightroom/ Import photos into Lightroom from SD card

Import your photos into Lightroom Catalog either from your PC/laptop, external hard drive or SD card.

  • Open Lightroom in your PC/laptop. At the top right of the screen, look for the Library Module. Then, in the Library Module, click the Import button which you’ll see at the bottom left of the screen.
  • Importing photos from your PC/laptop/external hard drive: On the left-hand side of the screen, below Source – select the hard drive and folders of photos you need to import. (Please note: Include Subfolders should be checked). At the top centre of the Import window (above the image thumbnails), ‘Add’ will be selected by default to enable import without moving your photos to a new location. Click the Import button (at the bottom right) to start importing your photos.
Import photos into Lightroom
Import photos into Lightroom
  • Importing photos from SD card: On the left-hand side of the screen, below Source – select the SD card from which you need to import the photos. (Please note: Eject after Import should be checked) At the top centre of the Import window (above the image thumbnails), ‘Copy’ will be selected by default since you’re importing photos from SD card). Use the Destination panel (on the right-hand side of the screen) to organize your imported photos by date into one selected folder, or by subfolder in your PC/laptop. Click the Import button (at the bottom right) to start importing your photos.
Import photos into Lightroom from SD card
Import photos into Lightroom from SD card
  • Once your photos are imported, you’ll see them in the Library Module in Previous Import in the Catalog panel which is on the left-hand side of the screen.

See photos in Lightroom using different view modes

In the Library Module, you can use different view modes to see your photos in various sizes and also compare them. You can switch between views using the keyboard shortcuts mentioned below. 

  • Grid View (keyboard shortcut: G)
Lightroom Grid View
Lightroom Grid View

This view shows all the photos (in All photographs in the Catalog panel).

  • Loupe view (keyboard shortcut: E)
Loupe View Lightroom
Loupe View Lightroom

In this view, you can view an entire photo or zoom in to see part of the photo.

Note: Zoom in to photos by using the options on the right of the Navigator panel (Navigator panel is on the left-hand side of the screen, at the top).

  • Compare view (keyboard shortcut: C)
Compare View Lightroom
Compare View Lightroom

This view shows two photos side by side, allowing you to compare them and choose the best one.

  • Survey view (keyboard shortcut: N)
Survey View Lightroom
Survey View Lightroom

This view shows the active photo along with all the selected photos on the same screen for you to compare them. (You can select more than one photo, but only one photo will be the active photo which will have a selection border).

Organize photos in Lightroom

  1. Give ratings to photos in Lightroom

You can rate your photos by giving zero to five stars and view them using any view of the Library Module.

Grid view: Select one or more photos, right click on any one of the photos – click Set Rating then select a rating that you want to give to the photos.

How to rate photos in Lightroom
How to rate photos in Lightroom

Loupe view/ Compare view/ Survey view: Select only one photo in the Filmstrip (Filmstrip is at the bottom of the screen) in either Loupe, Compare, or Survey view, then right click on the photo – click Set Rating then select a rating that you want to give to the photo. If you select more than one photo in the Filmstrip in any of these views, the rating will be given only to the active photo.

To see & work on the photos you’ve rated in Lightroom: On the right side of the screen at the bottom – Click on Filters off and select Rated. Click on the number of stars (on the left of Rated), say you click 4 stars, then it will display all the photos that you’ve rated 4 stars & above. After you’ve finished working on the photos, you can select Filters off.

2. Flag photos in Lightroom

Flags indicate whether you’ve picked or rejected a photo. You can flag your photos using any view of the Library Module.

Grid view: Select one or more photos, right click on any one of the photos – click Set Flag then select Flagged or Rejected to pick or reject the photos.

How to Flag photos in Lightroom
How to Flag photos in Lightroom

Loupe view/ Survey view: Select only one photo in the Filmstrip in either Loup or Survey view, then right click on the photo – click Set Flag then select Flagged or Rejected to pick or reject the photos. If you select more than one photo in the Filmstrip in any of these views, the flag or rejection will be applied only to the active photo.

To see & work on the photos you’ve flagged in Lightroom: On the right side of the screen at the bottom – Click on Filters off and select Flagged. Then, all the flagged photos will be displayed on the screen/Filmstrip. After you’ve finished working on the photos, you can select Filters off.

3. Assign colour labels to photos in Lightroom

You can assign a certain colour to your photos as per your choice in the Library Module. For instance, you can assign blue colour to photos where you need to work on the white balance.

Grid view: Select one or more photos, right click on any one of the photos – click Set Color Label then select the colour you want to assign the photos.

Loupe view/ Survey view: Select only one photo in the Filmstrip in either Loup or Survey view, right click on any one of the photos – click Set Color Label then select the colour you want to assign the photos. If more than one photo is selected in the Filmstrip in Loupe/Survey view, the colour label will be assigned only to the active photo.

To see & work on the photos you’ve assigned Color Label in Lightroom: Click on Filter (on the right side of the screen at the bottom) to see all the Filters. Then, click on the blue colour (show photos with Blue Label) – all the photos with Blue Label will be displayed on the screen/Filmstrip. After you’ve finished working on the photos, you can select Filters off.

4. Stack photos in Lightroom

In the Library Module, you can use stacking when you want to group/keep a set of similar looking photos together in one place without having them scattered across rows of thumbnails. For instance, stacking can be helpful to group photos where you had used continuous shooting mode since all the photos would be visually similar.

How to Stack photos in Lightroom
How to Stack photos in Lightroom

To stack photos, they must be in the same folder/collection. Grid view: Select all the photos you need to stack, right click on any one of the photos – click Stacking, then select Group into Stack. You will see the stacking order numbers in the upper-left corner of their thumbnail(s); top photo in the stack will be 1, the next photo will be 2, and so on.

To see all the photos in a stack, you need to expand the stack. Grid view: Right click on the stack you want to expand, select Stacking, then select Expand Stack.

To collapse a stack, you need to right click on any photo of the stack in Grid view, select Stacking, then select Collapse Stack.

5. Add keywords to photos in Lightroom

Adding keywords to photos in the Library Module will help you easily locate your photos.

Grid view: Select the photos to which you need to add the keyword(s), then type the keyword(s) in the box below ‘Enter Keywords’ on the right-hand side of the screen (enter keywords separated by commas). For more keyword ideas, select a category from the drop down (on the right of the Keyword Set, I’ve selected Outdoor Photography), then select from the keywords that display below it (I’ve selected Flowers & Plants).

How to Add keywords to photos in Lightroom
How to Add keywords to photos in Lightroom

Loupe view/ Compare view/ Survey view: Select only one photo in the Filmstrip in Loupe/ Compare/ Survey view, then type the keywords in the box below ‘Enter Keywords’ on the right-hand side of the screen (enter keywords separated by commas). For more keyword ideas, select a category from the drop down (on the right of the Keyword Set), then select from the keywords that display below it. If you’ve selected more than one photo in the Filmstrip, the keywords will be assigned only to the active photo.

Note: The keywords that you add to the photos will be stored only in Lightroom.

To locate the photos later, in Keyword List – select the keyword you’d assigned in Grid view – you’ll see photos with that keyword highlighted with a selection border.

6. Add metadata to photos in Lightroom

Adding metadata to photos in the Library Module means you can add details like your (photographer’s) name, copyright information etc.

Grid view: Select the photo(s) to which you need to add metadata, then type the details in the metadata text boxes in the Metadata panel (on the right-hand side of the screen below Keyword List).

(To add copyright symbol © : Press alt+0169; note: press 0169 from numeric pad which is on the right side of the keyboard; when you release the alt key, the copyright symbol will appear on the screen).  

Loupe view/ Compare view/ Survey view: Select only one photo in the Filmstrip in Loupe/ Compare/ Survey view, then type the details in the metadata text boxes in the Metadata panel (on the right-hand side of the screen below Keyword List. If you’ve selected more than one photo in the Filmstrip, the metadata will be assigned only to the active photo.

Using synchronize metadata will allow you to add metadata from a selected photo to other photos without having to type the metadata for other photos. Select a photo (which will be the active photo) in the Grid view that contains metadata that you want other photos to synchronize with. Next, select the photos that needs to be synchronized with the active photo. Then, select Sync Metadata (which is at the bottom on the right-hand screen). Next, check the box of the metadata (I’ve checked IPTC Copyright). Then, click Synchronize. Remember, the metadata you choose for synchronizing will overwrite any existing metadata in the selected photos.

How to Synchronize metadata in Lightroom
How to Synchronize metadata in Lightroom

Once you have a basic understanding of Lightroom, you can further explore and use Lightroom to better organise, edit and export your photographs. In the next blog, we will cover Lightroom Editing using the Develop Module.

Click on the below Image to see the Comic in which the Camera explains Jo how to organize photos in Lightroom with the help of practical examples

How to Import, View, Organize Photos in Lightroom

When you do photography: Remember the 5E’s – Explore, Experiment, Experience, Enjoy & Express to develop your own style as a photographer.

Do Share The Learning – Like It, Post It, Pin It, Tweet It!

Have any tips on how to use Library Module of Lightroom? Do share them in the comment box below.

Did this blog help you with some ideas to improve your photography skills? For more useful photography tips, examples, ideas & inspiration, please subscribe below to receive notifications of new blog posts by email. Thank you!