9 Simple Steps to Import Your Images Into Lightroom

Importing Your Images

One of the most important steps in your Lightroom workflow is to Import your images into a folder on your hard drive whilst at the same time adding them to your Lightroom catalog. Taking the time to Import your images correctly will ensure your image Library will be organised and easy to manage. Importing images also seems to be source of great frustration for many users, getting tripped up between file names, folders and subfolders, not to mention the numerous other features such as Keywords, Metadata and Preview sizes to name a few.

In this post I want to focus on 9 basic steps for importing your images into an organised folder structure. Of course, like many aspects of Lightroom, there are numerous ways to complete the various processes and different photographers will have different preferences for how to do things in Lightroom. I have found that these 9 basics steps for Importing work well for a majority of participants in my Lightroom Workshops and one-on-one mentoring. 

Step 1.  – Press the Import Button in the bottom left hand corner of the Library Module to enter the Import Module.

Step 2.  – Select the source of the images that you would like to Import. This is accomplished in the left hand column of the Import Module. The source of your images is usually the camera’s SD card you have inserted into your card reader.









Step 3.  – Select the individual images that you wish to import. By default, all the images in the source will be selected. Any image that has a tick in the little box in the top right hand corner of each of the thumbnails will be imported. Ensure that each image you want to import is ticked.






Step 4.  – Choose what you would like to do with the selected images. As this is a Basic Import tutorial I will not go through each of the individual options – we will simply select Copy from the four available choices. By choosing Copy, Lightroom will copy each of the individual images you have selected.




Now that we have selected the source of the images, selected the individual images that we want to import and instructed Lightroom to Copy the selected images, we now need to inform Lightroom of where we want it to Import the images too and any other actions we would like Lightroom to perform when importing. This is performed in the Right Hand Column of the Import Module.

Step 5.  – Select the File Handling actions. In this section we are going to keep things simple and select Minimal in the Build Previews field. This will keep your thumbnail images in Lightroom at a smaller size and keep the overall size of your Lightroom Catalog smaller and taking up less space on your hard Drive.

Also tick the Don’t Import Selected Duplicate box. Ticking this box will prevent Lightroom from importing any image that you have already imported into Lightroom.









Step 6. – Rename your images when Importing. Just as with keywords, taking the time to rename your images when importing is an important step in assisting you to keep all of your images organised and easy to find once they are in Lightroom. To instruct Lightroom to rename your images while importing – tick the Rename Files box.

There are many different File Name Templates that you can choose from to format your file names, but to keep things simple, I recommend selecting Custom Name – Sequence as your template.

The Custom Text field is where you type the File Name that you would like to apply to the images. Don’t make this too big or too complex, just select a file name that easily identifies the subject of the images.

If you want to change the Start Number of the file name. Usually this will be set to 1. You can change the number in the Start Number field – for example, you are importing images of clouds but you have already previously imported 25 images of clouds – you would type Clouds in the Custom Text field and change the Start Number to 26, so the first image to be imported would be named Clouds26 and pick up where your previous import left off.

Leave the Extensions field set to Leave as-is.







Step 7.  – Add Keywords (optional). The Apply During Import panel is where we can add some keywords to our images when importing them. Adding Keywords is highly recommend to assist in managing and finding your images once they have been imported into Lightroom. Its important to understand that any keywords you add here will be applied to every image that will be imported. As such you need to only add keywords that apply to every image that will be imported.

You can add multiple keywords by adding a comma after each of the keywords.






Step 8.
  – Setting the Destination of where we want Lightroom to actually Import the images to. This is perhaps one of the most critical steps in the Import process and one where most people seem to come unstuck.

Before you can choose the Destination of where to import your images to, you have to have previously considered how you want to organise your images on your Hard drive. In the example of our Basic Importing process, all of the images that we import will go into a Subfolder that will be placed in our main photo folder – 2017 which is where we place all of the images for the current year.

To begin this step, tick the Into Subfolder box. Then enter the name of the subfolder that you want to create in the field next to Into Subfolder. In most cases the name of the subfolder will be the same as the File Name you selected in Step 7. Simply use a subfolder name that identifies the images or the photo shoot that will be imported.

It is very important to ensure that the Organise field is set to Into One Folder. This ensures that the subfolder that will be created will use the name you entered and not simply create folders by the Date the images were taken.

Now that we have ticked the Into Subfolder box, entered the name of the subfolder we want to create and told Lightroom to Organise the images Into One Folder, we now need to instruct Lightroom where to put the new Subfolder.

As I previously identified – I organise all of my image subfolders into a main folder that is named after the current year – in this case – 2017. So, to instruct Lightroom to add the new subfolder into my 2017 folder, I simply click on the 2017 folder to highlight it as shown in the example.

If you have done everything correct in this step, you should now see a greyed out subfolder with the subfolder name you entered with a little PLUS symbol next to it. This new subfolder should also be located within the main folder your highlighted (2017).

Step 9. –  Hit the Import Button. Once you have verified the greyed out subfolder with the plus symbol is in the correct location you are ready to hit the Import Button in the bottom right hand corner and start the importing process.

Make future Imports even easier

Once you have taken the time to set the Import Module up using the basic steps outlined in this blog, you can make future Imports even easier by saving your settings as a preset. You will find the Import Presets at the bottom of the Import Module. Click on the arrows to open the drop down menu and select Save Current Settings as New Preset. Give your new preset a name and hit Create. Next time you Import images select the Preset to simplify the process even more. 

Once you’re comfortable with these 9 basic steps for importing your images, you can explore some of the more advanced functionality of the Import Module to take advantage of the full functionality of Lightroom. 

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Brian Bird
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