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How to Use Lightroom Collections

October 13, 2020

Lightroom is a beast to learn how to use. Now, it’s not PhotoShop level, but pretty much any Adobe software is pretty intricate with a ton of capabilities. While this particular blog post does not go into all the minute details of how to edit photos, it will go over how to organize them.


When I first started using Lightroom, I didn’t know what a Catalog was…which is fine. I eventually learned and it has made my life much easier and more organized. For those that don’t know, a Lightroom Catalog is basically a group of photos. How you organize those photos is up to you. I start a new Catalog for each session, while others have Catalogs for each month of the year or each individual client if they are shooting them multiple times. You have to figure out what works best for you.


Once you establish how you’d like to set up your Catalog, you are able to create “Collections” within a catalog. A collection is just that–a collection of images that is a subset of the larger Catalog. Now…why would you want to split up a Catalog into smaller Collections, you may ask…


I do it for two reasons:

  1. It helps me mentally feel like I have less to edit when I am tackling a wedding that consists of 1,000+ images. Editing 50 “Detail” images, 66 ceremony images, and 200 reception images seems less daunting than editing 316 images…right?
    • Note: I did this in college with long term papers too. I would write my outline, open up a different topic for each document, and essentially write a mini-paper for each topic, then put them all together again and add transitions. It’s clearly a mental game for me!
  2. It makes batch editing suuuuper easy! Typically throughout a wedding day, each “scenario” (getting ready, ceremony, family formals, reception, etc.) has a relatively consistent lighting scenario. I can edit a few blog images, then Sync all the rest of the images in that Collection to allow for quicker editing (and, therefore, quicker delivery) times.

Now…how to set up a collection!

  1. Locate the Collections section in Lightroom. It is on the left-hand side of the Develop screen, all the way down at the bottom (below your presets, if you have any!).
  1. Click the “+” button to create a Collection.
  2. Title your Collection.
    • Note: These Collections are from our personal images. I organize those by month! For a wedding day, my standard Collection categories are:
      • Getting Ready Ladies
      • Getting Ready Gentlemen
      • Details
      • First Look
      • Ceremony
      • Family Formals
      • Bride & Groom Portraits
      • Bridal Party
      • Reception Events (Toasts, Dances, etc.)
      • Reception
  3. To add images to your Collections, you can go through and select all the images that belong in said Collection and drag and drop them into the Collection folder.
    • Note: This is also how I upload them into the client’s online gallery, so they are nice and organized as they look through their wedding day images.

Lastly, I want to note that you can still view ALL photographs within the catalog if you would like to do so! Simply go down to the bar with all the images and just above there, you will see which Collection is currently selected. View all photographs by clicking “All Photographs.” This may seem simple, but I was stumped on that for a while…no shame!

If you have more questions about Lightroom, I am happy to help in any way that I can! If you’re interested in organizing your files on your computer/hard drive and would like to know how I do mine, you can access that in the “File & Lightroom Organization” module of The Photography Framework Shop, which can be found here!

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