The process of importing photos to Lightroom is one of the main stumbling blocks for people who are just starting to learn the program. Why?
The first reason for that is because the program’s logic and workflow are different from traditional desktop programs like Microsoft Word, Excel, Photoshop, Paint and Illustrator. With the conventional workflow, you launch the application then go to File > Open to locate and open the file in order to start editing. Lightroom does not work this way and, as a result, it causes some confusion.
In Lightroom, there is no “Open” command, which means that you cannot open an image file in Lightroom by clicking on it. In Lightroom, you have to first create a Catalog and import a new image to Lightroom before you can start editing it.
The second reason is because the Import module in Lightroom has the most confusing User Interface in the entire Lightroom program. I love Lightroom’s usability as it is a huge leap forward compared to Photoshop because of its simplicity and logic but, for some inexplicable reason, the Import interface is the least intuitive of all.
The goal of this lesson is to show you the easiest way to bring new images to Lightroom so that you can concentrate on the most exciting task of photo editing: creating beautiful images.
Import: Step 1
Go to the directory structure for your photo library – the one you created in Lesson 2. Inside the appropriate YEAR directory, create a new folder and name it according to the following convention – 2017-01 Lightroom Mini Course – where the first four digits correspond to the current year and the next two digits correspond to the current month.
Import: Step 2
If you have an existing Lightroom Catalog, open it.
If not, you have to create one.
Go to File > New Catalog ...
Import: Step 3
After you opened the Catalog, from the top menu select File > Import Images and Videos.
Import: Step 4
Wait until the Import Module is open.
The Import Module has a gazillion different options and tools, which usually confuses and scares most new users. I will show you only the essential options you need to select in order to get your images into the catalog.
Import: Step 5
From the left panel, which is labeled SOURCE, select the location of the folder with the images you want to import. Using the file navigation from the SOURCE panel, locate the course package you downloaded and unzipped/extracted earlier.
If you missed this step, please download the demo package here and unzip/extract it to your computer in a location you will easily remember.
After you have selected the right image folder, you should see a preview of the image you intend to import in the center of the Import Module.
The images should be selected by default but, in case it is not, click the “Check All” button under the preview panel.
Import: Step 6
Now, you have to tell Lightroom how you want to import the new photo. From the top panel select the COPY option. This tells Lightroom to copy the selected image to the new location while keeping the original image in the initial location.
Import: Step 7
In the last step, you need to tell Lightroom what to do and where to copy the new image. From the right panel select the following options:
- We tell Lightroom to generate STANDARD size previews (Build Previews)
- We made sure that Lightroom does not import the same images again and again (Don’t Import Suspected Duplicates).
- We indicated what folder (the one we created in Step 1) we want new images to be copied (Destination).
- When you are done, simply press the IMPORT button in the lower right corner.
Next, Lightroom is going to close the Import Module and start the process of importing new photos. In our case, since we are importing only one new image, the process will be very fast. Sometimes, however, when I return from a trip with thousands of new images, it might take hours to import.
The import process takes time because for every new photo you intend to import, Lightroom needs to generate a preview image.
You have probably heard that, in contrast to Photoshop or other editing programs, Lightroom uses nondestructive editing. What this actually means is that you do not edit the actual images in Lightroom; instead, you only see the previews generated by the program which always leaves the original images untouched.
As you can see, the preview generation is the essential part of the Lightroom workflow. When I have a high number of photos to import, I often start the process late at night and go to bed. Once I wake up the next morning, the import is done and I am ready to start editing.
Exercise for this Lesson
Find some photos on your computer and practice the import process by following the same steps. The goal here is to be 100% comfortable in doing this on your own.
If you have any questions, please use the comment section below, I will be glad to assist you.