I totally agree with Matt’s points. I hear criticisms of Lightroom which I believe are because new users try the things Matt mentions when starting to use Lightroom. When they go down one of these paths they become frustrated because Lightroom didn’t work for them. A great example is moving images outside of Lightroom. Once you commit to using Lightroom to organize your images if you manually organize outside of Lightroom it is not going to be looking at the same information as before. Of course it won’t work right! My advice to new users is read up on how Lightroom works and study advice from folks like Matt.
In my Ligtroom Catalog this image lives in the Photos folder on my storage drive. It has the following keywords which will help me find it
in the future: 2013 06/01 CMR Photo Freight, Cars, Signal. It also lives in a collection called Blur which helps me identify motion blur images.
To Matt’s list I’d add some items which are to some extent corollaries to Matt’s comments but apply to the railfan community.
Organizing By Rail Artifact
Just like organizing by date, I don’t recommend organizing your images files into a folder system based on a rail artifact like subdivision name, station name, railroad, locomotive model, or locomotive manufacturer. Once you go down the path of organizing this way you will tend to use the folder structure you created to search for things. Doing that defeats the purpose of having a robust organizing tool like Lightroom. Instead I recommend all the original images are placed into a single folder and Lightroom keywords are used to categorize by your favorite rail artifact data. Inside of Lightroom you not only would have access to search the keywords you assigned, but you’d also have an indication of which images are your picks (flags, colors, stars), and the metadata associated to the image.
If you organize images by a rail artifact today transitioning inside of Lightroom to keywords is pretty straightforward and quick. I would import the photos using the folder structure you have today. If you organized by station name, click on the station name folder under Folders on the left side, do Ctrl/Cmd-A to select all the images, then add a keyword for the station name on the right side under Keywording. Lastly move all of the images to the new folder structure. Done!
In my catalog I keyword every image with an event (why I was shooting) and keywords which tell me more about what
is in an image. Railroad images which include a locomotive are key worded with a locomotive number.
I’ve heard many railfans rename their files to include information about the photo. For example “4449_AMTK51_trip_to _bend_taken_at_moody_oregon.jpg”. File names are not the best way to convey meta data like this. There are too few characters and if you forget your naming standard suddenly there is no consistency so finding something becomes even more difficult. Instead I recommend keeping the file name as simple as possible. For the longest time I continued to use the file name assigned by the camera. As Lightroom detected duplicates it appended a -# (e.g. IMG-0001-5.cr2). That was fine but I wanted it a bit cleaner so I added the d
ate and time of capture to the file name to keep each file name unique. There are many different schemes for this so I’m not saying mine is the best way. My though is pick a naming convention that keeps the file names relatively unique and doesn’t include caption or keyword information.
All of my images have a modified filename which includes the date and original file name.
Those are my thoughts on organizing in Lightroom. If any of you railfans would like my thoughts on your personal situation or catalog, drop me an email. I’d love to get you started in the right direction.