Import Deep Dive for Lightroom Classic



This is a deep dive into importing your images into Lightroom Classic.

You’ll learn everything you need to know about getting your images inside of Lightroom, including tips for improving your productivity and speeding up Lightroom based on your selections. Then I’ll share some pro tips for organizing your images. If you’re ready, let’s do it.

To import your images, you’re gonna navigate to the library module and click on this import button down here.

And then, you’ll be presented with this new window with three main columns.

On the left side is the source that you’re gonna tell Lightroom to import the images from, and the center will be a preview of those files.

And then, on the right side, you will have some options you can select before you import that can help you streamline your workflow and improve your productivity.

And we’ll go over all of that information.

And of course, your options here depend on the options you select. And we’re gonna talk all about these options here as well.

Let’s start with the source and dig a little deeper into the source section because there’s something critical that you need to do before you begin importing your images.

And that’s creating a folder and file naming structure that you can utilize consistently as you work with Lightroom Classic.

Because if you don’t have a structure in place and you change a folder and or file name outside of Lightroom, you’re going to create some problems in Lightroom. And specifically, you won’t be able to edit or organize your images if you change that name outside of Lightroom.


The source is telling Lightroom, okay, my images live exactly in this folder, with this name, and these are the file names.

So there’s a link between that folder and Lightroom.

And if that link is broken because you changed the name, you won’t be able to do anything in Lightroom until you relink all that information back into Lightroom. Let me give you a couple of options here for a folder and file naming structure.


For this catalog, my Landscape and Wildlife catalog here, I created this a few months ago, and I did a simple naming structure of locations for the folder names.

And then, inside the folder, I just have a specific number with the name of that location.

So a very simple naming structure. I created a more complex naming structure for my wedding and portrait photography business.


And you can see here I have my wedding catalog. Inside the master file, I have a portraits folder and stock photos I’ve created in a weddings folder.

Inside the weddings folder, you will see different folders by year.

And then inside of that, I have different folders for the name of the client, as well as additional folders inside of that that show the type of file format, in this case, D n G. And then tweaks are files that I did some creative edits to.

And then, I have a specific file naming structure for those.

So you have to think a bit about the naming structure you want to use.

And then, you can begin importing your images knowing that you won’t have any problems in the future unless you rename those files and folders or move them to another location or hard drive.


All right, so let’s go back inside the import dialogue here and look at some of the other options.

On the source side, Lightroom will recognize all the hard drives connected to your computer.

So I have my internal drive here, plus three external drives that I can use as a source to import files from.

Now, if I take my media card here and I connect this to my computer, Lightroom will automatically detect that new device, and then I can use that as a source to import files.

Now at this time, all those files are grayed out, and that’s because these files have already been imported into Lightroom.

And if we go to file handling here, there’s an option that says don’t import, suspected duplicate.

So if I turn this off, I can import those files again.

But I recommend turning this on so you don’t accidentally import duplicate files.

Now if for some reason you are not seeing any images, or if Lightroom says no photos found, that’s because you need to turn on, include subfolders if you’re selecting a folder at the top of the hierarchy with one or more subfolders inside.

So if I click on this folder here, it will say no photos, but when I click on include subfolders, it will find all the files in each folder.

I will click on this folder here so it stops updating that preview.


Now, we have some options up here, and each one will depend on your workflow and what works best for you. Now, the first option here is to copy as DNG.

So what it’s going to do is it’s gonna take the files inside of this folder, and it’s going to create a D N G file of each original RAW file and import only the DNG file.

So we need to tell Lightroom the destination where those D N G files should be created.

And we can click on destination here to select where Lightroom should copy those D N G files too.

Now, if you’re not familiar with D N G files, they are a file format for raw photos, and they have some benefits and disadvantages versus regular raw files.

And if you want to learn more about that, let me know in the comments below.

So in the destination panel, we have a few different options.

The first option is to place them into a custom subfolder with a name of your choice. And you have some options to organize by folders or by date.


Now, if you’re not going to create a DNG file, you can copy the files from your source and place them into another destination, and those files that are copied will be imported into Lightroom.

The source could be an external hard drive, and the destination could be your internal hard drive.

The MOVE OPTION is taking the images from your external and moving them based on your Destination, and those files in that new location will be imported.


Now my preferred method is to add, and that’s basically taking the images on my media card and attaching them to my computer. Then I will transfer those files from the media card to my internal hard drive in my desired location before I get into Lightroom.

And then, once I get into Lightroom, all I have to do is click on add to select the source of my import, and then we don’t have those other two options because we don’t need a destination since it’s already there.

Let’s look at applying during import and file handling because this will help you improve your productivity and workflow and speed things up for you.

Because they can alter your experience with Lightroom and make it more productive.


And the options for building Previews can speed up reviewing your images in the Library Module and others. So, there are four main types of Previews that you can build during import.

And remember you’re not importing the original RAW file as we discussed in the previous tutorial, instead, you’re seeing a preview of the original. But, we need to let Lightroom know what size of preview to create, and each has its advantages and disadvantages.

The Minimal preview is the smallest and fastest preview for Lightroom to create. This means your images will be imported faster compared to the other options. However, remember that the quality of these previews is not good and will be best for viewing your images in Grid view.

If you want to review your images in Loupe view or zoom in, Lightroom will need to create a higher-quality preview before you can view the fine details of your image.

The Embedded & Sidecar Previews tell Lightroom Classic to use the JPG Preview built into the RAW file if it exists. So, if you want to import your images the fastest way possible that gives you a Preview that’s good enough to view in the Library Module, select this.


let you view photos in Loupe View since they’re of a higher quality but are not large enough for you to zoom in to, and again like Minimal Lightroom will need to create higher quality previews.

The best quality Previews are 1:1, but they also take the longest to build, and it will take much longer for your images to import. Plus, the files are very large compared to the other three and will take up a lot of hard drive space.

The benefit of these is not having to wait for Lightroom to Load the new preview since it’s already been created during import.


The next type of Preview is called Smart Previews, which allows you to work with your images in Lightroom Classic when the original RAW files are missing.

So, remember earlier, I mentioned that Lightroom needs a link to the original RAW files, and if you rename anything, that link is broken.

You can also break that link if your RAW files are on an external hard drive and you disconnect it. So, let’s say you’re editing on a laptop, and you go on vacation, but you forget your external hard drive. Well, if you have images on that drive you wanted to work on while traveling, you can’t since the link was broken.

However, if you create Smart Previews, Lightroom won’t need that link to the external drive to be connected. This means you’ll be able to edit those files even though the link is broken.

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