Infographic - How to Import Photos Into Lightroom & Create a Backup

As a wedding photographer, you probably use Adobe Lightroom for a number of post-production tasks such as culling and color correcting. But in order to carry out those tasks, you first need to import images into Lightroom. And while importing photos into Lightroom might seem easy, to avoid any errors and eliminate confusion, it’s important to know the right steps to take. Since there are many ways to go about this process, in this blog, we take you through the different steps of how to import photos into Lightroom and create a back-up. You will be a pro by the end of the post!

Quick Steps to Import Photos Into Lightroom

Lightroom is a catalog-based photo manager and post-processing tool. In order to start working on your wedding photos, you need to first import them into your catalog. Importing is a straightforward process done using the Import window.

To import photos:

  1. Launch Lightroom on your system
  2. Select Library from the options at the top right of the screen
  3. Click Import at the bottom of the left-side panel
  4. Choose the source from the Select a Source directory
  5. Select all the image files, or just the ones you want to import
  6. Complete the import by selecting Import from the three options on the bottom right of the screen.

You can also begin the import process by going to File → Import Photos and Video from the File menu in the top left of the screen.

Import quick button
Example images courtesy of @brandiallysephoto

Shortcut: Windows PC users can press Ctrl+Shift+I to begin importing, and Mac users can press CMD+Shift+I for the same. This will open the Import window for you.

Detailed Steps for How to Import Photos into Lightroom

1. Understand the Import Window Structure

Lightroom Import begins with importing photos into your catalog. You can do so from your computer, your phone, your camera, or a memory card. We discuss importing below in more detail.

First, you need to select the source from where you will be importing the photos. The images you can import will be generated in thumbnail preview form in the middle section of the window. Select the images you want to import by check-marking on the ones you want to keep. You can also use the Check All or Uncheck All button to help with your selection. By default, Lightroom selects (with a check mark) all the available photos for import unless they have already been imported. Finally, specify extra information in the right-most section of the window. The tabs available in this window depend on the settings you selected in the first two steps. The File Handling and Apply During Import tabs will remain available in all cases.

Lightroom Import dialogue for importing photos from an SD card
Example images courtesy of @brandiallysephoto

Quick Tip: When you want to import photos to Lightroom from an SD card, you might need to manually select some images. But in this case, Lightroom will show you a much simpler Import dialogue. You either hit the arrow button at the bottom-left of the screen or press the Tab key on your keyboard.

2. Importing From External Sources

If you connect a memory card, an external drive, or a camera to your computer, Lightroom chooses it as a source directory. You can see all external devices in a separate list at the top of the Source tab. You can eject external storage devices as soon as the import process is over. To do that, mark the Eject after Import checkbox.

If there are no external devices to import from, go to the source directory manually. In this case, you will have an Include Subfolders checkbox option. Checking this box will display all images in the selected folder and the folders inside it.

3. More Tips on Selecting Photos to Import

Images check marked in the thumbnail preview screen in Lightroom
Example images courtesy of @brandiallysephoto

Once you have shown your image source to Lightroom, Lightroom will grey-out the photos that have already been imported, provided they are named identically. So, don’t worry about importing duplicates. At the bottom of the central section, you will find Check All or Uncheck All. Hold down the Alt key to toggle Check Videos and Uncheck Videos options instead.

In this selection process, you will also have some viewing options. Adjust the thumbnail size if you would like bigger previews as you select specific images to import. Please note that Lightroom will not render these in high quality. You can preview images in the Loupe View by double-clicking on them or hitting the E key. Loupe View means magnifying the image so that you can see only one at a time. You can hit G to get back to Grid View or double click again.

4. Specify Copy as DNG, Copy, Move or Add Photos

Copy as DNG, Copy, Move or Add Photos options located at the top of the screen
Example images courtesy of @brandiallysephoto

The Copy as DNG, Copy, Move or Add Photos options are located at the top of the screen, above the photos you are selecting for import, and allow you to specify the method of import. If you choose Copy as DNG, you get a copy of your images from the source directory at a specified location in Adobe’s DNG format. If you choose Copy, you get the pictures from the source directory to a specified location in their original file format. If you choose to Move the images, then the images in your source directory will move to your specified location. However, please note that this option is unavailable when importing from a memory card. If you choose Add, then the images are not copied or moved to a new location but simply added to your working Catalog. This option is also unavailable when importing from a memory card or USB flash drive.

5. File Handling

File Handling section of the Import dialogue
Example images courtesy of @brandiallysephoto

The File Handling section of the Import dialogue is found on your screen’s right-hand column and should be the last step you take before clicking Import for your files. This is also the one you need to spend the most time on. We break down the options below.

  • Build Previews: Here, you can specify the quality of the files that Lightroom will render in preview for your images.
  • Minimal uses the smallest previews embedded into the files by your camera. This is the quickest option and will take up the least disk space.
  • Standard will generate larger previews but can slow down your operational speed at first.
  • Embedded and Sidecar should be selected if you want Lightroom to use the highest quality embedded previews. It is a slightly slower process and has a high chance of taking more space on your hard drive. This process takes more time than the others but makes editing images faster.
  • 1:1 Previews are full-size images. You use them when you zoom in to larger magnifications, such as 100%. Rendering 1:1 previews take the most time when importing and also takes up the most disk space. But, it makes working with images even faster when done. This is a great setting for post-processing your photos.
  • Build Smart Previews: Selecting this option is useful if you prefer to keep your RAW files on an external drive. If you select this option, you can post-process your images even if they are not directly accessible at the time. Moreover, you will even be able to export them up to about 2540px, which is great for web sharing. Building Smart Previews takes up disk space as the Previews are stored along with your Catalog files, but this is a great option if you will be traveling with your laptop and want to be able to edit images without being connected to an external drive or don’t have the original files stored on your laptop.

6. Rename Files

File Renaming drop-down dialog box from the right-hand column and select Rename Files
Example images courtesy of @brandiallysephoto

You only get the option to rename files if you choose Copy/Copy as DNG or Move files on Import. While there are already several naming templates available, you can also create your own. File naming is helpful when you are organizing your photographs.

To begin Renaming, first, click on the File Renaming drop-down dialog box from the right-hand column and select Rename Files. Then choose a template from the drop-down list of available templates. If you want to create your renaming template at this point, select Edit from the Template drop-down menu. Now, customize your renaming structure in the white window. Then go to the Preset drop-down menu and select Save Current Settings as New Preset to save and use the template you have just created.

7. Apply During Import

Working with the Apply During Import feature
Example images courtesy of @brandiallysephoto

Working with the Apply During Import feature can be valuable for faster editing in Lightroom. Here are the details on the options you have available.

  • Selecting Develop Settings allows you to apply a preset to images upon import into your Library. You will see the result immediately of any option selected here once you click Import. You can only apply one Develop Preset on Import, which makes this setting best for B&W conversions. It’s good for color and tone adjustment presets too. Moreover, you can also set it to a Sharpening or Noise Reduction Preset.
  • Changing the Metadata to apply during import will help you add pertinent information to all your photos all at once. You can also create templates in this area so you can easily select the template each time. There is an additional keyword section in the Metadata template area, so you can add common keywords that might function across all your images here. But leave the specific keywording for the next step!
  • Adding relevant keywords in the Keyword section is very useful, especially when searching for specific photographs later, in Lightroom or other programs, or sorting them by keyword. Choose keywords that suit all the images you are about to import, such as event names. Do not apply keywords that are only appropriate for some of the pictures. You can edit all the keywords at any point after importing the images.
  • The Destination dialogue box lets you specify where images will be moved or copied to and is only available if you selected Copy/Copy as DNG or Move files on Import.

8. Create an Import Preset

Using Import Preset tool located at the very bottom middle of the Import window, beneath the thumbnail view of the photos
Example images courtesy of @brandiallysephoto

Once you have made all the changes you want to apply, before you click Import, you can save these settings as an Import Preset. To do that, use the Import Preset tool located at the very bottom middle of the Import window, beneath the thumbnail view of the photos.

Related Read: Importing Lightroom Presets

Back-Up Your Images

Infographic - Don't forget to back up your images no matter what

Backing up your images is as crucial as photographing them in the first place. You may have the best technology, but even that can sometimes prove to be unreliable, especially when it comes to storage. Creating a back-up for your pictures guarantees that your photographs remain safe on another device even if your system malfunctions. So, just to be extra careful and avoid any crisis, you should create a back-up for your images after importing them to Lightroom (or even before import). We would suggest that you follow the motto of ‘the sooner, the better’ when it comes to creating a back-up of your photos. Here are some simple ways to make sure your work stays safe from technological failures or human errors.

  • Store your original images on 2-3 external drives.
  • Keep syncing your back-up drives regularly so that you do not lose any data if you decide to update one of them.
  • Use Cloud back-up for extra security.
  • Upload your favorite or best images on your website or social media.

Further Read: How To Sync Lightroom Mobile

At ShootDotEdit, we believe in helping you develop skills that go beyond taking beautiful photographs. We also try to make your life easier by editing your photos exactly how you want them. To learn more about how we can help your wedding photography business, take a look at our pricing plans.

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