Lightroom CC: Import maintaining folder structure

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As I've spent years sorting all of my photographs out into folders and sub-folders I naturally want to maintain that in Lightroom CC.

How can I import hundreds of different folders and sub-folders into Lightroom CC and maintain their structure?

Even when importing from an existing Lightroom Classic Catalog, there doesn't seem to be a way to automatically maintain the folder structure.

I don't want to add 50,000+ photographs and have to re-organise them

Any thoughts ??
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Sean Clarke

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Posted 9 months ago

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Victoria Bampton - Lightroom Queen, Champion

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The trick is to drag the folders down to the Collections panel in Classic before migrating, so it creates collections of all your folders. There might be a bit of tidying up to do, depending on your folder structure, but it saves a lot of the work.

Just double check that LRCC will have all the features you need before you migrate - you don't HAVE to migrate at this point.
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Sean Clarke

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OK - i'll give that a try.

Is there a way to add folders of images to Lightroom CC?

Drag and drop a folder, where it creates a folder or album in CC and adds the photos as well.
Rather than have to create a folder, than add the photos.... slowly.....
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Victoria Bampton - Lightroom Queen, Champion

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I'm not 100% sure I'm following the question, but when adding new photos to LRCC, you can create an album at the top of the Add Photos dialog. Did I miss the point?
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Sean Clarke

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Let me explain.

The hard way: right click, create a folder, type in the name, click add photos, browse to where the new photos are, drag them in, approve them for review, wait.

The easy way: drag and drop a folder with photos onto Lightroom CC - it then creates a folder with the same name, imports the photos, done
The easy way: click add photos, choose a folder, photos get added

Sadly I don;t think the easy ways exist.
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ImTheOneDziubson

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I am just evaluating CC but this is a showstopper to me. I cannot afford to recreate my folders' structure - that should be a basic step in this software.
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Laura Britton

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I'm having the same problem, and I seriously CANNOT BELIEVE that Adobe would expect professional photographers (their main user population for Lightroom) to go through and manually recreate hundreds of folders. I have folders that have 4 and 5 levels of sub-folders containing thousands of photos -- each of which was painstakingly named at the time of their creation.  

Dragging them into collections seems easy, but it still requires that I manually do each subfolder as a collection within a collection set.  Plus, I can't tell whether Lightroom CC will migrate the newly created collections as collections or as folders, albums or what. I want them to be folders, not collections. 

I just spent 30 minutes on the phone with a support tech and nearly started crying at the end. If there is not a simple way to migrate (or import directly from my hard drive into CC) my folder structure, I won't be able to use CC any time in the near future. It will take me WEEKS of doing nothing but creating folders and importing the photos one folder at a time. I *need* to be able to use Lightroom CC so that I can edit from my desktop or my laptop while traveling, but I don't have weeks to dedicate to this process.

If Classic could import folders from my hard drive so intelligently, why can't the product that is supposed to be an improvement on Classic do that? 

Somebody please tell me there's a way.
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Laura Britton

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Hi, Victoria. Thanks for helping me sort this out. I don't know all of Lr's features, so it may be that my system is totally convoluted. I'm happy to hear suggestions.

I use Lr to organize and do basic edits to all of my photos, then do more specialized editing in Photoshop as needed. I do most of my editing on my 27" iMac, but sometimes need to edit on my MacBook. This requires that I use an external hard drive to store my originals, because I have to move it back and forth between the two. I never edit on a mobile device; my iPad is too old to make that workable.

Workflow:

  • When I have new photos on a memory card, I use Copy/Add to import them into Lr and copy them to folders on my hard drive.
  •  Within each of my main folders, I have dozens of subfolders, each of which can have dozens more -- sometimes 8-10 layers deep.  Here is an example of the minimum I end up with for just one event:
          20171118. IL State Fair
                   20171118. IL State Fair. unedited
                   20171118. IL State Fair. edited
                   20171118. IL State Fair. edited watermarked
  • I use star ratings to sort my photos and indicate the stages of editing until they are fully completed and ready to export into the two edited folders.
  • For my client jobs, once they are done I upload their photos to albums on PhotoShelter. That typically happens very close to the event itself -- always within a week.
  • BUT I mix in working on my personal projects as I have time and inclination. I don't need access to every single old photo I have at all times, but it would be nice.

Problems with that setup:
  • I hate the risk inherent to carrying around so many original files.
  • I desperately need to use a cloud-based service (like Backblaze) as a triple backup, but that works only if I keep the hard drive plugged into my desktop so that the files can be synched periodically. That means I have to have one location with enough storage for all of my originals, and can't keep unplugging an external drive to move it back and forth.

I changed my Adobe subscription so that I would have Lr CC with 2TB of storage. I thought I would be able to import my photos in their existing folder structure, as I was able to do with Classic. Then I would have access to the smart previews anywhere and could edit as needed. BUT, If I have to go into CC and create a new album/folder for each folder and subfolder that I have currently, then there is no point in me having the subscription because I'll never have time to do that. I have upwards of 50,000 photos.

Is there a way I can use the Adobe services to which I have access to streamline my workflow and have cloud-based access, while still being able to use the expanded functionality of Classic and store my originals where they can auto-backup to a third storage?

I'm not sure if this answers your question enough. Let me know if you need more info. Thanks again.

Laura
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Victoria Bampton - Lightroom Queen, Champion

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When you're editing on your MacBook, are you just in Lightroom, or do you need to switch to Photoshop on that one too?  Just Develop type editing? And I'm guessing you know in advance which jobs you're likely to want access to on the MacBook? There's a few ideas that come to mine (I documented them in my book), but I just want to make sure I recommend the best one for you.
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Laura Britton

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I do use Photoshop some on my MacBook -- usually for intermediate edits that I find cumbersome in Lr. Any of my fine art images that will require extensive editing, I do on my desktop.

Yes, I do usually know in advance what I'll want to edit, but not 100% of the time. And I occasionally need to access old originals even when I don't need to edit them. For example, I was at a conference recently and realized that I should quickly print some of my older work to create a separate portfolio than the one I had already brought with me; a reviewer asked to see more than I had brought printed. 
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Victoria Bampton - Lightroom Queen, Champion

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Hi Laura, sorry for the delay getting back to you. It's been one of those weeks!

There's not an easy clean solution here. They technology's just not reached that point yet. Thoughts that spring to mind:
  • If you only needed 2560px smart previews, I'd say sync the collections you're going to need from the Classic catalog and put CC on your laptop for editing. That's the clean automatic simple route, but wouldn't give you full res on your laptop, so Photoshop editing would be out.
  • If LRCC has all the tools you need, apart from folder management, this might be a silly idea, but have you considered employing a teenager for a few hours to do the work of converting your folder structure into an album structure? It's a one-time job, as you'd put new photos directly into CC, so would be the cleanest solution.
  • There are very unofficial workarounds for getting originals to the Adobe cloud and continuing to use Classic, but they'd still require you to rebuild your folder structure as albums/folders.
  • Otherwise, you're down to non-Adobe-cloud solutions, like putting the catalog and photos on an external drive, and using file sync software (like Chronosync) to keep it copied back another external drive permanently hooked up to your iMac, so it can get into your Backblaze backup and you're not risking your originals by carrying around your only copy. 
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Selondon

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If you do decide to rebuild you Folder/Album structure in LrCC Laura, you could also use an iPad/iPhone if you have one. Apart from being able to organise away from the computer, they also have a ‘Move To’ function that LrCC doesn’t seem to have yet. (I assume the Android app has this as well).
50,000 is a lot though!
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Gregory Wasserman

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It would be great if CC were also able to store local copies in a folder structure of our choice as opposed to just one folder or folders by date.
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Casi Bowes

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Hey, so I'm not sure if this helps your situation enough but I've just been dealing with this issue as I had to get a new external hard drive and try and reorganize my whole lightroom around it.

I found that when I'm in the import dialog and you click on a parent folder and click "include sub-folders" it tends to just import every single photo under the parent into one single folder in LR basically discarding any sub folders you've created.

But! I figured out that if you make sure you highlight every folder including the the parent and all sub folders underneath it on the left panel, while having "include sub-folders" still activated, when you import it will actually import the entire folder structure exactly the way you have set it out on your hard drive. 

Maybe give this a go :)
Hope it helps! 
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Victoria Bampton - Lightroom Queen, Champion

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Sounds like you might be using Lightroom Classic Casi? This is a request for the new LR CC app instead. (Don't worry, everyone's confused by the silly naming!)
(Edited)
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Casi Bowes

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I just figured I downloaded it out of the creative cloud suite and it said CC 2015 up the top that it was the same. I'm so confused! Hahahaha *palms face*
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Casi Bowes

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If I ended up updating eventually would I lose this feature?
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Victoria Bampton - Lightroom Queen, Champion

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LOL I know, it's confusing everyone. CC 2015 was the version released in 2015 and updated until recently. When you come to update, Lightroom Classic is the one you want.

In the Destination panel of the Import dialog, check whether you have it set the "into one folder" or "by original folders". That's probably the cause of the oddities you're seeing.
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Casi Bowes

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Ahaah! Thanks so much for your help. They did make the naming super confusing -_- 
I'll be sure to keep Classic - Losing this feature is likely to upset me lol. 
Cheers!
Cass. 
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Siarhei Shauchenka

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Our prayers have been answered! The latest update adds a right-click menu on a folder to create a collection from it. If the folder contains subfolders, there's even an option to create a collection set from it, and auto-populate it with collections for each of the subfolders. Well done, Adobe!
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Brett T. Bawden

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I am not seeing the right click option. I am using a Mac, and tried command+click but still didn't see an option to create a collection. Are you using a PC or Mac?
Thanks!
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Victoria Bampton - Lightroom Queen, Champion

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Brett, it's in the Lightroom Classic 7.2 or 7.3 Folders panel. You right-click/Cmd-click on the folder and it's in that context-sensitive menu.