Lightroom Classic - help with setting up Collections for all my digital family photos

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I have just under 100,000 family photos (divided into different folders - family member's name) on an external hard drive. With all the photos I have collected, it is difficult to organize and to find pictures.  Plus it takes extreme lengths of time sorting through the photos.

I want to import all photos into Lightroom Classic on my Windows 10 64bit computer.  I need help designing a foundation that works with Lightroom and for me.  Ultimately, I guess I want a Collection/Smart Collection for each family member so I can find particular photos, and be able to continue to add new photos in the future.

I have 25 different family member (each has their own folder on the external hard drive).  I do have some videos in some of the family member's folders.

Any other suggestions that I might need to add to setting up my Lightroom are greatly appreciated.

Thank you in advance for your help in my request.
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Superprojb

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Posted 8 months ago

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Todd Shaner, Champion

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I recommend the below book by Peter Krogh. It's titled Lightroom 5, but applies fully to LR Classic. It will answer your current questions and those you haven't thought about yet.

http://thedambook.com/organizing-your-photos-with-lightroom-5/
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John R. Ellis, Champion

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I second Todd Shaner's recommendation.  But even more important: Use keywords, not collections, for identifying people, places, things, and events.  Searching by keyword is more powerful than by collections, and keywords can be written into the photos' metadata when you want to share the photos with other apps or Web sites or migrate to another app.
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Tim McMahon

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I agree in general with Todd and John re Peter Krogh's advice and using keywords.  However, Collections may be a very good way to go, especially if you have not already imported your photographs into lightroom's database.  If you have not, why not import them, one 'old' folder at a time, and assign all of the photographs imported each time to a collection with the appropriate family member's name.
I would, at the same time, allow Lightroom to move the original photogrphs into new folders by date as recommended by Krogh.  Then you have two sorting criteria established right off the bat.
I will bet that some of the photographs of family member X also have family member Y in them.  A great advantage of the collection approach is you can add those photos to collection 'Y' as well as collection 'X' without having to maintain copies of the actual image file in two places.  Because it's a much more 'visual' approach some people find collections easier to get their heads around than keyword heirarchies but, in any case, it's often easier to devise a keyword strategy when the initial sorting has been done in collections.
Jusy my 2¢
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Todd Shaner, Champion

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I agree in general with Todd and John re Peter Krogh's advice and using keywords.  However, Collections may be a very good way to go, especially if you have not already imported your photographs into lightroom's database.
There's a place for using BOTH Keywords and Collections. Keyword first and create Collections 2nd, which can be done by assigning a unique keyword and then using the keyword filter to isolate those image files. Much, much more in Peter Krogh's book on the subject!
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Superprojb

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Thank you for the quick replies.  

So... what is the better approach? Keyword, Collection, or both?

For Keyword, I would have to assign a keyword to each photo, one by one?
For Collection, I would have to select each photo, one by one?
This seems like the Keyword or Collection will be very labor intensive, due to working/assigning  each photo one by one.

What about using the facial recognition for a quicker automated process for the entire import?  I understand I have to validate Lightroom's facial interpretation, but at least there is some type of automation to help me. Right?

I would like to complete the import/sort build my Lightroom correct the first time... even if it does take time.

I mostly want to be able to find a photos by a person, persons, and date taken.

Thank you an advance for your help.
(Edited)
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Tim McMahon

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No.  Not image by image.  Select the whole bunch of images and assign a keyword, or drag them all to a collection.  That's why I suggested importing one family-member-folder at a time.  As each folder is imported, select all of the just imported images and assign the appropriate keyword or drag 'em all to the appropriate collection.  Actually, you can ask Lightroom to apply the keywords automatically as you import. Use 'Apply during import' in the right-hand panel of the import screen.
I've never bothered with facial recogniton so I can't help there.  
(Edited)
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john beardsworth

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So... what is the better approach? Keyword, Collection, or both?
Keywords to annotate and describe, collections to gather and use.

So use keywords to record whoever (or whatever) is in the photos. Then use collections to  group some photos that you want to find quickly in future, or for a slideshow or book, or photos that you want to work on, or whatever you want to do with them.
(Edited)
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Harrison Clark

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I tried these methods and concluded that my modest 3000 photos of family would never be seen by anyone but me unless I pared it down to a manageable size.  The younger set (my kids and grand kids) just aren't going to wading through history much at all let alone laboriously through thousands of photos.  I reduced the count to a few photos per event and a dozen or less per year per person, keeping only irresistible ones that I was sure somebody might stop and look at after I'm gone.  Maybe not what you wanted to hear, but the value of the better photos goes way up if they aren't buried in a pile of similar and lesser images.  It took a year but I think now there's a better chance my collection won't be dumped when I'm gone.
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Superprojb

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Thank you Harrison.
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John R. Ellis, Champion

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[View this post in your Web browser to see the screenshots]

"Because it's a much more 'visual' approach some people find collections easier to get their heads around than keyword hierarchies"

I've heard that said before, and I don't understand it. If anything, keywords are easier to work with than collections and more powerful. Perhaps after reading my comparison below, you can explain why collections are more "visual" for you.

Viewing the hierarchy: Similar

Collections and keywords both show you the hierarchy visually, with a count of the photos within each collection or keyword:

 

The Collections and Keyword List panels both have search boxes for finding collections or keywords.

Assigning collections / keywords: Keywords are easier

You can assign keywords by typing in the Keywording panel, with auto-complete making it faster. You can't assign collections by typing.

You can drag one or more photos to a collection or to a keyword.  But you can drag one or more keywords to photos, which you can't do with a collection.

You can designate a current target collection and then assign photos to it quickly by typing B. But with keywords, you can assign them quickly using the spray can in the toolbar or by using keyword sets. You can also select one or more photos and the check the squares to the left of the keywords:

 

Seeing collections / keywords assigned to a photo: Similar

You can see which collections are assigned to a photo by clicking on the collections badge, while you can see which keywords are assigned to a photo by clicking on it and looking either in the Keywording panel or in the Keyword List panel.

 

Seeing all the photos of a collection / keyword: Similar

You can see all the photos in a collection by clicking on it in the Collections panel.  You can see all the photos assign a keyword by clicking on the arrow to right of the keyword count:



Searching by collection or keyword: Keywords easier and more powerful

Searching photos by collection is less powerful and a little bit harder than by keyword. For example, to search for photos that are in both the Bob and Jane collection, you have to create a smart collection:



and then delete the smart collection when done. But searching for photos containing both Bob and Jane keywords with the Filter bar takes fewer keystrokes: Cmd/Ctrl-F to open the Text filter, then do:



Type Cmd/Ctrl+L to turn off the Filter bar.

If your collection / keyword names contain multiple words separated by spaces, the Contains Words operator can give false matches for both Smart Collections and the Filter bar.  Unfortunately, LR has an inexcusable design flaw with no way to match collection / keyword names exactly in smart collections or the Filter text box. However, you can search for exact match of keyword names using the Filter Metadata browser; e.g. to search for photos containing both the keywords Bob and Jane (but not Bob Jones or Jane Hill):



Restricting a folder or publish collection by collection / keyword: Keywords easier

It's easy to filter a folder by keyword, showing just the photos in the folder containing the keyword. While it's possible to intersect a folder and a collection, it takes a number of steps that most people don't remember.  Ditto for filtering publish collections.

Face recognition: Only works with keywords

LR's face recognition tags faces with keywords, so if you think you might want to use it at some point, better to start out using keywords from the beginning.

Sharing with other apps and Web services: Keywords better

Collections aren't written to a photo's metadata, while keywords are.  Thus, you have the option of sharing your keywording with other apps and Web services, but you can't do that with collections.

Sets of photos with specific custom order: Only collections do that

You can have a custom order of photos within a collection, but not with the photos assigned to a keyword. This identifies the one place where you'd always want to use a collection instead of a keyword: any set of photos in which the order of the photos matters (a book, a slideshow, a Web gallery, etc.). 


What did I miss?
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Tim McMahon

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Thanks John
As it happens I am a keyword user.  I was trying to provide a starting point for the OP who has previously used a folder/directory approach.  ;)
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Todd Shaner, Champion

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On the subject of using folders to "organize" your image files–It is totally unnecessary with LR and can be dangerous! With this approach users typically move files between folders from inside LR, which in some cases has caused files to be mysteriously deleted or simply become "lost." In addition it's all too easy to forget that LR knows nothing about file and folder movement, renaming or deletion performed using Finder or Windows Explorer outside of LR. This causes the affected files and folders to show as "missing" inside LR creating a totally MESS that can be difficult to recover. This happens all too often to both new and even experienced users of LR who try to keep a "tidy" folder organization.

So what should you do?

You've already placed your files into a folder organization, which is fine. However, after you've imported them into LR focus on using LR's Keywords, Ratings, Picks, and Labels tools for "organizing" the files. How to do this is explained in detail in Peter Krogh's book. Also from inside LR hit the F1 key, which will take you to the Lightroom Help page with Tutorials and the User Guide.