Lightroom: Queue batches of images during import

  • 5
  • Idea
  • Updated 5 years ago
  • (Edited)
Because I do not always take my laptop when I travel, I can sometimes come home with a CF card full of thousands of images taken over several days in many different places. I won't be able to edit them in one sitting, so I want to be able to organize them so I can systematically whittle away at them.

I've wished for a long time that I could import things in batches. I'd love to be able to select all the photos from Zambia, name a new folder for them to be imported into, add specific keywords and develop settings to them, then add them to a queue. Then, without leaving the import window, I'd like to do the same for the images from Zimbabwe, sending them to a different folder with different keywords, develop settings, metadata, and preview sizes. And so on. Then, I can hit Import, and let LR import all the queues while I go work on something else.

(Moderators: I also posted this as a comment, but decided later that it was different enough to merit its own post. Feel free to delete whichever one is least helpful.)
Photo of Matt

Matt

  • 7 Posts
  • 1 Reply Like

Posted 6 years ago

  • 5
Photo of Allan Olesen

Allan Olesen

  • 64 Posts
  • 6 Reply Likes
But you already can do that!

1. Arrange your photos in a folder structure as you want (mimicking the names in the parent folder structure you already have in Lightroom if you want to merge into different existing parent folders at the same time).

2. Import the top level folder of your newly created folder structure into the same place in the Lightroom folder hierarchy.

3. In the Import dialog, select that folder names of source folders should be used.

This way you can import them all at once, and they will be merged into the correct destination folders in Lightroom. In the left pane you can even see in advance where each new folder will end up in your existing folder structure.

I use this all the time for importing several folders at once, though I only use one level of folders, so I don't have to mimick a full parent folder structure.
Photo of Matt

Matt

  • 7 Posts
  • 1 Reply Like
Thanks for the reply, Allan. What do you use to do step 1? Do you use an application other than Lightroom to copy your photos off the flash card before importing them into LR?

I didn't realize it was possible to merge folders like you've mentioned. That's good to know, but it wasn't really the main point of my suggestion.

My observation was that I often import 1000-3000 photos at a time. But when I proceed to work on them, I usually apply general changes to them 50-500 photos at a time. As a result, I often am waiting on the computer to finish one process before I can go to the next:

  • I tell LR where to import all 3000 photos to...

  • I wait for LR to import them


  • I tell LR which 200 photos to separate into which folder...

  • I wait for LR to move them. Repeat several times.


  • I tell LR which 100 photos get a noise reduction develop preset...

  • I wait for LR to apply it to all of those images


  • I tell LR which 300 photos get the "Zambia" keyword...

  • I wait for LR to apply that keyword to those photos


  • I tell LR which 200 photos get the "Zimbabwe" keyword...

  • I wait for LR to apply that keyword to those photos. Repeat several times.



...then I'm ready to start editing. I would love to see all of that consolidated into one process:

  • I tell LR, based on the thumbnails in the import dialog, which photos go into which folder, which get certain presets and keywords. LR just marks them for changes, and doesn't actually apply those changes until I press the "Import" button...

  • I wait for LR to import all my photos, dividing them between different folders, adding various keywords, and applying different develop presets to the various subdivisons I've made


I go have a cup of tea and let my computer chug away. When I come back, it's all ready for me to get to work.
Photo of Allan Olesen

Allan Olesen

  • 64 Posts
  • 6 Reply Likes
Application for copying?

No, I just copy the photos and folders (my camera makes a new folder each day) from the card. No application needed for that.

I do use a small VBS script to do some folder renaming and invoke Lightroom, but that is not really necessary.

Regarding your desire to move around photos inside Lightroom: Why not just do it after import?

You can move files as you want to inside Lightroom after import, and it doesn't take any time worth mentioning as long as you only move between different folders on the same (local) drive and partition.
Photo of Rob Cole

Rob Cole

  • 4831 Posts
  • 386 Reply Likes
Personally, I just import everything to an inbox, organized by date, then after culling, editing, tagging, ... move to final destinations, with preferred folder names...

In fact, I usually don't even move things, per se. - when you create a new folder, Lr asks you if you want to put selected photos in it - I do.

Some people just use collections for what I use folders for, so imported folders aren't used so much for organizational purposes. In other words, photos stay in their "inbox" folder structure, by date, and after initial processing, they create final destination collections. That's how I would do it if I didn't have external considerations (I care about folder organization outside Lightroom)... Note: you can use collection publisher to maintain collection structure upon output (I use TreeSyncPublisher to maintain folder structure instead).

Different ways to do things...

R
Photo of Lee Jay

Lee Jay

  • 990 Posts
  • 136 Reply Likes
"Personally, I just import everything to an inbox, organized by date, then after culling, editing, tagging, ... move to final destinations, with preferred folder names... "

This is the workaround I use now as well.

However, I'm all for queued import. It would save me confusion and really save me when I forget to do the second step in the above workaround!
Photo of Rob Cole

Rob Cole

  • 4831 Posts
  • 386 Reply Likes
|> " I forget to do the second step in the above workaround"

I've never forgotten (for very long).

I mean, my inbox remains empty, unless I have "forgotten". It's my top folder so I can (and do) always see at a glance if there is anything in it.

PS - Inbox folder is named ____IMPORT___, making it especially easy to see at a glance.

Don't get me wrong: I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything. More specifically: I am not arguing against this feature request - I'm just sayin'...

R
Photo of Matt

Matt

  • 7 Posts
  • 1 Reply Like
Allan and Rob, thanks for the replies.

To clarify: I am aware that there are already several ways to send images to different folders, keywords, develop settings, etc. My point is that, when applied to a larger number of photos, all of the current ways become inconvenient.

The Adobe Feature Request page for LR (which links to this forum) asks:

Do you have an idea for a feature that would help your workflow? Is there a small change that could be made to make your life a little easier? Let us know!


What I have suggested is a feature that would definitely help my workflow; a small change that would make my life a little easier.

And since BOTH of you mentioned using third-party software beside Lightroom to help manage your folders... I'm curious to know: would making these changes in Lightroom make anyone else's life easier too?
Photo of Rob Cole

Rob Cole

  • 4831 Posts
  • 386 Reply Likes
|> "would making these changes in Lightroom make anyone else's life easier too?"

No doubt. There have been many different import-related feature requests over the years, like this one.

I use OttomanicImporter, since Lr's native Import feature doesn't do everything I want.

Note: you can set up Ottomanic Importer to do everything you want, but you may have to edit a (lua) text config file.

Informing you of this option is not intended to freeze-dry your feature request, but you may find it worthwhile in the mean time.

Rob
Photo of Matt

Matt

  • 7 Posts
  • 1 Reply Like
Thanks for the link, Rob. I look forward to exploring your Ottomanic plugin.
Photo of john beardsworth

john beardsworth

  • 1142 Posts
  • 273 Reply Likes
No, these changes would not be helpful. They would just result in people wasting too much time in the import dialog and seeking to use it for fine-grained categorization of their images. Folders are inherently less satisfactory than metadata for categorizing and grouping pictures, and any moving of images to folders is more safely done after import - you have a backup and less risk of forgetting images on the cards. The trouble is, Lightroom tends to encourage good practice.
Photo of Lee Jay

Lee Jay

  • 990 Posts
  • 136 Reply Likes
John, if your comment were valid, Lightroom wouldn't have a destination panel in Import, wouldn't allow creation of folders there, wouldn't have an into one folder option in that panel, and wouldn't have a right-click import-to-here option in the Library module folders panel. But it does because many people do use this functionality and do use folders to organize. Just because you don't doesn't make you right, it just means your approach is right for you and your shooting style.
Photo of john beardsworth

john beardsworth

  • 1142 Posts
  • 273 Reply Likes
You can always make suboptimal practices work, but it doesn't change what they are. The ability to create folders in Import is because it is necessary for images' physical storage and safekeeping, not to facilitate categorization.
Photo of Lee Jay

Lee Jay

  • 990 Posts
  • 136 Reply Likes
If that were true (and it isn't) then "by date" would be the only import organizational option. It's not. Regardless, folder-based organization isn't sub-optimal, it's optimal for certain types of situations and users, and LR recognizes that fact by providing tools to enable that approach.
Photo of john beardsworth

john beardsworth

  • 1142 Posts
  • 273 Reply Likes
Of course it's true - but I'm sure that won't stop you pretending black is white. And you know, we can all concoct "if that were trues". If import had been intended for categorizing photos with folders, why does it not make it easier?
Photo of Lee Jay

Lee Jay

  • 990 Posts
  • 136 Reply Likes
If LR were intended to organize everything with keywords, why is the keywording system so lame?
Photo of john beardsworth

john beardsworth

  • 1142 Posts
  • 273 Reply Likes
Because it isn't. You should compare LR to its competitors! How many offer synonyms, let you suppress exporting, keyword sets, filter the list, fuzzy suggestions.... Sure, there are things wrong with LR's keywording, but any knowledgeable verdict would be favourable. And to pre-empt the next big "if", people only complain about the system because they don't get that keyword lists are always unwieldy. It's in their nature.
Photo of Lee Jay

Lee Jay

  • 990 Posts
  • 136 Reply Likes
And there are things wrong with LR's importing, one of which is lack of queued importing! The folders system is already in need of fewer improvements than the keywording system.
Photo of john beardsworth

john beardsworth

  • 1142 Posts
  • 273 Reply Likes
It may just be that the folder system doesn't need improvements because it's inherently less suitable to the complex and fluid ways in which we categorize images....
Photo of Matt

Matt

  • 7 Posts
  • 1 Reply Like
John, are you saying you keep every photograph you've ever shot in one folder, and categorize them exclusively with keywords? If so, I have some questions:

-How do you backup and archive that folder in a logical way? Even though I could create a single, 7TB "Photos" folder on my Drobo, I will still always want to keep some images on the local HD of my laptop. Folders make it very easy for me to archive my images in manageably-sized chunks, and keep track of my redundant copies.

-Have you found an efficient way to find images based on more than one keyword at once? I use folders for large, mutually exclusive setting descriptors (e.g. "Queensland"), and keywords for smaller, potentially overlapping subject descriptors (e.g. "koala"). I may have photos of koalas in both the Queensland and the New South Wales folders. To find just the koala photos from Queensland, I go to the Queensland folder, and filter by the keyword "koala." As far as I can tell, LR only lets you filter by one keyword at a time. So how do you handle that situation? Search strings? Temporary smart collections?

-Has Adobe said that they are moving away entirely from a folder-based system? As far as I know, the industry standard on digital asset management is defined by The DAM Book, which advocates a system using both folders and keywords, similar to what I've described above. Is Adobe proposing an alternative system? If so, where can I read about it?

I have no intention of being belligerent. Like many of us, I have spent years wrestling with these issues to develop a workflow that is safe, efficient, and scalable. The system I've landed on--using both folders and keywords--works exceptionally well for me, and I believe queued import would make that approach even more streamlined. But if you've come up with a more effective solution, I would love to hear you elaborate on the details of how it works.
Photo of john beardsworth

john beardsworth

  • 1142 Posts
  • 273 Reply Likes
No, Matt, I am certainly not saying that, and am not quite sure how you thought I did ;). I see folders as purely for storage, not categorization, and I'd expect my thinking to be 100% in line with the excellent DAM Book. If you have the second edition, guess who tech-edited some chapters.....

Koalas.... I never remember search strings but do sometimes use temporary smart collections. I leave them around for a while, because if I've needed to look for koalas in Queensland today, there's a good chance I'll need to find them again before too long.

But you can filter by more than one keyword and that's what I'd probably do. You just go into into the filter panel (the 4 columns at the top of Library) and set two or more columns to Keywords, using the little menu at the top of the column. The first one might then be filtered on Koalas, and the second column would then only show keywords related to the filtered-down set of images, so I would expect to see words like marsupials (?), various states, zoos etc. So the first column filters down to Koalas, the second to Queensland, the third may be set to keywords and filters down to "Eating".... Hope that helps.
Photo of Lee Jay

Lee Jay

  • 990 Posts
  • 136 Reply Likes
And what would you do if you had 240,000 images, only about 100 of which have any keywords, and of those none have more than one keyword? What would you do if you never just shot general shots of anything and only shot specific events? What would you say if I said I generally find the picture(s) I want in that system within a few seconds?
Photo of john beardsworth

john beardsworth

  • 1142 Posts
  • 273 Reply Likes
In the first case I'd stop moaning and roll my sleeves up. Second case I'd decide I'm an edge case in having no ongoing themes in my pics. And third I'd just conclude that your search criteria are very limited.
Photo of Lee Jay

Lee Jay

  • 990 Posts
  • 136 Reply Likes
An edge case? Event shooters? How many people do you think shoot in an event-type situation versus those that shoot in a stock-type situation? 100 to 1? 1000 to 1? Remember, most amateurs are shooting events like vacations and holidays and such. Even in pros I suspect 10 event shooters for every stock shooter.
Photo of john beardsworth

john beardsworth

  • 1142 Posts
  • 273 Reply Likes
Er, I said an edge case.... in having no ongoing themes. It's pretty abnormal to take no general shots of anything and only shoot specific events which have no ongoing themes.
Photo of Lee Jay

Lee Jay

  • 990 Posts
  • 136 Reply Likes
Well, of the people that I know that shoot and use Lightroom, every one of them shoots events and organizes by folders.
Photo of john beardsworth

john beardsworth

  • 1142 Posts
  • 273 Reply Likes
And they never want to look for all the pictures of X at events over a period. Are tin foil hats still in fashion there?
Photo of Lee Jay

Lee Jay

  • 990 Posts
  • 136 Reply Likes
I've never had a need for that. Disconnected images don't mean much. What do I want to see all the cake-cutting ceremonies for? Why should I want to see all the pictures all off the different Brides' shoes? What should I do with all the images taken from all the bridges I've ever crossed?
Photo of john beardsworth

john beardsworth

  • 1142 Posts
  • 273 Reply Likes
All the Mustang pictures from whatever airshow? All the pictures of Jenny from when she was a child through to the 30th birthday? No, never, honesty? As I said earlier, I'd conclude you've very limited requirements.
Photo of Lee Jay

Lee Jay

  • 990 Posts
  • 136 Reply Likes
No, never that I can recall. The only thing I'd ever like to do in that realm is find all the pictures that contain a certain combination of people, and for that I'd really like face/region tagging and the ability to easily "AND" keywords together, neither of which is in LR.
Photo of Lee Jay

Lee Jay

  • 990 Posts
  • 136 Reply Likes
I'm all in favor of queued import. Having all my birthday photos end up in the airshow folder I shot the day before because I didn't get a chance to download the images in between is a hassle. I either have to do multiple separate imports (and wait for the previous one to finish) or I have to import them all to the airshow folder and then remember to move all the birthday images to where they were supposed to go at import time. When my wife has been shooting for a month, at a dozen different locations, and then gives me a full card, this can become a pretty big nightmare that queued import would solve nicely.
Photo of irep

irep

  • 16 Posts
  • 6 Reply Likes
Please allow tagging of different photos or naming them differently before import OR allow several import even if previous one are not completed. (when you import photos that were not taken the same days, chances are they will have very different subjects. I found very annoying and slow to wait for Lightroom having finished the previous import before when can prepare the next one.)