Spring Clean-up… or how to finally get some order in my Lightroom library

Lightroom 4 LogoI want to do it since at least one and a half year. Now I finally did it and it is great! I will go through the different steps as to give you an idea of how you can do it as well the easy way. It is not the right nor the best way. It is how it suits best my needs as a hobbyist / enthusiast photographer. Pros will do it totally different, but who am I to tell them – I at least hope that they know how to arrange and are able to find their images…

Anyway here are the steps I took to make life easier for me:

1) Sorting folders: I created categories: e.g. people, aniomals, travel etc. (see screenshot, click to enlarge)

Before I started off, I had my catalogue folders arranged by date. This resulted with the constant growing of my library to the point where I spent more and more time locating certain images. I did also not quite meticulously tag my images which further complicated the problem. I took the following steps:

2) Scan all folders for non keepers. I did not have to do that so much because I was quite tedious on that in the past. Nevertheless here is how I do it with the integrated flagging tool:

  • white flag (keeper): I mark every image I think is worthy of keeping
  • no flag (unsure): these are the images I will go through on a second look to decide if I am going to keep ’em or not
  • black flag (decline): all images that are not good, out of focus, crappy, junk, garbage …. These I delete directly. Off the disk, not wasting any more space and cluttering my library. Yeah!

3) Properly tag all images

Phew…  hardest part! I created some basic wordsets first and avoided plurals. It took me quite a while to tag the image set I wanted to. I tried to create grous which I could give the same tag. Anyway this was a job of one and a half days. Nevertheless totally worth the effort. I would suggest doing this on a cold winter day in the typical creativity void 🙂

3) Rate images using stars

I used the star system. Here is how I appied it.

  • no *: these images are keepers and at the mment not an item to delete but I do not know if they are worth further notice or could be “raised” to more stars by postprocessing
  • 1*: good image. needs further postprocessing
  • 2*: good image. I should definetly take the time to polish this one
  • 3*: great image but not perfect, better shots of the series
  • 4*: one of the best shots of this series
  • 5*: best of the best, these go in to my portfolio

I also created quick collections accoding to that rating.


Well thats it. Two days of hard work, but I am sure this saves me a lot of time in the future. The thing I have to do also from now on is to keep categorizing new images the same way as I shoot them. We will see if a am able to to that!




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