How to Start Organizing Your Images in Lightroom

Lightroom Online Class

One of the reasons why I am such a Lightroom fan is the organization options. It can be a monumental task of managing a large collection of photos. I know this because I have over 50,000 images now in my Lightroom catalog. You may wonder how I keep track of all of them, and with Lightroom, it’s easy!

Folder Organization

The first part of Lightroom organization is actually your folder hierarchy on your computer. You need to pick a consistent way to name your folders, preferably NOT by date.

You need to think about what kind of photographs you like to shoot. Do you shoot events? Do you like travel photography? Do you shoot pictures of your kids? For example, if you shoot a lot of travel photography, I would create a folder like this: Yosemite 2018_04. This folder will reflect the images you took in Yosemite, April of 2018. Maybe you were shooting your kids at a birthday party. It could be Megan’s Bday 2018_04. However you decide to organize it, make it consistent. For example, that Yosemite folder could be 2018 Half Dome Climb or Mom’s Bday in Yosemite. Do you see that all of these could reflect the vacation you had in Yosemite, but could be hard to find if you don’t have a consistent way of naming your images?

Yosemite Folders

Why You Shouldn’t Organize By Date

There’s a couple of reasons why I wouldn’t organize by date. The first reason is personal, I can’t remember where I was last week, let alone April of 2016! But I do remember that I was in Yosemite sometime in the spring of 2016, so my name of Yosemite 2016_04 would be easy for me to find. As you can see, I have a main folder heading in my Folders of Yosemite. Then you can see all the different trips I have made to Yosemite broken down by date. That is really the first step of the organization of your images.

When you first import images into Lightroom, it will default to organizing by date. Just be sure you change the settings so the destination reflects that you want your images organized into one folder.

Screen Shot 2017-11-15 at 2.02.02 PM

Star Ratings

The other important addition to your Lightroom organization is to use star ratings. Star ratings can be confusing unless you use the top ratings sparingly. When I first import my images into Lightroom, I will quickly cull through my images. During this first round, I will mark with one star the images that I like and x to the images I want to throw away. (The x key will tell Lightroom that you are rejecting an image. After you have gone through your images, you can delete all of your rejected images at once.) Go to the Photo menu and choose “Delete Rejected Photos”. You can delete all the rejects at once simply and easily.
Star ratings

Lightroom will ask you if you want to delete it from the hard drive or just remove it from the Lightroom library. Delete them from the hard drive instead of just removing them from Lightroom, that way they will be gone forever.

After I have used the one-star rating, I will go through those images and give a 2-star rating to the ones I want to do further editing. Once I have my editing to those images, I will go back and consider a 3-star rating. This rating would only be for those images that I would want in my portfolio and the 4-star rating would only be given to the best of the best.


My other favorite way of organizing images in Lightroom in using Collections. I would use a collection to store my favorite pictures from a certain shoot. It makes it a fast and easy way to find the best pictures from a shoot especially if you are doing a slide show or want to sync those images to Lightroom mobile. I would use the same naming convention as mentioned above in folders and even create subsets of images from the same location. But you can organize it a little differently in collections.

For example, suppose you took a trip to California. Your folder would be named California 2018_02, but in your California collection, you should only put the best of the best from that trip. Then, you can create subsets of your California folder and name those subsets San Francisco, Yosemite, and Big Sur.

Can you see how this new way of organization could change your whole way of working with your images? It will take a little time to learn, but it will pay off so you will have more time to shoot and be creative doing the thing you love to do, photography!

Learn other ways to organize and edit your images as we go into more detail in the Lightroom Quick Start Class. Learn to use this great program and create more creative beautiful images!


BPSOP Instructor – Holly Higbee-Jansen

HollyHolly Higbee-Jansen is photographer, trainer, blogger, and workshop leader who enjoys teaching and the creative process. Her passions include teaching photography workshops in beautiful locations in California, Iceland, Costa Rica and the American West with her husband Mark. Holly also teaches online classes on Lightroom, Photoshop and photographic technique. Get Holly’s Free E-Book on “Landscape Photography and the Light and find out about her newest workshops at Jansen Photo

Reach Holly by email at and read her blog at:

Holly Teaches:

Lightroom Quickstart


Do you want to learn to create images that show the beauty of the scene you saw when you took the photograph? Do you want to learn the other essential side of digital photography, photo editing and get up to speed quickly?

This course is designed to get you up and running FAST in this incredibly powerful program. In this two week information packed class, you will learn how to import, organize and perform simple and effective editing processes that will let you produce beautiful adjustments to your pictures.

iPhone Photography
In this class, we will introduce you to the magic of iPhone photography using several shooting and editing apps that will give you the ability to make your pictures sing in a fun and easy way.You will learn how to crop, change saturation, brightness and affect the overall look of your pictures with HDR, drama and grunge filters and other techniques. You will be amazed at the simple and effective methods.

Creating a sense of place: Case Study #6

This post is one in a series on how to create a sense of place.



Next time you’re taking photos on holiday or during a celebration, include detail shots to flesh out your story. Details shots, when added together with photos of people, help show the mood of your scene.

Have a look at the images in this case study:

  • Sign
  • Fork about to dive into a piece of chocolate cake
  • View through a rock shandy drink
  • View out the window


Do you see how each image tells part of the story? This is what you’re looking to do with your image series.

Each of these images is like a single idea, and by combining several, a story is created.


  1. Vary the camera angle in each shot. Shoot up, down, out, across, or through a subject.
  2. Frame your subject tightly to omit clutter. Reveal part of the subject.



Amazing Travel Photos Made Easy

Celebrate Your Life in Beautiful Images Part 1

Celebrate Your Life in Beautiful Images Part 2


No post processing skills necessary for any of Brit’s courses. You may even use your phone!


Amazing Travel Photos Made EasyAmazing Travel Photos Made Easy teaches you how to create a collection of images that not only documents your holiday but that conveys how it felt to be there.

This course focuses on the creative side of photography and emphasizes getting all your shots in-camera.

You’ll learn how to get amazing travel photos using any kind of camera!

Learn how to capture these experiences:

  • landscapes
  • seascapes
  • cities & architecture
  • wine & dining experiences
  • nature
  • wildlife


Celebrate Your Life in Beautiful Images Part 1Celebrate Your Life in Beautiful Images Part 1 gets you started photographing how you want your life to look and what you want more of in your life.

Ever wonder if the craziness of your life is, indeed, worth celebrating? The answer is a resounding YES!

Start taking images that that look like they came out of a glossy magazine.

This course focuses on the creative side of photography. You’ll learn how to capture images of your everyday life in a fresh and exciting way.

Celebrate Your Life in Beautiful Images Part 2Celebrate Your Life in Beautiful Images Part 2 takes you further by focusing on capturing the essence of your loved ones — think about the little things that you’ll always remember, such as how they hold their favorite coffee mug in their hands!

Do you wish you had images of your loved ones that capture who they are as a person? What about a series of images that portray your life as nicely as a wedding photographer portrays a wedding?

Get ready to have fun creating lifestyle photos that you can’t wait to share with your friends and family.

This course delves into creative ways to capture even mundane moments and beautifully photograph even camera-shy loved ones. They’ll finally stop saying they don’t like seeing themselves in photos!

Get a taste of how Brit will work with you.

You can also work with Brit privately

Mentoring: Schedule a live session with Brit via Skype

Get a private image video review: Private Video Image Reviews

Find out about all of Brit’s courses, including Photographing Fine Art & Craft

Print Resolution: Myths & Misconceptions

What is an appropriate resolution to print your images?  How many “pixels-per-inch” do you really need?  The answer is really tied to another question, “How good is your eye-sight?”

It stands to reason that the closer you are to something the better you can see any fine detail.   And, you likely wouldn’t argue that for large prints, most viewers will tend to step back to view them.  So, it stands to reason, since we will tend to hold small prints close to view them and stand back to view large prints, it will be worthwhile to produce small prints at high resolution. But, creating large prints at that same high-resolution with will be somewhat pointless; if you can’t see it, why print it?

Large prints require lower resolution than smaller prints to appear equally sharp at normal viewing distances.  A “normal viewing distance” is about twice the length of the print diagonal.  When we do the math, we can calculate a set of preferred image resolution settings for prints of different sizes.  I cover this in more detail in my course “The Art of Printing and Selling Your Art”, but suffice it to say, if you are shooting with a camera of between, say, 20 – 24 megapixels, and your print resolution falls between 180 and 480 pixels-per-inch at your chosen print size, you’re good to go.

Now, for years, a contrary idea has been floating around: “You should only print at 360 ppi!”, or “You should only print at 300 ppi!”  So, who is right? Is it different resolutions for different print sizes, or the same for all sizes?  Turns out, they’re both right, and they’re both wrong.  Read on.

So how do you find the resolution of your print?

In Photoshop, open the Image Size dialog (Image>Image Size) and uncheck the “Resample” checkbox.  Enter the dimensions of your intended print in the width and/or height fields.

Image 1

If the resulting number in the “resolution” field is between 180 and 480, you have enough pixels to make a finely detailed image.

If you are printing from Lightroom: in the Print module, first layout the print at your desired size. Then deselect the “Print Resolution” checkbox in the “Print Job” tab and look in the upper left corner of the print layout window.  The Dimensions of your print and print resolution are displayed there.  If you are between 180 and 480 ppi: you’re good. 

Image 2

(Note: if you don’t see your print size and resolution in the upper left corner of the screen, open the “Guides” tab in the Print module and check the box marked “Dimensions”)

Image 3

But wait, there’s more!

To understand the next step, I must digress for a moment and describe what happens when you connect your ink-jet printer to your computer and turn it on.

When you turn on your printer, it goes through a startup and self-test routine.  If everything appears OK, it reports to your operating system (MacOS or Windows) saying in effect, “Hi! I am an Epson model xyz (or Canon, or …).  I require image data at “X” resolution.”

For Epson printers, X = 360 ppi, for Canon printers, X = 300 ppi.

Now whenever you send an image to your printer, if your print resolution is not exactly 360 ppi (or 300 ppi for Canon), the print pipeline of your operating system will interpolate the image data to 360 ppi (300 ppi for Canon).  The problem is that your OS uses a kludgy interpolation method that is not nearly as nice as that which Photoshop or Lightroom can do on their own.

Image 4

So, for this reason and this reason alone, in Photoshop first determine if you have sufficient “native” pixels in your image file to print at an appropriate resolution for the size of your print — deselect the “Resample” box and ensure you are between 180 and 480 ppi, then re-select the “Resample” box, and set the resolution to 360 for Epson, or 300 for a Canon.  If you don’t set it here, your operating system will do it for you anyway, and we don’t want that to happen since your print quality may suffer.

Back in Lightroom: once you determine you have sufficient native pixels for your intended print size, re-check the “Print Resolution” box in the Print Job tab and set the resolution to 360ppi (300 for Canon)

Image 5

There is a special case when the Image Size dialog ends up with a resolution greater than 360 ppi with some current generation printers; but I will leave that for the course.

– BPSOP Instructor: Mark English

Mark Teaches: 

The Art of Printing & Selling Your Art

After the Click: Refining Your Vision in Lightroom & Camera Raw


Shooting After Dark: It’s all about the light!


Eastern Point Lighthouse in Maine


Those five magic words sum it all up for me with photography: “It’s all about the light!” Whether sunrise to sunset, the light is the key. But truth is, with shooting after dark, it is also all about the light! I think I have always been infatuated with shooting after the sun goes down but things have changed so much, especially when digital cameras arrived many years ago. Playing around and experimenting with different light sources can open up a whole new world with shooting after dark. With your LCD screen, you can instantly see how your nighttime endeavors are working.

In this article, I wanted to talk about some of the different ways to capture images using different lighting ideas and methods and the endless possibilities that await anyone who has a desire to shoot after dark. I have always experimented with so many different techniques and taught many different courses specifically on shooting after dark and I hope to show what you can achieve out there and why you might want to choose one method over another.

When I am planning to shoot after dark, there are so many options and some might work better than others. You can for example; shoot the Milky Way without any light on the foreground and the Milky Way and night sky become the only real light source in the image. You could also try different lighting techniques for the foreground that might add a completely different effect to the image of the Milky Way. Shooting after dark opens up a whole new world and experimentation really is the key. A lot of trial and error can add up to some great techniques that can really change your attitude about bringing out that camera after dark.

Some of the different ways to shoot After Dark can include:

  • Light painting
  • Moonlight
  • Overexposure
  • Artificial light sources like mercury vapor, etc.
  • Car headlights
  • Car trails
  • Lightning
  • LED Light Panels
  • Cities and architecture

The sky really is the limit and I wanted to show some different examples on why you might want to try different methods and also open up your mind to trying different things after dark like car trails or lightning. So many different things that you can do after dark but also different techniques to give you different results. You will get out what you put into it and eventually, you will have new ideas to try in many different locations, anywhere in the world!

The Ubein Bridge in Burma at sunset

The Ubein Bridge in Burma at sunset



The definition of photography is actually “painting with light” so I guess we have all been “lightpainting” since we started shooting. I have been experimenting with different light sources, and playing with lightpainting for as long as I can remember. I’ve tested out an incredible amount of flashlights  and light sources throughout the years and they can really be a complete game changer for your images. If you haven’t tried to use different flashlights in some of your images after dark, it is something that can be a total game changer. One important note to remember: try and always lightpaint from the side as frontal lighting is way too flat!

A few weeks ago, a friend and I shot Cathedral Rock and the Oak Creek River, where I live here in Sedona. I wanted to test out a new flashlight and do some light painting and also shoot a similar image with only the moonlight. We were in complete darkness when we arrived at 10:30 PM by the river and we set up to do light painting with my new light. When we finished those images, I shot star trails until the moon came up and then I changed my exposure and only shot by moonlight. So I actually came away with three different shots that night but my main test was comparing light painting against moonlight and what a similar shot might really look like between both light sources.

Below are both images, the first with only lightpainting and the second with only moonlight. I used a layer mask to paint in the moonlight on the second image so you could see exactly the difference. They both look pretty cool and this turned out to be a good eye opening test for us! The third image is one with star trails and only moonlight, which I also like.

Milky Way and lightpainting above Sedona

Milky Way and lightpainting above Sedona

Milky Way and moonlight above Sedona

Milky Way and moonlight above Sedona


Star trails and moonlight above Sedona

Star trails and moonlight above Sedona


By comparing the first two images above, you can really see the difference between using a flashlight compared to using the moonlight. I knew by getting there before moonrise, that I could try both of these techniques from the same location. That is something that I love to do as its sometimes hard to know which camera technique might be better for a particular image. Sometimes I prefer light painting and sometimes I prefer the moonlight or another technique.

The next image, is another one I did here in Sedona in the exact same way, but in reverse. I went out with a friend around 1am to shoot Cathedral Rock, from a different vantage point, and we shot first with moonlight and then left our cameras in the same place until the moon went down around 2:30am and then we shot the Milky Way. Later, when I worked on the images, I layer masked them together in Photoshop. I knew with this setting that I could never lightpaint the red rocks nearly as good as the moon could light them. Sometimes it’s pretty obvious that the moonlight will work better than any kind of light painting.

Moonlight and Milky way above Sedona

Moonlight and Milky way above Sedona

In the image below, also in the red rocks of Sedona, I planned on capturing a panorama of the Milky Way, just before the moon went down, so that I could get beautiful moonlight all across the red rocks. The moon was less then half full and if the moonlight is not too bright,  you can combine everything in the same shot so that you don’t have to do any layer masking and do multiple images. It is also crucial that the moonrise or moonset is as far away from the Milky Way as possible. Moonlight by the Milky Way can ruin the image. Milky Way panoramas require more work but I love capturing them as all of the work is worth all of the effort!


Milky Way panorama and moonlight above Sedona

Below are more examples of lightpainting only, where it was completely dark out except for sometimes possibly distant lights. The only real source of light was my flashlight and sometimes the light painting can be for the main focal point or can be just for the foreground. I have many kinds of flashlights with different power intensities and color temperatures and finding the right one for a particular image is key.

Lightpainting only:

Lightpainting an old barn and tall grass in the Palouse

Lightpainting an old barn and tall grass in the Palouse

Lightpainting on my friends’ property in the Palouse

Lightpainting on my friends’ property in the Palouse

Lightpainting on the Devils Golfcourse in Death Valley

Lightpainting on the Devils Golfcourse in Death Valley

Lightpainting in an auto graveyard near Sedona

Lightpainting in an auto graveyard near Sedona

Lit by an iPad in Death Valley National Park

Lit by an iPad in Death Valley National Park



Sometimes, I like to include people in my after dark images and there are different ways to do that, usually with light painting. But I also like to use the light from a cellphone or iPad and you can come up with some pretty creative after dark images this way. The first image below was a two minute exposure in complete darkness at a junkyard. I positioned the two people just where I wanted them, while I had my headlamp on and then turned off my headlamp. I told them not to move for two minutes, which was not easy, but I knew in my head exactly what I wanted to capture before I set them up. I used a very low powered flashlight to paint them as low light is crucial with shots like this. It usually takes about 10 or 12 attempts before you get something you like, but the payoff is definitely worth it and I captured exactly what I had envisioned.

With the next image below with the young girl, we were in Death valley on one of my workshops. I placed her on a park bench in a perfect location and I lit her with just her iPad to illuminate her red fleece and her face. I knew how the shot would come out even before I took the photo. With enough experimenting, you can predict your results. And she got a pretty cool portrait from that fun night under the stars!

Stay tuned for Part II coming soon!

-BPSOP Instructor: Scott Stulberg

Scott Teaches:

Eye to Eye: Capturing the Face


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  • What I like most about Joe is his heart. He dedicates a lot of time to his students and his critiques are direct and honest. Now when I’m shooting I hear Joe’s voice repeating what to think about in order to make an image. And what I really like about Joe's approach to photography (besides his fabulous images) is that he shoots 3×2 and doesn't crop! During the last two months I've grabbed my camera, tripod and fanny pack (that is always ready with batteries, cards, etc.) and am out the door! It has been time well spent and a lot of fun! Read More
    Nancy Naylor Stretching Your Frame of Mind
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