Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Organizing my Digital Photos with Lightroom

One of my genealogy goals this year was to digitize all the slides at my grandma's house. I knew that she had a lot, but I didn't realize that it would take 3 trips and months to finish just the scanning of the slides.

Then I took another trip to visit my dad's side of the family in Pennsylvania. There I was able to scan a few photo albums. I also scanned all the photos at my parents' house while I was there.

By the end of the summer, I had tons of digital photos from many families and across many decades. The problem was that when I wanted one to add to a blog post or for my family history books, I couldn't find the one I knew I had. If I couldn't find the ones I remembered, imagine trying to find the rest.

Over the summer, I used a few different software programs to add metadata to my photos with varying degrees of success. In the end, I decided to purchase Adobe Lightroom.

Lightroom lets me import all my photos. It allows me to add tags and copyright information during the import process. I can add tags in batches or tag individual photos. I can add captions. I can move photos between folders within the program. I can rename groups of photos using a variety of their preset naming structures or create my own.

I love being able to sort the photos in a variety of ways. User order is my favorite. Since I have photos from a variety of collections for the same event, I was able to put them in order. Lightroom also lets you compare two photos and decide which is best. You can then delete the other one or rate the two photos. For example, these features came in handy when I was trying to organize a group of family photos taken in 1991. My grandfather liked to take a large family photo, then photos of each of his daughters' families, then just the grandchildren and so on. I had scans of photos from my grandma's collection and from my parents. I really didn't need 4 copies of the same picture, so I organized the photos by who was in them and then compared each photo. Then I could just keep the best ones.

Lightroom was just what I needed to organize all those photos. I haven't even discussed the photo editing side of the software. I haven't used it much yet, but I plan to use it more now that everything is organized.

The next photo project? Scanning and organizing all the photos in my closet. Good thing my husband got me a Flip-Pal at FGS.

Disclosure: I was not compensated for this review. The links above are Amazon affiliate links. I get a small percentage of your purchase price at no additional cost to you. I do not see or fulfill your order.


  1. What I'm curious about is the difference between Adobe Lightroom as an organizer and Adobe Bridge. Any ideas? I would love to see more specific posts on Lightroom and with screen captures. :)

  2. I agree! More, more! Also, how did you scan slides? Do you have any ideas on how to scan old negatives?
    Thanks! ~~ Kay

  3. Great post and lightroom is great for organizing and for doing some editing. I've been using it for a few years and it do not know how I got by without it. Great Post!

  4. Kay, my scanner has the settings and accessories to scan both slides and negatives (as well as the instructions). Not all scanners will do them.

    Thanks, Tina, for telling us about Lightroom! Had not heard of it before; now I'm going to have to think about buying it.

  5. Great post! I have been in the process of doing the same thing using both Flickr online and Picasa locally.

    BTW, For those who do not have a scanner that works with slides or negatives and are feeling adventurous, this blog post has instructions to create a lightbox to use for scanning them on a standard flatbed scanner:

  6. I have been considering getting Lightroom but am wondering what the difference between Adobe Lightroom and the organizing portion of Photoshop Elements is.

    I have a flatbed scanner that does slides and recently purchased a portable scanner just for slides that is much faster and works fine. I am traveling and can't remember the name of it but if any of you are interested in finding out, email me and I will tell you when I return home.

  7. PS Great job with your scanning project. It's been a huge one and a lot of work. Keep it up!

  8. Kay, Here is my post about scanning slides. The scanner I have will also do negatives.