Importing new images into Lightroom is fairly straightforward. Open Lightroom and plug your storage card into your card reader. This brings up the Lightroom Import window. At the top of the window, Copy should be selected. Copying files from your storage card will duplicate them in a new location (your hard drive) and add them to a new catalog. (If you already had the images on your hard drive, you would select Add, which wouldn’t move the original files, but simply add them to a new catalog.)
On the right side on the Import window are some important choices. First, under File Handling, I choose Minimal under Build Previews. This generates a small preview image, which renders faster when you’re searching large image databases. Also in File Handling is an option to download a second copy of your images to another hard drive. If you store your images on your computer hard drive, this option lets you make a second copy to an external drive for more backup.
File Renaming is next. There are many options to name your image files; at my studio, we use Custom Name-Sequence. The subject is identified by the custom name, and the number indicates that specific image in the subject series. For instance, we label portraits with "port" followed by a number to indicate that specific shot in "Portraits".
Apply During Import is next, and this makes or breaks how easy it is to find your images. In this window, you add your keywords and other metadata. Lightroom offers templates to caption similar images, which speeds up the process. Your database search capabilities are only as good as the amount of information you add to your images. If you want to find "portraits", "female", "blonde hair", "teenager" and "happy", you need to add these keywords to those images.
Finally, in the Destination pane, choose a location for your images to be stored on your hard drive. This is where Lightroom will link to your original files. Lightroom will generate previews of your images so, if the hard drive containing your images isn’t connected, you can still search your database for images.
To reconnect an image preview to the original file, reconnect the external drive. Next, in the Library module, choose Library > Find All Missing Photos. Click on the Photo Is Missing icon (exclamation mark in the image preview window) to reconnect the original file to the preview.
Now we have our images organized in a Lightroom catalog file and our original image files stored on one or two hard drives. Let’s talk about backup.