Before you can start working with your images in Lightroom
you first need to import them. The two main ways of getting images into Lightroom are from a hard drive and camera or other device. You can also import images by shooting with your camera connected to the computer (shooting tethered). This third method is something we'll cover in another tutorial.
This tutorial just looks at the importing process. If you want to know how you can organise your images once you have imported them, take a look at this tutorial: Folders And Collections
From A Hard Drive
Make sure you are in the Library module and find the button towards the bottom-left of the screen which says 'Import...' and click it. You can also use the 'Import Photos and Video...' option found under the File menu.
Both of these methods will open the Import window shown here:
If you look to the left of the screen you'll see a panel titled 'Source'. This is where you select the images you want to import from your hard drive. If you tick the 'Include Subfolders' option, images will be selected from the folder you click on, plus any subfolders within it.
When you click on a folder, all the files that Lightroom can open (JPEG, RAW, TIFF etc.) will appear in the main window (middle part of the screen).
If the 'All Photos' box is ticked (1) then all the images found in that folder will be selected, ready to be imported. If you don't want to import all the images you can either untick this box so all the images are no longer selected then add them one-by-one or you can keep 'All Photos' ticked then just click on the images you don't want to be in the selection(3) to remove the individual ticks found on them. You can also use the 'Check All' and 'Uncheck All' buttons found towards the bottom of the screen. You can move through the images by moving the scroller found to the right of the main window. Currently we have the grid preview selected but if we wanted to look at one particular image more closely, we'd need to click on it and make sure the button which allows us to view a single image (Loupe) is selected.
Along side these options you'll find 'Sort' which allows you to order the images by the time of capture, checked state, file name and media type or you can choose 'off' if you don't want to apply any of the choices available. The Thumbnails slider allows you to adjust the size of the thumb previews.
Towards the top of the window you'll see two options (2): 'All Photos' and 'New Photos'. If 'New Photos' is selected you'll only see images that you've not previously opened in Lightroom while 'All Photos' shows 'new' images as well as ones that have been previously imported. If you've not used Lightroom before this isn't a feature you'll need to worry about, however it's useful to know when importing images at a later date.
As we have previously imported some of the images found in the folder we have selected some of the shots appear dimmed (4) and can not be selected. This is to prevent duplication occurring.
Next, make sure the 'Add' option is selected at the top of the window. This will allow Lightroom to index the images in the Catalog selected rather than moving or copying them. For more information on Catalogs, take a look at our previous tutorial
The other options available are Copy as DNG, Copy and Move.
Copy as DNG – This method converts RAW files to DNG and then imports the DNG files.
Copy – If you select Copy, Lightroom will copy files from the source to the chosen destination folder and imports them.
Move – This will copy the files from your source, move them to a new location and delete the original files. Copies will also be imported.
When the 'Copy' method is selected a third option becomes available along side 'All Photos' and 'New Photos' which is 'Destination Folders'. This option is useful when importing files from a camera.
Under the 'Apply During Import' tab you'll find presets that can be applied and there's also options to add Metadata and keywords. The other options in this column we will cover in more detail in the next section of the tutorial.
When you're happy with your selection, click the 'Import' button or hit the Enter key on your keyboard to begin the import process.
From A Camera / Other Device
Images on cameras, mobile phones, memory cards etc. must be saved onto your computer's hard drive before they can be imported into Lightroom. This is because Lightroom always needs access to the image files in order to work with them (please note that your original image file will never be altered, however. See our previous tutorial
for a further explanation on this). As a result, you'll notice (once you have the Import window open) that the 'Add' option we had selected before is now unavailable. Instead 'Copy' and 'Copy as DNG' are highlighted. This will allow us to save the images in a particular location on our harddrive as well as add them to Lightroom's catalog.
If you're wondering why you should use Lightroom to transfer images to your hard drive it's because of the various options Lightroom offers which includes adding file names, creating new folders on your hard drive and adding metadata to shots. This will help speed up your workflow and allow you to reach the editing process much more quickly.
To Import via a camera / device you can click the 'Import' button found in the Library module again or Lightroom may open the 'Import' window automatically if it detects your device. As before, the Source of the files is found in the left column, the centre window shows a preview of the images found on the device and the right column offers various options that can be applied to the images before the importing process begins.
Photos can be selected / unselected and organised in the same ways as we've previously covered, with Lightroom selecting all the shots as default.
In the right-hand column are various dropdown menus. Some are optional but it's important you do check / change the 'Destination' options even if you don't adjust any of the others.
Here you'll find an option to create a second backup copy of what you're importing as well as an option for preventing duplicates and a dropdown for choosing how previews are rendered. The lower the quality of the rendered previews, the quicker the import will be.
If you want to rename the files you are copying you can select from one of the various templates available or create your own by selecting one of the top Custom options. You can also edit templates.
Apply During Import
Here you'll find presets that can be applied to images and there's also options to add Metadata and keywords during the import process.
This is where you pick the location for the copied files to be saved in. Lightroom picks a default hard drive and folder location. If you want the images to go into a specific location, click where it says To and select 'Other Destination'. From here a new window will open where you'll be able to pick a specific folder. This folder will become visible in the dropdown list of files.
If you want to add a specific subfolder in your chosen location tick 'Into Subfolder', create a name for the folder and under organize, decide if you want the images to be placed into even more subfolders which order the images by date or if you want them to just appear in one folder. Your images will then be copied into this subfolder.
Another method of adding folders is by clicking on the + symbol found on the Destination panel. You can also right-click on a folder in the destination panel to open up a menu which gives you an option to create a new folder.
When you're happy, click the 'Import' button or hit the Enter key on your keyboard to begin the import process.
When the Import process begins the window you were working in will close and the Library module will be visible again. As images are added to the catalog they'll appear in the grid in the middle of the screen. Some imports can take a while so do be patient and you can continue to use Lightroom while imports are completed.
If you find you seem to apply the same settings every time you import images you can create presets that will speed up the process.
You can't pick and choose what's included in the preset so make sure all the settings you've applied you do actually want to save. Then, click on 'Import Preset' found at the bottom of the window and select 'Save Current Settings As A New Preset'. A window will open where you can name the preset then click create. Once you have a Preset, options to delete or change the name of it will become available in the menu.