A collection is a great way of grouping your photos in Lightroom so you become more organised and can easily find or show photos. If you want to purchase a copy of Lightroom, visit Warehouse Express
A collection is like an album or, if you're into music, it's like a playlist. It does not affect any of your existing folder structure in Lightroom or on your hard drive. It just connects the selected photos into a group for easy viewing.
Here Lightroom's Smart Collection has been used to bring together portrait photos that were marked with the flag. They are still in their original individual folders on the hard drive.
The Collections panel is on the left side of Lightroom. Even if you've never used it before you may already find Lightroom has automatically created some Smart Collections for you. For example it may have made a Smart Collection of photos that you have in a Lightroom catalogue that you haven't yet keyworded, or ones that you added star ratings to. It may also have a collection of recently modified photos or ones viewed in the past month.
You will want to use it for many other reasons. You could, as Adobe evangelist Scott Kelby does, structure your entire catalogue into Collections. He will create a Collection Set titled with the main theme, for example "Holiday in India" and then make collections inside this to hold all the photos, titled "Full Shoot", and all the best in another titled "Picks" and the few very best ones in "Selects". On more complex subjects he goes even deeper splitting the sub folders into genres so the Holiday in India may be sub grouped into Taj Mahal, Ganges tour, Khajuraho Temples, each with Full Shoot, Picks and Selects folders. This organisation may appear too excessive for most, but shows the versatility of Collections.
Creating a Lightroom Quick Collection
At the most basic level you can group photos into a Quick Collection. With this option you just add photos to the Quick Collection and you can then view them from the Catalogue menu. It's one folder and photos can be added or removed with ease. This is used when you want to quickly find a selection of photos, maybe to submit to a competition, upload to an online service or show a friend or client.
Looking at the portfolio example above I could go to that collection and then quickly mark photos for the Quick Collection. All you do is select the photo you want to add and press the B on your keyboard. The photo is added to the Quick Collection. Press B again and it's removed. Or you can click on the small circle that appears top right of the thumbnail. Or click and hold the thumbnail to drag it into the left hand menu.
Creating Lightroom Collections
If you're like me you may import new work into specific folders on your hard drive. I tend to have folders for the shoots I've done, so I may import photos from around Derbyshire into a Derbyshire folder, Sheffield into Sheffield folder and flowers into a Flower folder. That way I can easily find folders outside of Lightroom on my hard drives.
This is fine, and when I want to look for photos of rivers, I'd look in each folder, or use the Keyword Tag filter. What if I wanted to view my favourite rivers, streams, seascapes and waterfalls? I could create a collection called Water and place all my photos in this collection. The photos stay in their original folder locations, but become grouped for easy viewing in this collection. This is the beauty of collections.
To do this you create a new Collection by clicking the + sign next to Collections heading.
Give the collection a name - Scenes with Water.
Select Top Level, unless your new Collection is going to be inside a larger Collection Set, which, in this case, may have been titled landscapes.
Tick Include selected photos if you have already selected some in the central window.
Your new Collection will be created and the selected photos will be displayed inside. Now you can go around your catalogue finding photos to add to the Collection.
You end up with all your favourite water scenes in one Collection. Now if you want to use your other Lightroom features, such as star ratings, flags and colour coding, you can and that makes it easier to filter from Collections. And also leads us to the most awesome feature of Collections - Smart Collections.
Creating a Lightroom Smart Collection
Smart Collections takes things to another level. You first set up a set of rules from a large list of options. This list includes all the standard markers, such as star ratings, flags and colour labels, but also aspects of metadata, such as camera, lens, exposure value, and file name, keyword etc. Any photo with any of this info will be automatically be added to the Smart Collection.
It's a great way to start being clever with your catalogue. First move things into Collections, then add the labels, then create Smart Collections. For example you could have a folder of just portraits (keyword) taken with a 100mm lens (metadata) that you rated five star (flag).
One other important benefit is that the Collections menu is always showing on the left hand side, even when you're outside the Library module. So you can switch Collections and select different photos when working in the Develop, Map, Book, Slidshow, Print and Web modules. Photos in normal folders can only be viewed in the Library module.
Have a play around and become familiar with collections. Your organisational skills could become legendary!