If you’re not making heavy use of Collections in Lightroom, I strongly recommend you start. Collections are one of the most important aspects of an efficient Lightroom workflow.

Simply, Collections in Lightroom are virtual groups. A single image can be a member of any number of Collections. This means you can arrange your images in an infinite number of ways, without making additional copies of the actual files on your hard disk.

Collections only contain what you put in them. And you can put a single image in multiple Collections, depending on their theme, purpose… anything. I have Collections that I use for Web galleries, emails to clients, etc. These collections often contain images from a variety of different Folders. Rather than move or copy the actual file, the Collections within Lightroom reference all the files in their original locations.

I have many Collections, including some for

Abstracts
Nature
Personal
Exhibition Entries
Clients
Stock Submission
Email to Joyce

etc.

This allows me to keep my folder structure and file location independent from the final usage(s) of a given photograph.

Also, I often use Collections as the last stage of editing a shoot. After I’ve gone through all the images from a particular outing, and assigned Pick Flags, Stars, etc. I take all the highest rated/flagged images and put them in a Collection named for the subject or location.

You might ask, “why not just use the Folders source”?

Again, because I want to separate the content from its source. This is the main benefit of Metadata editing, or “instruction-based editing”. It doesn’t matter where the file resides, I can edit and distribute it in myriad ways easily from within Lightroom.

So take a closer look at Collections! You’ll find all kinds of ways to use them.

Matt Kloskowski has a video with an introduction to Collections here:

http://www.lightroomkillertips.com/2007/video-real-world-collections/

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