There will be times when you want to browse through multiple libraries in order to find a certain category of photos to be used for a specific purpose. For instance, I often place on-line ads for some of my photographic services. Lately, I’ve been suspecting that these ads would attract more attention if replaced the photos that illustrate these ads more often. Lightroom’s Collections feature makes this really easy. It just gives you a very handy way to work with any number of images that were taken at different times for different reasons, and stored in different folders.
There are two kinds of Collections, namely Collections and Quick Collections. Collections can be thought of as virtual Folders. Putting a photo into a Collection doesn’t actually duplicate the file or move it from its original location. There is no actual image in the Collection, only a pointer, in the form of a thumbnail, to the image that’s stored in Lightroom’s Folders or Libraries. But this is only a technical difference. You still see thumbnails in the Grid View, can Loupe them just by pressing Return and can develop them any way you like. You can even create a virtual copy that doesn’t create a duplicate file, only a duplicate set of Lightroom instructions. Nothing you do to a Virtual Copy actually changes the original file. It just acts as a duplicate set of instructions that shows a different set of Develop instructions applied to that same file.
You can place images into a Collection from any Library or Folder in Lightroom. If you’re gathering the images for a collection by browsing through the Grid View in the Library, all you have to do to get the photo into a Collection is select it and then drag it into the Collection. You work in Lightroom with the pictures that are listed in a Collection just as you’d work with them in a standard Folder.
All you have to do to create a collection is go to Collection Panel in the left column of Panels in the Library module and then click on the + icon to the right of the Panel’s title. The Create Collection dialog pops open on screen. You just enter whatever name seems appropriate, e.g. “New Submissions for Stock Agency” in the Collection field and then click the Create button.
There are three ways that I go about finding the pictures for a collection:
1. Make a Quick Collection as I browse inside a single Folder in any module–or I can go to All Photographs and make the Quick Collection from my entire Library. Each time I select a photo or photos to be added, I choose Photo > Add to Quick Collection (Library Module) or Edit > Add to Quick Collection (All other modules). When I’m done with that folder or Library, I can transfer all the files from my Quick Collection to the named collection I’m working on just by opening the Quick Collection (Choose Quick Collection from the Library Panel in the Library Module). Then all I have to do to transfer the images from the Quick Collection to a named Collection is press Cmd/Ctrl + A to Select All and then drag them to the Named Collection I’ve created in the Collections panel. If this is the first Quick Collection you’ve made and want to start a Named Collection, just press Cmd/Ctrl + Opt/Alt + B to Save Quick Collection and name your collection in the resulting dialog.
2. Go to any folder and just Cmd/Ctrl + click any number of chosen images and drag them to the desired Named Collection in the Collections panel. You can then choose more image from the same or other Folders and keep dragging them to any named collection that might seem appropriate at the time. This is a great method when I know I want to create several collections at once or when I want to find different images in different folders to use for a dedicated purpose.
3. Use the Find Panel in the Library Module. It allows me to find any image that I’ve catalogued in Lightroom. I just go to the Library Panel in the Library Module and click on All Photographs. I then go to the Find Panel and choose Any Text and type the keyword, title, metadata component into the Search field. As soon as I start typing, the images appear, so I get a collection very quickly. I can then make a Quick Collection of just those images I want, open it, and then drag that entire collection into my new Named Collection (or any existing one, for that matter).
This is very slick and powerful stuff. If you want to work faster, start using Collections now.