Lightroom Smart Collections

Lightroom Smart Collections

By Douglas Wade

I love when Lightroom does organization for me in an automated way. One such way is the Smart Collections. There are two types of collections, Smart and Regular Collections. Think of Smart Collections as folders based on metadata, and the folders are constantly updating the collections as image’s data changes. If you add or delete images from the Lightroom catalog, the Smart Collections are updating the folders or collections.

Metadata is data all about data. When you take a digital image with your DSLR, the camera adds metadata about the image. So an image, as we think of it, is made up of pixels ( the picture) and also contains data. Such data includes the camera model, lens, aperture, and capture date, to name a few. Hundreds of different kinds of data are available and can be added.

I will share a few of my favorite Smart Collections that I use.

Collections are accessed from the Library module. On the left panel is a set of sub-panels, one of which is Collections.

The Smart Collections have an icon which includes a little gear.

I have many collections contained in “folders”  that look like little cabinets.

To create a Smart Collection, click on the plus symbol to the right of the Collections Panel and select Smart Collection.

Name the Smart Collection and optionally the location, if you are storing it in a Collection Set (or folder). Add a rule, such as, match all, and add from a pull down list what you want to look up.

That is it, except click the Create button to save the Smart Collection.

My Examples

Aspect Ratio is Square: Instagram uses square, or least they use to. I created to see which images are square.

Copyright is missing: I use this one because images I import from my phone does not come with copyright information. I can see which images are missing the data for the current year. I also use a metadata preset to add the copyright information.

Ownership is missing: Every image in my catalog must have at least one keyword, and that keyword is my brand.

Edited today: I sometimes bounce around Lightroom and do not keep track where I am at; this collection will take me to any image I made changes today.

Three Stars and No Title: This collection has a little work-around. A title must contain words, and words must use vowels, right? This will find empty titles or titles with numbers only; which I do not use.

Monochrome Treatment is for black and white images: Lightroom knows when the color is not being used so that you can test for it. As well as Grey Scale.

The collections are endless. Here are some suggestions. You can test for:

  • Blue labels (or any color)
  • Stars (none or one thru five) or a star count and greater, like two or more.
  • The photo was taken in the last 30 days (or any length).
  • Photos from a camera (even by camera serial number, if you have two of the same cameras).
  • Lens used
  • Picks or Rejects

Helpful Tips

Don’t panic! When you start using smart collections, it can get overwhelming quickly with how many different ways you can organize your photos. Start off by setting up simple smart collections like stars or labels.

Smart collections are a fast and easy way to keep your photos organized, and the above examples may help you keep track of your latest and greatest work. Try setting them up and see if they help you out!

My metadata may look different from yours. I have a few plugins installed, so those plugins add capability. I highlighted my plugins. Look at the metadata panel for things you would like to the Smart Collections to organize for you. You can use contrasting metadata or stack them, such as two stars and use a blue label.

When I am busy with a task and need to keep organized, I may create temporary Smart Collections, and these may become permanent. You may adapt some of these tools as you improve your workflow. If you have developed your Smart Collections, and have tips to share, please share them with me.