Well, now that you’ve imported all your pictures and tagged each one, five ways until Sunday, what happens next? Today’s topic is all about the tools you have available to let you gather all those photos and group them, so that you can show them off easily to admiring friends, family or clients. Collections or groups, let you separate the wheat from the chaff in your pictures, they can remind you of work which still needs to be accomplished, and even can do these tasks automatically. Best of all, by using collections, you don’t need to have multiple copies of the same picture taking up space in twenty different folders on your computer. Collections are virtual, they take advantage of all that metadata and just point back to your original file—until you need to output them in some form or fashion.
I shoot a lot of photographs of flowers. I also am fortunate that I get to travel to some very beautiful places. So I have flower pictures from Napa Valley CA, Normandy France, Tuscany, Italy and right here in my backyard in Virginia. Some of the photos are pretty decent, or at least I like to think so. I have created keywords called “Flowers and Nature” and it has some subgroups like “Fruits and Vegetables”, because I often shoot Farmer’s Markets as well. So now I have well over 1000 pictures in this category. Although we have not talked about it, I also take advantage of the rating tools and use a system of stars to really mark the pix I like. I have very few 5 star photos, but a decent number of 4 and 3 starred ones. As it is my system, and completely subjective, I get to decide what goes where.
No one wants to sit through 1000 photos of flowers, they would get old quickly, as a photographer, I want people to go “ooh, ahh” when the see one of my pictures so I only want to show them the best few—very few. So I created a collection and called it, because I am so clever “Best Flowers” Any picture I think is “worthy” I just drag over there from whatever folder it exists in and it joins the others. As of today, from the over 1000 pictures tagged with Flowers, there are 33 images in my collection. Here are a couple that I especially like, in fact the only two, that I consider to be 5 star.
In Bridge and Lightroom 2, Adobe ® added a really cool feature which you can customize yourself to automatically build collections for you. They are called “Smart Collections”. They build some automatically for you “Five Star” and “Past Month” being two. You can specify by including or excluding any of the searchable attributes or any keyword in almost limitless combination, criteria and the software will add any photo you have which meets those requirements.
I also shoot a lot of Abstracts. So now I have a Smart Collection that looks for any photo I have tagged as Abstract and which I have rated 4 stars or more and collects them for me. Photos can be in more that one collection. You can even build “Collection Sets” where related items, can be gathered together. The flexibility is very nice.
Once you have collected these images, you can edit them as a group, print them, or do anything you like with them. Deleting them from a collection does nothing to the actual image, nor does deleting an entire collection.
Collections help you organize your work, making it easy to show the very best to people, without trying to search through hundreds of folders. Take advantage and have fun.