As with most things in Lightroom there are multiple ways to do things. Among the most powerful features are those which help you find the images you really want to show off. The search tools can find photos by almost any metadata criteria (e.g. exposure, date, lens, etc.), any data you have assigned such as keywords and captions, or by the rating system you choose. It’s fast, but you really don’t want to keep doing that over and over to locate the same pictures. As the number of images you have in your catalog grows you want to keep the best ones together for your portfolio, keep track of multiple jobs and help yourself perform routine administration and cleanup tasks as well. Collections let you do all these things. Best of all, because LR is all virtual, you don’t have to care where the image is physically located and you don’t have to make duplicate copies of the same photo. They can exist in multiple places at once. We are going to discuss three types of collections you can create and use:
1. Collections—just the basic building block
2. Collection Sets—just what it sounds like, a group of collections
3. Smart Collections—Set these up once and let LR do the work for you.
To create a new collection, use any search or filter tool to select the images you want. Then just click on the Plus sign icon at the top of the collections panel. It will ask you what you want to do. Just select “Create Collection” and it will ask you to give it a name. Next it will ask do you want to include the images you selected. I wish there was an “of course, why do you think I selected them?” button, but you’ll just have to say “Yes”
That’s it, now you can add new pictures to the collection by dragging them from your library grid view into the collection. You can remove a photo from the collection by right clicking on it and selecting remove. It is important to note that you have to manage the contents of your collections yourself.
Collection Sets are a grouping of collections. I use them especially for event shooting. I create a top level set for the entire event, then create a collection to hold all of the images I shot. After I have selected the images I want to show the client, I create another collection with just those images and place it in the set. Finally, when they have made their selections, I can track that as well. From the chosen set, you can control output to your slide shows or to your gallery proofs.
Finally, Smart Collections let you set up different criteria and then LR automatically searches for any new images which meet your requirements. I want to track my best photos because those are the ones most likely to go up on our new galleries for sale. I’ve set up a smart collection which says add any photo rated 3 stars and above. I really don’t want to sell photos of my close friends and family, so I’ve also told the system to not include those.
We always talk about doing keywording as you import, but occasionally we miss a few. I have another smart collection which tells me which pictures need that administrative detail done.
Build a few, experiment and have fun.
Here is a Powerpoint version of this I've developed for our next meeting of the Fauquier Viewfinders Camera Club. The Power of Lightroom Collections