Smart collections are an incredibly powerful feature of Lightroom that will help you automatically organize your photos. They are quick and easy to set up and will save you tons of time. In this post I’ll cover 5 essential smart collections that you should set up today!
So first off, what exactly are smart collections?
With Lightroom a smart collection will allow you to automatically organize photos based on rules that you set up. For example, you can set up a simple smart collection that has the rule Rating is 5 Stars. This will create a collection that automatically searches through your entire library for images that you’ve rated with 5 stars. And when you change the rating on any new (or old) photo to 5 stars, that photo will automatically be added to the smart collection. Useful, right?? It’s like an instant portfolio of your best work!
Note: Smart collections do not move any of the photos around on your hard drive; it’s only within Lightroom that you can view these smart collections. Also, a photo can be in more than one collection or smart collection.
How to Create a Smart Collection
You can create a smart collection from the Library or Develop modules. On the left hand side of the screen go to the Collections panel and click on the + symbol. From the drop down select “Create Smart Collection…”
5 Essential Smart Collections
Now there are tons of ways to set up smart collections, but one strategy I recommend is using them to help organize recent photos. Here are 5 smart collections that will help give you a great overview of your latest work:
1. All The Photos You’ve Taken In the Last 30 Days
This smart collection makes it easy to find all your recent work. Keep in mind that this smart collection is based on capture time, not the date you imported the photos. You could also set up additional smart collections for longer capture date ranges like 2 months, 6 months, 1 year, etc.
2. Recently Starred Photos
This smart collection makes it easy to find all the photos you’ve recently applied a star rating to. This is basically a combination of the first collection I mentioned plus, the additional rule of photos that have a star rating. You can add additional rules by clicking on the plus arrow on the right hand side. I recommend setting the capture date to 60 days since your rated photos are often far less in quantity than your total captured photos.
3. Recently Edited
This smart collection will make it easy to find all the photos you’ve recently edited. You’ll find the “Has Adjustments” setting under the Develop option.
4. Recent Videos
Lightroom is great for organizing and viewing videos. This smart collection makes it easy to see only recent videos instead of having them mixed in with photos.
5. Recent Photos from a Specific Camera
Many photographers are shooting with multiple cameras. Being able to quickly find photos taken with a specific camera can be really helpful (especially since it’s often easier to remember what camera you took a photo with vs. what folder you’ve saved the photo to)
Don’t panic! When you first take a look at smart collections it’s easy to get overwhelmed with how many different ways you can automatically organize your photos. Start off by setting up the 5 smart collections above. The focus on recent photos will ensure you’re actually using them, and you’ll slowly discover how to adjust them (and create new ones) to perfectly suit you.
You can organize your smart collections by creating a “Collection Set” (hit the + icon under the Collections panel) . This can be really helpful if you decide to set up multiple similar smart collections. For example, you might have smart collections for 1 week, 30 days, 60 days, 6 months, 1 year, with multiple smart collections in each date range. You can create all those different smart collections, then create a collection set and drag those different smart collections into the collection set.
Smart collections are a fast and easy way to keep your photos organized, and the 5 smart collections listed above will let you keep track of your latest, greatest work. Try setting them up and see if they help you out!
Do you use Lightroom smart collections? How? Let me know in the comments below!