Selective Lightroom Import Using Camera Folders

Here’s a neat trick that works when you’ve shot multiple events on one card.

Let’s suppose it’s been a busy day with your camera and you’ve been shooting to same card all day. If all the photos are in the same folder, then you’ll have to sort them on the computer. But if you planned ahead, then each event would be in a separate folder. It usually takes no more than a couple of button presses to tell your camera to use a new folder. The hard part is getting into a habit of changing folders during the day.

Here’s a quick slideshow on how to create a new folder on a Canon camera.

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In Lightroom, once the Import window is open, you can see the camera card at the top left of the screen. Clicking that will show all the photos on the card regardless of how many folders you have.

At the bottom of the list of disks you’ll see the card again. Here you can click the little triangle to expand the folders on the card. This is also the time that you can use the rename panel to put a name to the photos in the first folder.

Here the pictures will be renamed with “canon-back” as part of the filename.

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Choose the first folder on the camera card, and choose a fitting name for the photos.

These two photos that I shot to show the second folder will be renamed to “desk-trash.” This is part of a second import. The downside is that you’ll have to do an import for each folder. But there’s really no other way to do this using just Lightroom.

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During the second import, choose the second folder on the camera card, and choose a fitting name for these photos too.

In addition to the renaming, you can also send them to different folders using the Destination panel. You might notice that I’m not changing the destination folder, only file names. This is because Lightroom collections are a much better way to organize the photos than using folders on the disk. But I do want them to have different file names so that an exported image will have a name that has some bearing on its content.

I could even do away with the dated folder and put everything into one massive folder of everything. But I won’t, just in case I need to access my collection without Lightroom.

For my editorial work, I have a more complicated folder structure that can’t be done automatically with Lightroom. For that I use Photo Mechanic which makes simple work of importing/renaming and applying the necessary metadata. Folders are more important in this case because a lot of times the photos need to culled and uploaded before they ever get to Lightroom.

A note about settings

There’s a option in the Lightroom preferences panel called Ignore camera-generated folder names when naming folders. I believe this is enabled by default.

Lightroom folder names option
This option seems to do nothing.

The catch is that I can’t tell the difference if it’s off or on. If it does do anything, any normal combination of settings shows no effect. My advice is to leave it alone and select your folders manually during import so you can adjust the filenames as needed.