Today’s Question: I’m interested in using Lightroom, but after years of using Bridge as an entry into Photoshop, I like and much prefer to maintain the file system I’ve set up in Bridge for my images. How do I do keep the Bridge file system while using Lightroom?
Tim’s Quick Answer: You can absolutely maintain the organizational structure and workflow you’ve defined in Adobe Bridge after you transition to Lightroom. You just need to make sure that you stop actually using Bridge once you switch to Lightroom.
More Detail: Many photographers seem to misunderstand the role Lightroom plays in your workflow, in large part because Lightroom employs a catalog rather than serving as a simple image browser.
The first thing that I think photographers should understand about Lightroom is that the Lightroom catalog is simply a reflection of your existing folder-based organizational structure. Lightroom also enables you to view (and update) the metadata you may have added through other applications such as Bridge.
The process of transitioning from Adobe Bridge to Adobe Lightroom is incredibly simple. Let’s assume you have stored all of your photos on a single external hard drive with a folder structure that suits your needs, and that you’ve been using Adobe Bridge to browse those images and update the metadata as appropriate.
To get started with Lightroom you could simply import all of your photos. With a new catalog in Lightroom you can choose the Import feature. Then set the source of the import to the external hard drive, and make sure the option to include all subfolders is enabled. With the “Add” option set at the top-center of the Import dialog, you can then click the Import button to initiate the process.
Once this import is complete your entire library of photos can be viewed within your Lightroom catalog. The entire folder structure for those photos will be visible in the Folders section of the left panel in the Library module, and all of the metadata for those photos can be found on the right panel in the Library module.
The important thing at this point, however, is to stop using Adobe Bridge altogether, and instead use Lightroom as the starting point for every task you need to perform with your images.
If you want to make sure you completely understand Lightroom, including help on configuring Lightroom to best suit your needs, you might be interested in my bundle of video courses on Adobe Lightroom, which you can find here: