Importing Photos in Batches


Today’s Question: Often I will shoot various subjects on a single memory card. When I import into Lightroom Classic I currently import each subject separately but would love to import all the photos at once with appropriate options. For example, I may have flower shots and bird shots on the same card but want them stored, keyworded, and cataloged differently. Is there a method of batching files for import of different subjects or shoots together but identifying and storing them differently if desired?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Lightroom Classic doesn’t really support the workflow you’re looking for. It is possible to import portions of the photos from a single memory card with different settings for each group, but I recommend importing all photos from the card into a “temporary” folder in one step, and then processing the batches from that temporary folder based on your workflow preferences.

More Detail: It is possible to import only a portion of the photos on a single memory card into your Lightroom Classic catalog. For example, let’s assume you want to first import the first half of the photos on a card. You could click on the thumbnail for the first photo in the second half, then hold the Shift key and click on the last photo. This would select all the photos in the second half group. You can then click the checkbox for any of those selected photos to turn off the checkbox for all of them, which will cause those photos to not be imported.

However, I don’t recommend this approach because it can create some confusion in terms of which photos have already been imported versus not, especially if you will be importing multiple groups that are not necessarily in contiguous groups on the media card.

Instead, I recommend importing all the photos on the media card into a single “temporary” folder. The photos can then be processed based on your workflow preferences from that folder.

For example, you might import all the photos into a “To Be Sorted” folder. After importing you could divide the photos into subfolders based on topic. Within each of those folders you could assign applicable keywords in batch, and otherwise process the images. When you’ve wrapped up that work you can move the subfolders as needed to a different location, perhaps rename those folders, and perform any other photo-management tasks you need.

To me it makes more sense to get all the photos downloaded and imported in a single import process, so that you don’t inadvertently skip any photos and you also ensure the photos are all backed up as quickly as possible. You can then continue refining the organization of those photos and dividing them into other folders as needed based on your overall organizational workflow.