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Getting Started with Lightroom 3, 4, 5, 6 and Classic: Importing Photos and Videos

Lightroom is a fabulous program, but it can be daunting. Here are a few resources to get you started with getting your photos and videos into Lightroom. (This is applicable to Lightroom Classic and earlier versions of it – Lightroom 3, 4, 5, 6, and CC 2015. It is not applicable to the new cloud-based Lightroom CC application.)

1. An article on how Lightroom works with a catalog and what importing really means.

2. Two videos on importing photos:  i.e. getting Lightroom to see them:

  • The first covers importing photos already on your hard drive, as well as other import basics, such as setting up a copyright and contact information preset. (Do watch this one first, as I cover Import basics that the second video assumes you know).
  • The second covers importing photos still on memory cards, copying them to exactly where you want to on your hard drive, assigning keywords, and setting up an Import preset.
  • These lessons apply to Lightroom 3, 4, 5, 6, CC 2015 and Classic.
  • They are from my Lightroom 4: The Fundamentals and Beyond – Workshop on Video series (Here’s the Lightroom 5, 6 and Classic 7 version. – it’s 22 hours of training on 76 videos.) Do check it out! 

I would recommend not skipping the article in #1 – tThese concepts are covered in earlier videos in my Fundamentals & Beyond series.

To watch the videos at higher resolution, click on the little wheel/sprocket symbol in the bottom right of each video, and increase the quality to HD.  (Note that in my product, all are at higher resolution – 1024×768, and are not blurry!)

2018-06-06T13:57:19+00:00March 8th, 2012|41 Comments


  1. Miguel Macias Huerta April 10, 2012 at 4:56 pm - Reply

    Excelent, very clear video, thanks finally a real simple tutorial tha works!

    • Laura Shoe April 11, 2012 at 11:58 am - Reply

      Thank you, Miguel — I am glad you enjoyed it!

  2. Andy Peck June 7, 2012 at 11:03 am - Reply

    Love your video, i have one question I hope you can help me out. Please reply to my email. Thanks,
    I downloaded the LR4 software from adobe and the first thing I did was import all my photo’s as a “Copy” I didnt do any of the things you suggested we do before importing for the first time. Is this an easy fix?


    • Laura Shoe June 10, 2012 at 9:36 am - Reply

      Hi Andy, I am not sure what things you would not have done. The big question to me is whether you are happy with the new folder organization of your photos that you now have because you chose Copy rather than Add, or whether you want to go back to the old organization you had. Because you chose Copy, you now have these two different versions (copies) on your hard drive (unless you have since deleted one). Assuming you still do and if you want to go back to the old one, delete the new copies on your hard drive, then right-click on the folders in LR and choose Remove. Then reimport, choosing Add this time.

      If instead you are referring to adding copyright and contact info to the metadata, you can do that in the Library module by selecting all your photos, then adding the info in the Metadata panel (bottom right).

  3. Graham Edwards July 9, 2012 at 8:45 am - Reply

    Clear, straightforward and easy to follow. What a relief! Thank you.

  4. Barbi Labb November 1, 2012 at 4:00 pm - Reply

    FINALLY someone who explains things at a pace and speech you can easily follow and actually learn….excellent, thank you!

    • Laura Shoe November 2, 2012 at 10:43 am - Reply

      You’re welcome, Barbi — thank you for the note!

  5. Katherine December 8, 2012 at 4:27 pm - Reply

    Really helpful, thank you!

    • Laura Shoe December 9, 2012 at 8:14 pm - Reply

      You’re welcome, Katherine!

  6. Sue December 30, 2012 at 8:19 pm - Reply

    Great video! Very clear. One question though…when you “copy to” do you really want to copy to the computers hard drive or are you better off copying to an external hard drive so as to not use too much of your computers memory?

    • Laura Shoe January 8, 2013 at 11:56 am - Reply

      Hi Sue, I’m glad you enjoyed the video! There isn’t any right answer as to where to put your files — if you are short on internal hard drive space (or just want to keep all your photo files on a separate dive), copying to an external drive is a fine solution. This discussion of where to put your files was covered in more depth in the video previous to this one in my Fundamentals & Beyond series.

  7. John Coopmans January 29, 2013 at 6:40 am - Reply

    Thank you so much for the excellent videos. I’m a new user to lightroom 4 and your videos make a tough work, very easy.

    Kind regards John

    • Laura Shoe February 1, 2013 at 11:32 am - Reply

      You’re welcome, John — thanks very much for the note!!

  8. Sandra February 18, 2013 at 9:13 pm - Reply

    Thank you, thank you, thank you… The videos are great! Very clear and easy to follow.

    • Laura Shoe February 20, 2013 at 9:46 am - Reply

      You’re welcome, Sandra – thank you for the note!

  9. Helga Mikkelsen March 14, 2013 at 7:09 am - Reply

    very helpful, very clear, very pedagogical 🙂

  10. Michele Vatne March 18, 2013 at 10:16 am - Reply

    Great clear instructions. Being new to all this it is extremely encouraging to stumble on you! I do have a question- before installing lightroom- I imported some old images to play around with but I put them in IPhoto- I can’t seem to find I Photo folder to add to lightroom. Thanks in advance-

  11. Tony Blacker May 8, 2013 at 11:51 am - Reply

    Very well presented tutorial thank you!

    I have one question i want to manage my catalogue from a USB flash drive how do I stop LR treating it as a memory card and treat it as the hard drive?

  12. […] to this site, 1. Getting Started with Lightroom 3 or Lightroom 4: Importing Photos and Videos Getting Started with Lightroom 3 or Lightroom 4: Importing Photos and Videos | Laura Shoe's Lightroo… 2. Have You Created Your 2012 Metadata Copyright Preset? Have You Created Your 2012 Metadata […]

  13. Alana July 16, 2013 at 1:55 pm - Reply

    I’m new to lightroom, and these videos are the best I’ve found so far! Thank you for explaining everything so cleary! Much appreciated.

    • Laura Shoe July 18, 2013 at 11:08 am - Reply

      You’re welcome, Alana!

  14. Jan Armor June 5, 2014 at 9:28 am - Reply


    I just wanted to take a moment to thank you again for your excellent videos, and your sharing of same. I have sent the link to my LR beginners class, and will pitch your videos tonight. I hope it drums up a few customers for you.

    Jan Armor

    • Laura Shoe June 11, 2014 at 12:15 pm - Reply

      Thank you, Jan!

  15. skoville September 9, 2014 at 8:39 pm - Reply

    I had such a mental block on importing that I kept backsliding and using Bridge. Your tuts were what I needed. Thank you! Moving forward once again.
    Is this stuff fun, or what!!

    • Laura Shoe September 10, 2014 at 9:55 am - Reply

      I’m happy to hear it, skoville!

  16. Anthony September 30, 2014 at 5:03 am - Reply

    Thanks for the informative video – I look forward to the others you have.

  17. George March 14, 2015 at 5:47 am - Reply

    My LR5 has roughly 350 folders. I am in the process of trying to organize LR (and my pixs). My question, one of my folder’s has roughly 40 sub-folders and I would like to delete this “Master” folder and let the 40 sub-folders be “regular” folders. Any suggestions?

    • Laura Shoe April 15, 2015 at 3:04 pm - Reply

      Hi George,

      Select all the subfolders by clicking on the first, then shift-clicking on the last (assuming you have Lightroom 4 or newer), and drag them up into the folder that the “Master” currently resides in (rather than into the Master, which is where they are now). Then when the Master is empty, you can right-click on it and remove it.

      • George April 16, 2015 at 3:49 am - Reply

        Thank you !!!

  18. Michelle Brasington December 29, 2015 at 2:17 pm - Reply

    Hi Laura thank you for your video tutorials. I have imported my photos to the right hand panel and they are in my destination and I can see my folder “queen vic market” folder in the destination right hand panel. But in the folder and the number of photos as 95. But on the left hand panel in the same folder “queen vic market” there are no images and there are no photos displaying and says “no photos in selected folder”. Where have I gone wrong – why would they be in the right hand panel and not the left? Thanks! Michelle

    • Laura Shoe January 2, 2016 at 1:52 pm - Reply

      Once you have imported your files, Michelle, use the Folders panel on the left side in the Library module (not in the Import dialog) to view and work with your photos.

      • Michelle Brasington January 3, 2016 at 11:34 pm - Reply

        Hi Laura

        Thanks so much – all good – my photos are now showing in the Folders panel!

        Thanks for your help.


  19. George Mitchell July 29, 2016 at 7:56 am - Reply

    Hi Laura, I have had LightroomCC for only 2 weeks and great fun I have just found you on Google Search and bookmarked you immediately. I have watched, step by step, Importing Lightroom from memory card with just a small problem which I am sure you can help with. Having imported images from memory card I followed the video to the end. However, in my Folders (left panel) the contents of the card with date are there but not
    Pictures go Here. Clearly I have done something, but what?
    Brilliant set of videos that will keep my quiet for a long time! Regards George

    • Laura Shoe August 1, 2016 at 11:01 am - Reply

      Hi George,

      Lightroom just doesn’t show you the location of imported folders by default (which I think is terrible!) Right-click on your date folder and choose Show Parent Folder. Do this to your highest-level folder as many times as necessary to reveal as much of your folder hierarchy as you’d like to see. This is covered in the File and Folder Management (Reorganizing Folders and Photos) video in my Lightroom CC/6 and 5: The Fundamentals & Beyond video series, which I would highly recommend to you!

      • George Mitchell August 2, 2016 at 1:04 am - Reply

        Hi Laura, great advise!

        Being new to your blog, I am working through your tutorials – brilliant.

        Many thanks


  20. Paul Jones June 12, 2018 at 1:23 pm - Reply

    Hey, Laura,

    Your teaching is simple, clear, and systematic—meaning you start with basics and then build into complexity step-by-step. After wading through various sizes of knowledge dumps by otherwise well-intended photographers, I finally landed on your airstrip, thank God. I am a college professor, so I know what I am talking about. Not everyone is a born teacher. You are. Thank you. I signed up for all your content and will be getting your complete LR DVD course.

    • Laura Shoe June 14, 2018 at 1:59 pm - Reply

      Thank you for your note, Paul – it means a lot to me, coming from a professor, and I’m glad you enjoy my tutorials!

  21. Larry Halpin October 4, 2018 at 12:09 am - Reply

    Great video. It cleared up a big problem (big to me anyway) I had understanding how everything connects at the beginning.

    • Laura Shoe October 5, 2018 at 7:51 pm - Reply

      I’m glad you enjoyed it, Larry!

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