Organizing and finding images in Lightroom is easy when using Lightroom’s Collections. To make collections even more powerful, Adobe added Smart Collections. Smart Collections automatically gathers all images based on a few keywords you create. Here’s how to let Lightroom help you organize your images the smart way.

Why Use Smart Collections?

This article was inspired while I was rushing to find images to show during a keynote address for the Black Hills Photo Shootout. I’ve known about Smart Collections for years, but haven’t really thought about them until I faced a deadline. Setting up is as simple as entering a keyword, then creating a Smart Collection just like I would a regular collection—but with the extra benefit of selecting what goes into the collection automatically. Now, selecting images for future slideshows is as easy as clicking on a collection. Imagine having all of your favorite photos automatically saved to different collections based on a simple keyword or a star rating.

Creating Collection Sets and Smart Collections

Step 1: Organizing Collections and Collection Sets. From the Collection Panel click the Plus sign and select Create Collection Set. Name the collection set and click create. This will organize your smart collections in a folder.

Step 2: Create a Smart Collection. Click on the Plus sign again but this time select Create Smart Collection. When the Smart Collection dialog box appears, name the Smart Collection and place a checkmark next to Inside Collection Set under Location. Choose the Collection Set created in the previous step.

Step 3: Configuring the Smart Collection. We can add as many or as few “rules” to produce the results we want. Let’s make this simple and just use a keyword: Keynote.  Start by selecting ALL from the Match drop-down. From the first drop-down, select Other Metadata and choose Keyword. Next select Contains and type “Keynote” as the rule. Click Create to create the rule.

Automatically Add or Remove Images

Adding or removing images to a Smart Collection Set is easy. Adding a Keyword “Keynote” to an image will automatically add the image to your collection. You can also add other keywords to the same image. The rule we created just needs the keyword to “Contain” the word “Keynote”. You can add other rules to the collections such as “I only want 5 stars included” or “only Red labels” with the keyword Keynote.  The choices can get very creative. Removing the Keyword “Keynote” from an image will also remove it from the Smart Collection.

How Creative Can You Get?

Imagine combining Smart Collections with Lightroom’s ability to build a Gallery for your clients.You can add a keyword such as Select and the client’s name. Lightroom can build a gallery based on the Smart Collection. Check out “Lightroom’s Secret Website for your Clients”.