How I Quickly Organize & Edit Photos in Lightroom

I use Adobe Lightroom and I store all of my photos on hard drives. This is just my way, but it’s not the only way.. you could use the same idea but with your computers filing system.

(disclaimer) I am not a Lightroom expert. I have used it for a long time and I know enough for what I need. I am going to assume that you have the basic understanding of LR here, but if you don’t use LR and want to learn about LR…I will tell you that pretty much everything I know about LR I learned from Julieanna Kost. I will link her here If you are serious about getting to know and understand LR go watch her tutorials.

My system for organizing the files on my computer…

In LR it asks you where you want to store your photos. I never put my photos on my actual computer (I shoot in RAW and my original files are very large. This would slow my computer drastically) I keep all of my photos on Hard-drives.
My advice is to buy at least 2 hard drives with the most memory you can afford. (disclaimer: they are very pricy, no way around this that I have found) I actually have 3. After I have selected the photos I want to keep I will make sure to copy those to my other hard-drive. I keep my 3rd hard-drive at my moms house. Once a year I copy my photos onto that also. You know.. incase my house goes up in flames or something.


  • On my hard-drive I have a folder called “photos”. This is where I keep all of my personal photos.
  • Inside my “photos folder” I have folders by year.
  • Inside each “year folder” is a folder for each month (numbered).
  • Then inside each month I will have events. I can usually remember at least the year and month something happened then I just have to look through one month of events to find a photo.
  • I also have a folder inside each month with my iPhone photos that I took that month, and I try once a month to get those off my phone and into this folder.

When I import my photos to LR, I rename them right then. I put my name-date-a custom name (usually something to do with the event)-sequence number

For example: AshleyWhiting-2017-2-mybday-001

delete, delete, delete!

Once I have imported my photos to my LR catalog I begin to weed through (delete!) This will be my first pass over. I will go through each picture fairly quickly and “flag” any photo that I even remotely like. If the quality is bad or I have 10 of the same shot I just flag the best ones. Once I have flagged the keepers I will select all of the unflagged photos and delete them right away.

rate them (with stars)

Then I will make one more pass through them all and do a quick rating. Basically I just give 5 stars to a photo that is amazing and I would print and frame in my house (you know… the really great shots) a 3 or 4 star photo is blog worthy and social-media worthy, and a one or two star photo means, Yes I want to keep them and I may possibly use them in the future.

This system helps me to be able to quickly find a photo when I need one. I can ask LR to just show me the 5 star photos, or just anything with a 3star rating or more. I also don’t need to weed through such a large volume of photos looking for the right photo.

edit (optional)

After I have reduced and rated my photos I do a quick edit on them. I almost always start with a preset that I named “Ashley’s main edit”. It includes saving the highlights a bit, darkening blacks, fading a tad with my curves, some desaturating, and sharpening. I have a “a look” that I like on most of my photos and that gets me close in a quick one tap of my preset. Then I check my white balance and exposure and can do that pretty quickly by sinking photos that were taken at the same time in same place that have the same basic lighting.

The whole process, to get them to this point, takes usually about 30 min or less for a full card.

Now, when I am putting a nice book together or printing photos, I may do a tiny bit more fine-tune editing, however, I have decided to give up perfect photos in order to be able to document my authentic life. If I obsessed over each photo.. (whitened teeth, removed blemishes, etc) there is no way I would be able to keep up with capturing my story in my journals.

done is better than perfect!

There are a million different ways to do this process. After many years of doing this and many different systems, this has been the fastest and best way I have found to keep it simple and organized! Good luck!

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