A word about organizing your photos and Collections in Lightroom
I store all my photos on a separate external hard drive dedicated only for photos. I have one folder named “Pictures” on that drive. Within that folder are more folders named with general categories — Art, Holidays, Music, People, Projects, Places, Plants, Sports and Vehicles.
Inside each of those folders are sub folders that further define the contents. For instance, in the Music folder, sub-folders have names of specific musicians and bands. The Places folder has a Cities folder, a Parks folder and a few more. The Sports folder has Soccer, Surfing, and Hula Hoop sub-folders. The Vehicles folder has sub-folders for Cars, Planes, Trains and Boats. Those folders are where I store all my photos.
Even though I use Lightroom to import and organize these folders, the pictures can only be in one place and in one folder on the one hard drive. Those folders are all displayed in the actual hierarchy in the Folder Panel of the Lightroom Library. (I create duplicates as a backup on another drive and will write about that later.)
What if a photo fits into more than one of my categories? That is where Collections come in.
The powerful advantage of Collections is being able to create a Collection of photos that live in different folders and even on different hard drives. And any one photo can also reside in more than one Collection.
Collections are virtual. Photos in Collections never move from their permanent home on your hard drive. They stay in the folder where you first imported them. Lightroom cleverly remembers the Collections you create, the photos you place in them and any editing you make to those photos. Lightroom never makes changes to the originals.
I utilize Collections when working on projects. After reviewing and rating pictures from a photo shoot, I might create a Collection of the best photos that require further editing. I might make a Collection of photos that have a similar theme, which will probably include pictures from many different folders on my hard drive.
Organizing is a joint effort of (1) knowing how files are stored on your hard drives and (2) using the tools in the Lightroom Library, including Collections, ratings and keywords. Master these concepts and you will easily manage the huge number of pictures you are collecting in this digital photography world.