Importing with Adobe Bridge and Lightroom (Process Series)

This post is going to be part of a series of my typical process for importing, editing and exporting images. The Adobe software is just so robust that there are multiple ways of processing images. Some methods are more popular than others because they are more time efficient but there is ultimately no perfect way. As long as you’re being efficient with your time that is all that matters, well that and having usable images.

I start my import process by plugging my camera into my computer and starting Adobe Bridge (full disclaimer: I use Adobe Creative Cloud software for everything). All pictures I take are in RAW format and I would advise anyone else to as well. I have a working drive, where I edit all of my images from and in this case it’s N:Pictures. I have multiple disk drives with an odd labels, hence the drive letter ‘N’. For each import I will create a subfolder with a custom name. To make it easier to navigate folders I’ve chosen a specific naming scheme, YY.MM.DD – <quick name>. In the screen shot below that equates to “15.08.10 – Shed.” The name will depend on the shoot for this example I photographed a shed, hence the name. For a wedding, I would use the bride or grooms name followed by “wedding.” I do not rename files typically and it really doesn’t matter if you do.

Bridge Import

Since all of my images are captured as RAW file format I convert everything to a DNG (digital negative). Using DNG files in Lightroom is amazing. Bringing DNGs into Lightroom as opposed to JPGs offer so much more information to work with. At the bottom you can insert any metadata you want during import. I don’t touch it other than using my name for copyright. After the import I have the images open in Adobe Bridge.


Once opened in Adobe Bridge you can begin to apply keywords, labels, ratings. I use this time to mainly remove images that I know will not be used. It is possible to rate and label your images here and not use Lightroom for editing. I wait until I have imported them in Lightroom before I but that is just me.  All of the labels, keywords and ratings transfer from one program to the other. If you wanted to do all of your file management in Bridge and use Photoshop for editing, you can.

Lightroom Import

After I am done with Adobe Bridge I open up Lightroom and import all of the DNGs. I do not make any chances during the import process. I would suggest you build smart previews for each import. After the images are imported is when I go through and begin my process of rating and labeling. Usually I’ll do a quick run through and give anything a 2 star rating that catches my eye from first glance. After that, I will filter everything else out and examine images more closely.

Lightroom phase 1


Lightroom phase 2


There are multiple ways to rate images and no way is a wrong way but you can be more efficient with time by using keyboard shortcuts. The keyboard shortcuts for the star ratings are simple, the keys 1-5. By default the colors are 6-9 and purple doesn’t have a shortcut. They can all be customized to make it easier for yourself.

Hopefully my vague explanation of how I import images will be somewhat beneficial to your process. This is the first post in a series showing my entire process from import to export. Please feel free to ask if there are any questions.


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