Part of the challenge in the digital photography age is to find the good files quickly. Collections offer a nice way to do this.
Think of collections as “Albums”. This is an easy way to find your best photos.
The key thing to keep in mind is that moving a photo to a Collection in Lightroom does not create duplicate file. You can add an image to 100 collections and it will not take up any additional room on your hard drive.
I tend to use collections when sorting and filtering won’t work.
For instance, I use star ratings. I also keyword many of my images. So if I wanted to see my best photos of my son James from 2012, I would just create a filter of 3 star plus photos from 2012 with the keyword James. I can do this search quickly. It is also constantly getting updated with new photos. If I use this search often, then I would create a smart collection. Smart collections essentially save a search for you so you can access that list of photos easily.
Think of collections like playlists in iTunes. Collections are a list of photos that meet a certain objective like photos to show a client, the best photos for a holiday card or just photos you like from your recent vacation.
Select the photos you want to add to the collection. In the Library module, next to “Collections”, press the plus (+) button. Select create collection. Give the collection a name and start to drag and drop photos into that collection.
Just as adding a photo to a collection doesn’t take up additional disk space, deleting a photo from a collection does not delete the actual photo. This just removed the photo from that specific “album”.
If you plan on making several collections and would like to group them together you can also create collection sets. This gives you tree like folder system to keep track of multiple collections. This can help keep your collections organized.
This process is the same in Lightroom 3 or Lightroom 4.
I then use Mosaic View to show off these collections on my iPad.
With Lightroom collections your best photos are just a couple clicks away.