Where are my pictures!?!

Common cures to what ails many Lightroom users

Problem: You know you've just imported those #&*#$@ pictures but now you can't find them. This seems to happen soon after images are imported and you want to do some work on them. You can blame Lightroom all you want, but just a little consistency on your part will solve this problem.

Here are some suggestions:

Create an Import Preset

Problems will arise by importing images into inconsistent locations. So set up the Import dialog to put your images where you want them to go (See Importing) and then save the settings as a preset.
The Import Preset button can be hard to find. Look to the very bottom of the Import dialog screen. Click on the little arrows on the right and then choose "Save Current Setting as New Preset."

import-preset
Now the trick is to remember you've got that preset available. Make as many of these as you need to suit your own workflow. Most people will only need one or two.

Being consistent in Importing will help in preventing lost images. But images that have been imported are not really lost. Lightroom knows where they are and all you need to do is to know how to ask for your "lost" images.

Lightroom provides more ways to find your images than by merely looking through folders. In fact, that is usually the toughest way to find your images, especially if you've been importing into the who-knows-where folders.
The first thing to do is to become best friends with the Library Filter. If you know how to use it, you should be able to find any image you want.
Because Lightroom knows when your pictures have been taken and has recorded that information upon import (provide you've set the date/time on your camera), one of the easiest ways to find pictures is by date.
In the Library Filter, click on Metadata. You'll see four columns. If one of them is not already labeled "Date" then choose one and click on the label name and select "Date."

metadata-date

If you know approximately when the picture was taken, then search through the dates.
If you've recently imported the "lost" images, this will probably be the quickest and easiest way to find them.

Add Metadata early

And by early, I mean as soon as you've imported your images.
Chances are that all of the images you've just imported have commonalities, like where they were taken. So as soon as the images have been imported, add that information. If the pictures were taken in Olympic National Park, for instance, add that to the Location field in the Metadata panel, to the Keywords, or both. If the pictures were taken in or near a city or town, add that information to the City field.
If the field you need isn't visible, click on the arrows and choose the metadata scheme you need.

meta-location

location

In the Keywords panel, add one or more keywords. At this point you're still adding information to batches of images so make sure the information applies to all of them. With just this little bit of metadata added, you should be able to quickly locate any of your "lost" pictures.

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