Clean up your Lightroom Mess & Never Lose a Photo Again (VIDEO)

This powerful tutorial begins with the following shocking claim by instructor Mark Dumbleton: "I've never lost a photo in 15 years." You're probably rolling your eyes and thinking, "I wish I could say that myself."

Dumbleton is a South African pro specializing in landscape and wildlife photography, and his lack of frustration when searching for an image isn't due to dumb luck (despite his name). He credits his ability to always locate a file quickly to a "foolproof" system he developed for creating perfect Lightroom catalogs. There's plenty other stuff to worry about, so you should pay close attention and follow his straightforward advice.

You'll learn to harness the power of Lightroom's Smart Collections, and how Dumbleton employs these tools to great effect in the one and only catalog he uses to keep his work immediately accessible. Keep in mind that Dumbleton's solitary catalog contains over 43,000 images dating back to 2007!

Dumbleton is ruthless when culling his photos, noting that, "I find it easier managing just one catalog, and I don't like keeping photos if I don't need to—otherwise my images would count in the millions." He stores all of his photos in one master folder on a high-capacity external hard drive. He then creates subfolders broken down into years and then respective trips. Each of these trip folders are identified by month, year, and location.

While the images themselves reside on an eternal drive, Dumbleton's catalog lives  locally on his MacBook Pro. He explains that this insures that Lightroom runs at optimal speeds. As you'll see, Dumbleton identifies each image with star rating, precise keywords, color labels, and flags.

With labeling out of the way, Dumbleton moves on to the four-step system he uses to keep his catalog streamlined and in top shape. You see how he employs the previously mentioned attributes to properly organize the images.

His four-step approach is super simple: Import, Curate, Backup, and edit. The last five minutes of this important lesson explains how each of these components work together to create a clean, perfect catalog that has never let him down. It may take some effort for you to convert to Dumbleton's approach, but it's a one-time task that will forever protect your valuable files.

After watching the video pay a visit to Dumbleton's YouTube channel that contains more great advice for shooting and editing your work.

And on a related note, be sure to check out the earlier tutorial we posted that explains what's new in Adobe Bridge, the company's updated file browser.