Top menu

Using Collections and Ratings

Posted by Rod Barbee on May 11, 2017

On nearly each day of the workshop we’ll be asking you to submit images. You’ll need a way to segregate images by things like subject matter, needs categories, and subjective quality. Collections and Ratings are the way to go.

On the first full day of the workshop we’ll be creating a shot list based on broad categories of our partners’ needs.

For example, at the Sitka workshop we’ll have categories such as:

  • Forests
    • Undergrowth
    • Old growth
    • Nurse logs
  • Streams
    • Logs in streams
    • Salmon habitat
    • Branches overhanging
  • Salmon
    • In streams
    • Processing
    • Being caught
  • Fishing
    • Commercial
    • Recreational

These are just a few to give you an idea.

Lightroom has the perfect tools to help organize this: Collections and Collection Sets. If you’re not using Lightroom, look for a similar feature in your image organizing software.

Collections and Collection Sets

Collections are a group of images. Collection Sets are a group of Collections.
In the above list, Forests, Streams, Salmon, and Fishing would be Collection Sets. The rest would be Collections.

Our suggestion is to create your own Collection Sets and Collections based upon the shot list we’ll come up with at the workshop. Put your best images for each category into their respective Collections. Images can be in more than one Collection if you like.
To create a Collection or Collection Set, go to the Library module and in the left-hand panel look for the Collections control pane. Click on the plus sign and make your choice.
You can then easily drag Collections from one Collection Set to another if needed.
For much more on Collections, see Victoria Bampton’s LR Missing FAQ books.

Star Ratings

You need a way of filtering out your best images quickly. Using Star Ratings makes finding your best images easy. As long as you don’t over use them that is.

  • Star Ratings should be used in a pyramid fashion with the highest ratings near the top of the pyramid.
  • This means there should be a lot fewer 5-Star rated pictures than 4-Star pictures and a lot less 3-Star pictures than 4-Star.

Here’s one approach to using Star Ratings:

  • No stars: An image that’s perfectly fine but not outstanding. No obvious focus or exposure flaws.
  • 1 star: Usually the best images of a series or an above average shot. During initial edits, all standouts get 1-Star to start with. Refined during second, third, fourth passes.
  • 2 stars: Publishable or worthy of recommendation to a client.
  • 3 stars: Portfolio shot. Worthy of extra processing attention and printing.
  • 4 stars: Best of portfolio level. Worthy of gallery prints. Used rarely.
  • 5 stars: Best of career. Images that have stood the test of time. Used rarely.

Use the keyboard shortcuts 1-5 to assign Star Ratings. 0 (zero) will clear the rating)

Once your images have star ratings, it’s easy to use Lightroom’s Library Filter to quickly find, say, all images with a Star Rating of 2 or greater.

Use the Attribute filter to search by criteria such as star ratings.


There are two flags you can use: Pick and Delete. Pick (P) puts a little white flag on the image thumbnail, Delete (X) puts a little black flag on the thumbnail. The Delete flag does not delete the image, it just marks if or deletion. You can bulk delete any images with a black flag. From the Library Module, go to the Menu > Photos > Delete Rejected Photos.
Using the Pick flag is an option when culling down images to a final submission.