Please read Getting Started: What Does “Import” Mean in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom? before proceeding with this tutorial.
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is designed to index a lifetime’s worth of digital photography. Lightroom creates a database which acts likes a library’s “card catalog.” Thanks to the index, it is easy for a professional photographer to find one specific image out of the thousands that are stored on their computer in seconds.
Lightroom creates thumbnails that act as placeholders for each of your digital captures. Search results are almost instantaneous because Lightroom only needs to flip through the entries in its database. We have a number of videos for Lightroom beginners in in the Getting Started Right with Lightroom 3 section of our website. Before you start adding thousands of images into your Lightroom Catalog, I suggest reading all of these posts on how Lightroom works, and on how to best set up your preferences.
Learning Lightroom is a lot easier if you have all of the settings and templates in place before you start adding thousands of files into your Lightroom index. If you are new to this software and the importing process then I urge you to watch this tutorial on how to build an Import Preset in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 before you go any further. An Import Preset can make life simpler and make importing files into your index far more efficient.
Lightroom’s “Add Photos to My Catalog” without moving or copying is a good option for those who have been using Lightroom for a while. This choice tells Lightroom simply to create thumbnails and reference points for your files where they currently live. I use the “Add” without moving or copying option when I want to add folders full of images into my index without changing anything about where these files are stored or what these files is called.
You might also want to click here for more information on how to use Lightroom to copy / move images from folder to folder or from one drive to another.