Adobe Lightroom Tips and Techniques – How to Organize Your Digital Photos! Learn About Adobe Lightroom Catalog Options


Now that we have our pictures in Lightroom and they are in good directories, it’s time to go a little further. As a parent, your number one task is organization. You can get back to everything else later, but if your photos are not organized, then nothing else is going to work for you.


Lightroom provides several levels of organization. The first is the Catalog. For the basic user, there will only ever be one Catalog. However, as an enlightened photographer parent, you can use Catalogs to your advantage. The main thing to remember about Catalogs is that you can only have one Catalog open at a time. So, while you can freely move between photos in different folders or collections, moving to a different Catalog means leaving the one you are in. The only way to get to a photo in another catalog is to import it into the catalog you are using. Thus, catalogs are for hard and fast separation.

Different catalogs are best used for different kinds of photos. So, for example, I have a catalog that has all the photos I take for my artistic purposes, a catalog that has all the photos that I take to sell as stock photographs, a catalog that has all the photos I take in my portrait studio, and of course, a catalog for all of my family photos. As a parent, keep all the family pictures in one catalog. Everything else can go in other catalogs.

Virtual Only

The last thing to really understand about catalogs is that they are virtual. That means that there are no actual photo files in them. Your photos are still in the same place on your hard drive. The catalog contains a pointer that tells Lightroom where the photo is, but it does not contain the photo file itself. You can delete a photo from the catalog without deleting it from the hard drive.

The catalog stores everything you do to a photo while inside Lightroom. If you tag a file, the tag is stored in the catalog, same thing with ratings, flags, edits, the works. The important thing to note here is that nothing is actually done to your file on the disk. So, if you tweak a picture inside Lightroom and then you go to your email program and attach the file that is on your disk, none of your tweaks will be on that file and the person getting the email will get the un-tweaked photo. This is especially important for ordering photos online. If you just send in the files via their uploading software, you won’t get your changes on your prints.

Backing Up

You may have noticed that almost everything you ever do in Lightroom is only in Lightroom’s catalog. If you lose the catalog, you lose all of your work. That is why it is critical that you backup the catalog. Adobe makes doing so a snap and I highly recommend that you take advantage of the Automatic backup settings.

This post is part of the series: Adobe Lightroom For Parents

In a world with five thousand digital photography programs, how come it seems like none of them are made for parents? Actually, Adobe Lightroom is perfect for the parent photographer. It’s just that all the manuals are not. Get everything you need for your digital photos with Adobe Lightroom.
  1. Adobe Lightroom is Perfect for Parents
  2. Customizing Adobe Lightroom For The Parent Photographer
  3. Adobe Lightroom for Parents – How to Organize Your Digital Photos
  4. Using the Survey Tool in Adobe Lightroom – Organize Your Digital Photos