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Archive 2013 · What is your Lightroom Strategy?
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · What is your Lightroom Strategy?

What I mean is...how do you manage Lightroom? How do you have it setup?

Some examples:

Do you have multiple catalogs?
What goes in what catalog?
How do you keep track of multiple catalogs?
How long before previews are discarded?
Do you do 1:1 previews?
How often do you repair your catalog?
Did you disable any modules?

etc, etc.

I'm feeling that I need to "optimize" my setup for Lightroom. What do you do?

Mar 08, 2013 at 09:19 PM
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · What is your Lightroom Strategy?

I keep it very simple and I have Lightroom (version 4.3 currently) running without problems on several computers, including one with an old Q9550 processor.

The actual Lightroom software, catalog, and images are all located on separate hard drives. Those drives are then backed up using third-party backup software to yet other drives. I use Acronis True Image to backup my system drive daily, Lightroom's backup feature to save my catalog daily to another drive (this isn't the default setting), and Second Copy to backup my images daily.

I use one single catalog; multiple catalogs impair the ability to search quickly and efficiently. I also don't create 1:1 previews; instead I build standard previews on import and 1:1 only when necessary. I also don't typically optimize my catalog manually; there's an option to do so when backing up the catalog so when its enable it will optimize both the backup and the active catalogs.

One command you should be familiar with is to hold down the CTRL key when double-clicking the desktop icon. That gives you the ability to select among different catalogs to open and to test the integrity of that catalog.

Mar 08, 2013 at 09:49 PM

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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · What is your Lightroom Strategy?

Here's a question I've spent far too much time thinking about! But I think I've finally arrived at a solution that works for me and my casual shooting frequency.

I've got a single catalog and into this catalog I only import shots that I'm going to process. I accomplish this by rather aggressive in-camera deletion (despite the arguments against this) and using Photo Mechanic to select only the images worth processing and dragging those into LR. That way everything in my catalog is edited or going to be edited and it's nice and clean to browse. I've taken to shooting RAW+JPEG as well, so anything very casual, i.e. snapshots that I never intend to process, gets pulled off the card as a JPEG and just dumped into some folders I've got for this purpose.

Because I'm limiting what comes in, I always do 1:1 previews and never discard them, because I have some of my library on an external drive that isn't always attached.

As for Lightroom setup, I disable every module but Library and Develop, turn all palettes to solo mode, and set the left and right panels to be independent of one another. I've also turned off most of the sections in the right-hand Library palette, as I never use Quick Develop.


1) Open card in Photo Mechanic
2) Browse through, mark anything I'd like to edit
3) Drag the marked files into Lightroom
4) They are copied to my RAW folders and sorted using the date structure Lightroom defaults to
5) They are renamed XX_20130101_00001, where XX is my initials, then date, then a sequence number that is running total of all shots I've imported into Lightroom (no use for original filenames)
6) Shots are sorted in to catalogs (I don't shoot enough to fuss with keywords). Catalogs are either shoot specific (if it's a big shoot) or just ongoing, e.g. Landscapes
7) Shots are processed, I'll usually rate them once they are done, that way I know anything with a rating is processed.
8) Shots with a high enough rating are published online wherever
9) I've recently started exporting full res JPEGs into an Exports folder. Although unnecessary, I find it handy to be able to grab these quickly

I've struggled a fair bit with this over the years and have recently come to the conclusion that what works best for me is to only have my finalized, edited shots in Lightroom. Anything else is garbage, or a shoebox keeper. I may eventually get around to using iPhoto for all those miscellaneous family shots, phone shots, etc.

Mar 08, 2013 at 10:14 PM
Bryan Mordt
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · What is your Lightroom Strategy?

I like organizing my catalogs by the type of photography (i.e. Portraits, Wedding, Events, Product). I then use the default folder organization by dates. For backing up my catalogs I use a free program called freefilesync...


The file sync app is very nice and runs fairly quick, much better than my previous app which was Microsoft Synctoy.

I also picked up and external usb 3.0 hard drive dock from Newegg that is very nice...


Mar 09, 2013 at 03:52 AM
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · What is your Lightroom Strategy?

One catalog is best for searching for personal use, but if you have clearly different categories as some above, multiples probably make more sense, (Weddings, product photog, etc). I have about 60,000 images in my catalog and it is not a problem

one month for previews unless space is a problem, 1:1
Repair randomly
no modules disabled, although I do not use them all

Mar 09, 2013 at 06:32 PM

Search in Used Dept. 

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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · What is your Lightroom Strategy?

I use just one catalog because it's far too difficult to switch catalogs or to search across multiple catalogs for me to muck around with more than one unless and until I have so many tens of thousands of photos that one catalog cannot cope. For mere mortals that does not happen. Chances are that it never will because Lr capabilities and capacities will be upgraded as time goes by.

The full benefit of Lr search facilities is achieved only of you use a single catalog. Then it can find whatever you need wherever it is. Use keywords, metadata, attributes and collections to help with your own organisation.

Everything I import gets the 1:1 previews because it greatly speeds up looking at zoomed-in previews when browsing and editing in the Library module. However, once the bulk of editing is done I delete those 1:1 previews. They'll get rebuilt as required if I ever do more editing in the develop module.

I optimize and backup the catalog every time I exit Lr. No exceptions.

The catalog also gets backed up often by my usual backup strategy outside Lr. To speed things up and to avoid clutter I do not use .xmp files and that is all the more reason to carefully backup the catalog onto multiple media.

I don't disable anything in Lr except for writing data to .xmp files. I have read that it makes no performance advantage to do so.

I use a combination of ratings and labels to identify my best images (and worst, and all in between). I then concentrate my editing efforts on the better images. The others only get enough to determine what rating or label they deserve. Ratings for how much I like the image. Labels for technical quality. Combination for overall score. Use smart collections to identify the appropriate combinations - they can be easily reprogrammed if required.

- Alan

Mar 10, 2013 at 01:32 PM
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · What is your Lightroom Strategy?

Thanks for all of the responses! Keep them coming

Mar 11, 2013 at 07:17 PM
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · What is your Lightroom Strategy?

I mainly use one catalog for the current photos in Lightroom. The older images (like 2010 images) are exported out to a separate catalog and then removed from the current catalog, to keep the catalog size reasonable.

I have LR automatically backup and optimize the catalog each time I exit LR. The backup is stored on the same drive as my externally backed up copies of the images (not the same drive as my working images or catalog).

CURIOUS ... how do you guys disable modules in LR? Does it really help speed things up?

Mar 30, 2013 at 04:57 AM
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · What is your Lightroom Strategy?

I have only about 15,000 images in one catalog. I write changes to XML files so I have a lot of files.

I copy files from camera cards to folders in a directory structure that is based mostly on the location of the shoot. Studio shoots are organized by project, then by shooting day.

I import and keyword from the HD directories and then cull in LR, deleting culls from the catalog only. They are never deleted from the HD.

I then use stars and flags to select and sort down to the best of the session. I unflag everything and flag the "keepers" Which might be one from each setup for a studio product shoot.

If I have to deliver files to the customer, I export them with suitable file names, file format, file size, etc. I have export presets to cover most of my usual requirements.

I use LRs auto backup, but my entire /photos directory is backed up to an external hard drive every night.

I don't disable any modules, but have disabled screen elements (film strip) that I don't use.


Mar 30, 2013 at 05:17 AM
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · What is your Lightroom Strategy?

file, import, select folder where i want my images to go to, edit and delete, right click export to same as original file, done. that's my process. then i re-export to a new folder call "for web" and change the file size and done.

Apr 01, 2013 at 06:05 PM

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