It used to be that multiple catalogs were a necessity in Adobe Lightroom. If you didn’t create multiple catalogs you could be faced with a pretty slow program. Or with regular use, you’d hit a limit.
That’s no longer the case, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of reasons to hold onto this habit, especially if you’re saving a large number of photographs on a regular basis, and want to keep your photos organized.
What Is a Lightroom Catalog?
A Lightroom catalog is NOT where your actual photo files are stored. When you import photos into Lightroom, the files remain in the folder they were imported from. The catalog actually references the original locations of photos and doesn’t duplicate them. Any changes you make to a photo are stored separately, then combined when you actually export the image.
To create a new catalog, just go to File > New Catalog.
Why You Should Use Multiple Catalogs
- Silos: If you’re using one computer for both personal and work tasks or several people are working on one machine, you can keep your sets of photos separate with the use of catalogs. If you have several clients that you work with on a regular basis, you can create a catalog for each one. This will make it easier to find what you’re looking for and keep you focused.
- Ease of Use: Lightroom offers many ways to keep your photos organized. You can tag them or you can organize them in folders and smart collections. But at the end of the day, nothing could be easier than creating multiple catalogs if you want to stay organized and don’t want to create an elaborate system.
- Easy Transfer: Because each catalog is smaller and more manageable, it will be easier and faster to transfer or backup to another location if necessary.
If you’re an amateur photographer or aren’t taking photos on a regular basis and simply don’t expect to end up with large catalogs associated with each shoot or client, using a single catalog might be a better option for you.
Multiple catalogs is a particularly good approach if you’re a photographer using Lightroom on a professional level.