Adobe Lightroom is a program with its lights and shadows, especially every time it is compared with Capture One. But it must be recognized that the Library module is the best it has by far. The well-organized catalog allows you to find any photo in less than five seconds. But if we are not clear about its operation, we can lose any file. Let’s help find the lost photos from our Lightroom catalog.
In my workflow I always use Adobe Lightroom to save and classify my photos. And when everything is organized I pass the complete information, including keywords, to Capture One to reveal them there. If I’m in a hurry, I stay in the Adobe environment with no problem.
The key to Adobe Lightroom is the catalog, which also adopted Capture One. It is important to understand what the Catalog is, because many students do not understand it well and it ends up being a source of continuous problems.
The Catalog is a file that contains a miniature copy of all the photographs that we have imported, put simply. That is, what we see are copies, not the originals.
If the catalog has the reference of the original and you know its location perfectly, we will never have problems.
And so that everything works well, the catalog must know where the original files are located, unless we do smart previews, but this is another story. If the catalog has the reference of the original and you know its location perfectly, we will never have problems.
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Why are photos lost in the Lightroom Catalog?
There are several reasons. Most, although it pains us to admit it, it is our fault. I always recommend the same to avoid problems:
If you work with Adobe Lightroom, make any changes (name and location especially) within the program, never in the operating system.
It’s that simple. Of course we are free to make changes outside of the program, but if we want to avoid problems, this is the best advice we can give. This way, Lightroom will always have the exact location of the original and will never lose a file.
Also if we change, for example, a site folder in the operating system, we will have twice the work, because later we will have to do it in the program. While if we do it in Lightroom, it will take care of changing the destination of the original files.
If we do not follow this simple advice, it will be easier for the alarms to go off, the warning icons, and we will not find that photograph that we had so hard to get …
Another reason for loss is that we save the photos on external hard drives and we forget to connect them when opening the program. To avoid this I also have a recommendation:
Save all your photos on a single hard drive and make all the necessary backups. That hard drive, to work faster, should be internal.
It is a very bad idea to have the photos on several hard drives, cards and so on.. For a better organization and classification of our work, the ideal is to have everything together on a hard drive. And make backups, of course.
To summarize, these are the reasons why we lose photographs in the catalog:
- Rename the file or folder outside the catalog.
- Change the location of the file or folder outside of the program.
- Rename the hard drive where the files are outside of the program.
- Delete the file or folder outside the program.
- We have not correctly saved the file in Photoshop after I finish developing it.
Find lost photos in Lightroom
There is a little trick, a tool that I have discovered thanks to Scott Kelby, that allows to identify all the lost photos.
In the module library we have to go to the menu Library> Find All Missing Photos. Until now I was looking for them in the panel Catalog> Missing Photographs. In the end it is the same, but there are two ways to access the same place.
In my case I have four missing photographs. Three of them appear to be localized because I have smart previews. What does this mean? That the program does not know where the original file is, but it allows me to develop and work with the photographs as long as I do not remove them from Lightroom.
But the other photograph is totally lost. I can’t even see its histogram … If I want to be able to do something with it, I have no choice but to follow one of the three options that we indicate:
Once the lost files are located, identified with a warning icon (in the upper right corner), we just have to click on it and tell it where they are now. It is true that we will have to look for them, but if we have been careful and have saved them all on a single hard drive, everything will be easier.
Another thing is the files that we have finished editing in Photoshop … When we save them we have to always mark File> Save. This is how we will get the Tiff or jpeg that we generate is saved next to the RAW original. It is the easiest way to achieve it.
Another way would be to save it where we want with Adobe Photoshop and later, when we return to Lightroom, right-click on the chosen folder and mark Sync folder in the menu that will appear.
With this last option we can make another more drastic decision, which is right click on the mother folder and Synchronize folder all folders to find and locate all photos… Depending on how your catalog is, it can be something immediate or a torture of time.
It may seem a bit complex. We can only cheer up a bit and complete the catalog with all the photographs that we have lost over the years … We are sure to get more than one surprise.