Today’s Question: For reasons that are beyond me I find certain photos in Lightroom (often ones I have worked on in Photoshop and saved back to Lightroom) have been grayed out and I have no idea how to recover the file. Lightroom tells me the file is missing. Can you help?
Tim’s Quick Answer: I have found that the most common cause for missing photos in this specific scenario is that the “Save As” command was used in Photoshop. Instead, when you send a photo from Lightroom to Photoshop you want to only use the “Save” command, then close the image and return to Lightroom.
More Detail: The issue I describe here is clearly somewhat intermittent, and I’ve only been able to reproduce it a handful of times. However, I’ve seen enough photographers run into this that it is clear to me that it is an issue.
As a general rule, the most important step you can take to avoid having missing images in Lightroom is to make sure that all tasks you perform with your photos are initiated from within Lightroom. Whether you’re updating metadata, getting photos reorganized, optimizing the appearance of a photo, or anything else, that task should always start inside of Lightroom. Otherwise, the catalog will get confused as to the location of some of the photos being managed within the catalog.
As noted above, it is also important to make sure that when you send a photo from Lightroom to Photoshop (using the Edit In command found on the Photo menu), that you don’t use the Save As command within Photoshop. Instead, when you’re finished working in Photoshop, simply choose File > Save from the menu, followed by File > Close. This should ensure that the updated photo will always still be included within your Lightroom catalog, and will never appear to be “missing” from within that catalog.