Exporting Photo with XMP

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Today’s Question: Is it possible to export a picture [from Lightroom] along with an XMP sidecar file, on demand, such as when I need to send a picture to a magazine?

Tim’s Quick Answer: If your photo is a proprietary RAW capture you can export a copy of the original capture file along with an XMP sidecar file that contains most of the metadata for the image (as well as Lightroom adjustment settings from the Develop module). However, it is probably best to use a different format (such as TIFF or JPEG) for this purpose, so that the adjustments you’ve applied will be included as part of the pixel values. You can also choose which metadata to include within that exported copy of your master image.

More Detail: When you export a photo from Lightroom you have the choice of which file format to use for the resulting file. You also have some choices related to which metadata you’d like to include in the resulting image. And of course there are other settings to choose from as part of the Export process.

As a general rule I recommend using a TIFF (or JPEG) image when exporting a copy of a photo for publication in some form, depending of course on the specific requirements of the output process being used for the photos. Among other things, that will ensure that you are providing an image file that has all of your adjustments applied to it, and the metadata you’d like to include saved within that image file.

If you send a copy of the original RAW capture, along with the XMP sidecar file, then you are depending on the recipient of those files to have Lightroom (or Adobe Camera Raw) in order to view or process your image with your adjustments applied to it. If for any reason you ever need to use this approach, you can simply choose the “Original” from the Image Format popup in the File Settings section of the Export dialog. An XMP file will be created along with a copy of the original RAW capture as part of the export process.

If you choose an option other than “Original”, such as “TIFF” or “JPEG”, then an XMP file will not be created as part of the process. Instead, any applicable metadata will be stored within the image file that is created as part of this export process. You can choose from several options using the Include popup in the Metadata section of the Export dialog. For example, if you want to minimize the amount of metadata information included within the image file you might choose the “Copyright & Contact Info Only” option from this popup.

The key is to understand what type of file is best suited for your particular needs. For the example of a magazine submission mentioned in today’s question, a TIFF or JPEG file will generally be preferred. But when sending files to others for any purpose it is always important to understand their specific requirements, taking into account what you’re comfortable sharing in terms of file types, overall image size, and metadata details.