Today’s Question: I use Lightroom Classic CC. It’s largely been a do it yourself process, and it is therefore a mess. Would it be a good idea to just clear out the whole thing and start over?
Tim’s Quick Answer: Starting over with a new catalog in Lightroom Classic CC should be the last option you consider, because this approach will most likely cause you to lose information about your photos.
More Detail: By default, all of the information you update about your photos in Lightroom Classic CC is only saved to the Lightroom catalog, not to the photos themselves. In that case if you abandon your catalog and start over with a new catalog, all of the changes you’ve made in Lightroom will be lost.
If you have enabled the option to automatically save metadata to your photos (or you have saved that information manually) then much of the updated information will be with the photos themselves, and therefore would be included in a new catalog after importing those photos. However, this would not preserve all of the information from your original catalog.
There is a variety of information that Lightroom only writes to the catalog, without saving the information to your actual image files. This includes pick and reject flags, collections, history, and virtual copies, for example. So even if you had saved the metadata to the actual photos, if you created a new catalog and imported the photos into that new catalog, these details would be lost in the process.
Of course, if you have an extreme mess in Lightroom than creating a new catalog and starting over might be the path of least resistance. But before you do that I would suggest reviewing my “Cleaning Up Your Mess in Lightroom” course. This course features over five hours of video lessons to help you get your Lightroom catalog (and your workflow) back in order. You can get more details here: