Today’s Question: Why would someone export images from a main catalog in Lightroom Classic to a separate catalog? And does doing so remove the photos from the main catalog?
Tim’s Quick Answer: There aren’t too many reasons for exporting photos from Lightroom Classic to another catalog. One reason would be to export photos intended to be merged into a “master” catalog after returning from a photo trip, for example. When you do export photos to a separate catalog, those photos are not removed from the source catalog. Therefore, it is important to be careful about this process in order to avoid confusion with multiple copies of your photos in multiple catalogs.
More Detail: The “Export as Catalog” command enables you to export photos from the current Lightroom Classic catalog to another catalog, along with the information about those photos.
At a very basic level, using the “Export as Catalog” command provides an option for creating a backup copy of your primary Lightroom catalog, at least for a portion of the photos contained within the master catalog.
In addition, the “Export as Catalog” command enables you to create a copy of the source image files for the photos selected for export, provided you turn on the “Export negative files” checkbox when configuring the export. That means you could have a backup of both your photos (the source files) plus the information about your photos (a new catalog for the exported photos). With this approach, the new catalog created with the “Export as Catalog” command would contain all of the information about your photos from the master catalog.
One of the scenarios where the “Export as Catalog” command can be helpful is when you need to move images from a “temporary” catalog to your “master” catalog. For example, you might be traveling with a laptop, with your master Lightroom catalog back on your primary computer at home. During the trip you could import photos into a traveling catalog, updating metadata for the photos within that catalog.
At the conclusion of the trip, you would naturally want to merge the photos captured during the trip into your normal workflow at home, along with the information about the photos that you updated while traveling. You could use the “Export as Catalog” command to create a copy of your photos along with the information about your photos, perhaps to an external hard drive.
You could then connect the external hard drive to your primary computer back at home, and use the “Import from Another Catalog” command to import the photos you had exported using the “Export as Catalog” command.
Keep in mind that the “Export as Catalog” command does not remove photos from the catalog you’re exporting from. Therefore, you would need to manage this overall process carefully. If the catalog you’re exporting from is a temporary working catalog for a trip, you could simply discard that catalog. If it is a separate catalog you use for other purposes, you may want to remove the exported photos from that catalog manually.