Traveling Catalog


Today’s Question: Can you please give simple directions on how to create a travel catalog? I believe you can create one, then import it and add the photos to the main Lightroom catalog at home.

Tim’s Quick Answer: The basic workflow here is reasonably straightforward. For simplicity I recommend creating a “traveling” catalog on an external hard drive specifically for a given trip. Then import images into that catalog and onto that hard drive while traveling. You can then merge this traveling catalog with your master catalog when you return home.

More Detail: I should point out from the start that using an external hard drive as the “home” for a Lightroom catalog isn’t the best option from the standpoint of performance. However, this approach is a little simpler. So, keep in mind that you could make some changes to this workflow based on your priorities and comfort level. But for purposes of this question I’ll focus on a single approach.

The first step would be to create a new “traveling” catalog. So, launch Lightroom on the laptop computer you’ll be traveling with and connect an external hard drive that has enough capacity for both the catalog and the new photos you’ll capture during your trip. Then choose File > New Catalog from the menu. Navigate to the external hard drive in the “Create Folder with New Catalog” dialog and enter a name for the catalog. I recommend naming the catalog based on the trip you’ll be taking, just for clarity.

During the trip you can then work with that “traveling” catalog, importing new photos to the same external hard drive that the catalog is stored on. Along the way you can, of course, perform any work you’d like within Lightroom for those images. For example, you can assign keywords, apply star ratings, add other metadata, and apply adjustments in the Develop module.

When you return home, connect the external hard drive to the computer with your master Lightroom catalog. Launch Lightroom and make sure that your master catalog is open. Then choose File > Import from Another Catalog from the menu. Navigate to the external hard drive and select your traveling catalog as the basis of the import. In the following dialog, choose the option to copy the photos to a different location, and specify your primary storage location for photos as the destination. The existing folder structure for your “traveling” photos will be retained.

With this process you are able to work with your new captures while traveling without any limitations. Upon returning home you can then merge the photos and all of the information from your “traveling” catalog into your master catalog, so that the new photos will appear in that master catalog right alongside all of your existing photos.

Note that you can see this workflow in more detail in my video course “Tim’s Real Organizational Workflow” in the GreyLearning video training library here: