Today’s Question: When traveling I usually like to download my daily photos to Lightroom on my laptop and the do things like add keywords and star ratings, and start to delete those I do not want. When I download from the same card the next day I find that all my deleted photos reappear. What do I need to do to make sure this does not happen?
Tim’s Quick Answer: It sounds like you’re not reformatting the cards after downloading. So, you either need to format the cards after downloading your photos (making sure you have the photos backed up first!), or employ a workflow that doesn’t involve deleting your photos until the end of your travels.
More Detail: When you import photos into your Lightroom catalog with the “Don’t Import Suspected Duplicates” checkbox turned on in the Import dialog, the photos in the location you have set as the source are compared to the photos currently in the catalog. Various file and metadata attributes are compared to determine if any of the photos being imported are duplicates of photos already in the catalog.
If you have deleted photos from the catalog, and then re-import the same photos, the “Don’t Import Suspected Duplicates” feature won’t prevent the photos that had been deleted from being imported again. Put simply, under these circumstances the re-imported photos don’t represent duplicate images based on the current state of your catalog.
It is, of course, perfectly reasonable to not format your digital media cards during a trip, so that you retain an additional backup copy of all of your photos. However, this approach then requires a workflow approach that does not involve deleting unwanted photos from your catalog, at least until you are finished downloading all photos from all cards that contain photos captured during the trip.
Another solution in this type of situation would be to use the “Reject” flag to identify photos you intend to delete later. The Reject flag can be added to a photo by pressing the letter “X” on the keyboard. You could then enable a filter to hide photos with a “Reject” flag, which essentially creates a similar experience to having deleted the photos. And when you are finished with your trip, there is even a “Delete Rejected Photos” command on the Photo menu that makes it easy to delete the photos you would have otherwise deleted along the way.