When to Use Multiple Catalogs


Today’s Question: Under what circumstances do you feel it is a good idea to have multiple catalogs in Lightroom Classic CC?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The only time I think it may be helpful to have your photos divided up among more than one catalog in Lightroom is when there is a need to keep certain photos separated from others. But frankly, even then you could still use a single catalog and divide those photos through other means, such as storing them on different hard drives or using metadata values to identify the various categories of images.

More Detail: It seems that many photographers want to maintain multiple catalogs in Lightroom, or at least the idea seems to make sense early on. Eventually, in my experience many photographers who start out with multiple catalogs realize that this approach adds complexity and potential confusion to their workflow. That is when they decide it would be best to merge their catalogs into a single “master” catalog, which is a decision I am in complete agreement with.

As I mentioned in my answer in yesterday’s Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter, I recommend keeping your image-management workflow as simple as possible. Ideally that means storing all of your photos on a single storage device and using a single Lightroom catalog to manage those photos. This approach means you always know which catalog your photos are in, because it is your only catalog. And it would also mean you know which drive a given photo is on, because it is your only drive.

You can then use the folder structure, keywords, star ratings, and other metadata to identify the various properties of your photos that you can later use to locate any photo you need.

If you’d like to merge multiple Lightroom catalogs, and otherwise cleanup your workflow, you can get a special “New Year’s Resolution” discount on my full bundle of video courses on Lightroom by using this link to get started: