Photoshop without Lightroom Classic


Today’s Question: I’m a Lightroom Classic user, but I admittedly have opened photos in Photoshop directly. Do I have to import that revised photo into Lightroom Classic? Also, will I lose the history of the changes if I opened in Photoshop directly, then imported into Lightroom Classic?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The specific impact here would depend on some of the particular details of the file type and workflow used, but Lightroom Classic would not reflect the work you had done using Photoshop unless you import photos or synchronize metadata.

More Detail: I recommend sending images from Lightroom Classic to Photoshop using the Photo > Edit In > Edit in Adobe Photoshop command from the menu, rather than opening an image directly in Photoshop. What happens if you open an image directly in Photoshop depends on some of the specific details.

If you open a raw capture directly in Photoshop, you’ll be presented with the Camera Raw interface to make changes to the adjustment settings. This is effectively the same as the Develop module in Lightroom Classic. Any changes made in Camera Raw would not be reflected in Lightroom Classic unless you then synchronized the metadata from the image on the hard drive. Of course, when you synchronize in this way there is a risk that information that had been updated in Lightroom Classic could be lost, depending on the timing of the changes.

If you create a derivative image in Photoshop, such as by saving the image that results from the processing with Camera Raw, that image will not be included in your Lightroom Classic catalog unless you import that photo. In this type of situation, I recommend synchronizing the folder that contains that derivative image, assuming you’ve saved the derivative image in the same folder as the original raw capture.

To synchronize a folder in Lightroom Classic in order to import photos in that folder that are not included in the catalog you can right-click on the folder and choose Synchronize Folder from the popup menu. In the dialog that appears you’ll be able to see how many “new” photos are in that folder, with the option to import them into the catalog.

Again, I recommend sending photos from Lightroom Classic to Photoshop in order to avoid the potential confusion that can result from opening photos directly in Photoshop instead. For a raw capture sent to Photoshop from Lightroom Classic, when you’re finished working in Photoshop be sure to use the File > Save command (not Save As) to update the derivative image on the hard drive, and then close the image. You will then find that new derivative image alongside the original within your Lightroom Classic catalog.