Today’s Question: Do you keep all photos in one catalog in Lightroom Classic or multiple catalogs, and why?
Tim’s Quick Answer: I am a very strong advocate for using only a single catalog to manage all of your photos with Lightroom Classic, in order to streamline your workflow and avoid confusion.
More Detail: Lightroom Classic uses a catalog to manage the information about your photos, which among other things enables you to quickly search for photos across your entire catalog of images.
I feel it is best to use a single catalog to manage all of your photos. This enables you to simply launch Lightroom Classic whenever you want to work with any of your photos, without first having to figure out which catalog to open. It also makes it possible to cross reference any of your photos, since all images would be in the same catalog.
Using multiple catalogs means you need to first make sure you’ve opened the right catalog based on the images you want to work with. It also introduces the risk that you’ll use the wrong catalog, such as importing photos into the wrong catalog.
If you feel it is best to separate photos into different catalogs for some reason, I suggest there may be a better solution, such as dividing photos by category across more than one hard drive, using collections, keywords, or other metadata to categorize the photos.
The argument I often hear in favor of multiple catalogs in performance. I can assure you from extensive experience working with my own catalog of over 400,000 photos and a variety of demo catalogs I use for teaching with far fewer images, the difference in performance is minimal. A large catalog takes a little longer to open, but in my experience once you’re working in Lightroom Classic the performance is the same regardless of the catalog size.