Today’s Question: If I create a virtual copy in Lightroom Classic and then edit the photo, do the changes get reflected in the original photo?
Tim’s Quick Answer: No, the changes you make to a virtual copy are not reflected in the original photo from which the virtual copy was created.
More Detail: When you create a virtual copy in Lightroom Classic, that virtual copy inherits the metadata from the original photo. So, for example, the information about camera settings would be duplicated from the original in the virtual copy, as would other metadata from the original capture. Any updates you had made to the original image before creating the virtual copy, such as keywords and star ratings, would also be inherited by the virtual copy.
However, once a virtual copy is created, changes made to metadata from that point forward are not synchronized automatically between the virtual copy and the original. So, for example, if you update metadata for a virtual copy, those changes are not reflected in the original photo. And if you update metadata for the original photo, those changes will not be reflected in the virtual copy that had been created previously.
The idea is that a virtual copy represents a second interpretation of the original photo, including both metadata updates and adjustments. So a virtual copy inherits the settings from the original when it is created, but from that point forward the virtual copy and the original behave as though they were two different photos, just based on the same original raw capture.
Note that you can synchronize metadata across multiple images, including virtual copies. So it is possible to make updates to metadata or adjustments that apply equally to both a virtual copy and the original photo the virtual copy is based on.