Today’s Question: I am moving my photos from one external hard drive to another with a slight change to the folder structure in the process. Is it recommended to just create a new catalog for the new folder structure by just importing with the “Add” option? If I do that, will I lose track of all the modifications that I’ve made in the past within Lightroom Classic?
Tim’s Quick Answer: No, I do not recommend re-importing photos to account for a modified folder structure. Rather, you should modify the folder structure from directly within Lightroom Classic.
More Detail: There are two potential problems created by making changes to your overall folder or storage structure outside of Lightroom Classic.
First, if you make changes to the folder structure outside of Lightroom Classic then the connections to your photos will be lost. You would then need to reconnect the missing folders and photos, which could be an arduous task if the changes to the folder structure were significant.
If you try to overcome this issue by importing the photos from their modified folder structure into a new catalog using the “Add” option, then you will lose at least some of the information about your photos. If you had enabled the option to automatically save metadata updates to XMP sidecar files in the Catalog Settings dialog, then most standard metadata would be preserved.
However, with this approach of importing photos from a new location you would lose Lightroom-specific features such as collections, virtual copies, and the history within the Develop module, among other information.
Therefore, I strongly recommend making any desired changes to your folder or storage structure from within Lightroom Classic. That includes the ability to rename folders, create new folders, move folders or photos to a different location, and more. The key is to perform all of that work within Lightroom Classic to avoid disconnected photos or missing metadata.
Note that these issues (and much more) are covered in my comprehensive video course “Cleaning Up Your Mess in Lightroom Classic”, which you can learn more about here: