Workflow for Multiple Virtual Copies


Today’s Question: After making the first virtual copy in Lightroom Classic, when I want to make another version of the image should I make the additional virtual copy from the original or from the first virtual copy?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You should create a new virtual copy based on the source image you want the new virtual copy to be based on, whether that is the original image or a previously created virtual copy.

More Detail: Virtual copies in Lightroom Classic inherit the adjustments from the source used to create the virtual copy. For example, let’s assume the original image is in color, and a virtual copy based on that image has been converted to black and white. If you then create a new virtual copy based on the original, that new virtual copy will be in color. If you create a new virtual copy based on the black and white virtual copy, the new virtual copy will be in black and white.

So, you can choose to create a virtual copy based on any image, whether it is an original image or a virtual copy.

Since each virtual copy includes its own metadata and adjustments, I recommend updating the original image with all metadata updates you want to apply and at least a base level of adjustments in the Develop module. While virtual copies can be used to manage different sets of metadata, such as keywords, for different versions of the image, in general they are used for different visual interpretations of the same source image.

After updating all intended metadata fields and applying at least basic adjustments in the Develop module, you can then create a virtual copy if you want to have an additional interpretation of the photo. From that point additional virtual copies can be created to have additional versions of the photo, and you can create that additional virtual copy based on which image you want to use as the starting point for the overall look of the new virtual copy.