Virtual Copies Removed with Source


Today’s Question: If you delete the original image, does Lightroom Classic also delete the virtual copy?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, removing an original photo from your Lightroom Classic catalog will cause any virtual copies created from that original photo to also be removed.

More Detail: Virtual copies represent an additional interpretation of a source photo. When you create a virtual copy in Lightroom Classic you aren’t making a copy of the source photo, but rather simply creating an additional set of metadata based on the original. You could then have different metadata and different adjustments in the Develop module for the virtual copy versus the source photo.

You can also create multiple virtual copies of a single source image, so that you have a variety of interpretations of the source photo. This can be helpful for a variety of situations, such as when you’re trying to decide how to interpret a photo in terms of various adjustments, or you need different versions of a photo for different purposes.

A virtual copy is directly tied to the source photo it was based upon. If you move a source photo to a different folder, for example, any virtual copies based on that photo will be moved along with the original into the new folder location. Similarly, if you delete a source photo (or even just remove it from your catalog) any virtual copies created from that photo will also be removed from Lightroom Classic.

So, you can think of virtual copies as being permanently connected to the source photo. While you can have different metadata or Develop adjustments for a source photo compared to a virtual copy, moving or deleting a source photo will also remove the virtual copies based on that source photo.