Today’s Question: Is there any way to lock or save a collection [in Lightroom Classic] so that it cannot be changed without a verifying question?
Tim’s Quick Answer: There is not a way to lock a collection in Lightroom Classic, but you could use other metadata to help preserve the status of photos that belong to a particular collection.
More Detail: Collections are a great way to group photos together for a purpose that goes beyond the folder structure you use to organize your images. For example, I use collections to group photos together for various projects, such as when I’m going to be presenting at an event or for photos I share to my Instagram feed, for example.
Once you’ve finished adding all photos to a collection for a particular project, it would be nice to be able to lock a collection so you can’t add or remove photos without unlocking the collection. Unfortunately, that feature is not currently available in Lightroom Classic.
However, you could use metadata to help identify photos as being part of a particular collection, so that even if the collection were lost or changed you would still be able to identify the images that were originally included in the collection.
For example, I use a concept I refer to as “fake keywords” to identify the status of certain images. I use “InstagramShare” as a keyword for photos I’ve shared to my Instagram feed. Similarly, I use “PixologyCover” as a keyword for images I’ve used for the cover of an issue of Pixology, my monthly digital magazine. You could similarly use keywords to identify photos that you’ve included in a particular project, such as “Book-Palouse” for a book featuring photos from the Palouse.
Once you’ve finalized a collection featuring photos for a particular project, you could select all the images in the grid view (not the loupe view) and then add a keyword referencing the project. You could even use a smart collection rather than a regular collection to automatically group photos that contain a particular keyword.
Using “fake keywords” in this case doesn’t provide a perfect solution. Just as you could remove a photo from a collection (or inadvertently remove a collection altogether) you could also accidentally remove keywords from one or more photos. But in my view, there’s a little more protection afforded by this approach, because I feel like it is less likely that you would remove keywords accidentally compared to removing a photo from a collection. And if you’re using a normal collection (rather than a smart collection) then you have the added advantage of having a somewhat redundant system. If you accidentally removed a keyword, the applicable photos would still be in the collection. And if you accidentally removed a photo from the collection, it would still have the keyword. So as long as you don’t perform both of those tasks by accident, you would still be able to determine which photos belonged in a particular project.
Note that I covered the use of “fake” keywords starting 12 minutes and 39 seconds into the lesson “Keywording Photos”, which is Chapter 2 Lesson 3 of my “Mastering Lightroom Classic” course. You can learn more about this course here: