For me, one of the best features of Lightroom is that it provides an efficient system to access and organize my images. Among various software options, Lightroom is my "top pick" because it was built specifically for digital photographers. Lightroom simplifies my postproduction process, taking the mystery out of the complex tasks of finding, filtering, organizing, and storing images on one or more hard drives.
In this chapter you will spend some time learning how to organize and access your images in Lightroom. You will learn how to use Lightroom Catalogs, Folders, Collections, Filters, Image Sorting, and Renaming. These techniques will help you not only to become more organized, but also to be more creative as you find you have more time on your hands to make images.
#28 Understanding Catalogs
One of the main advantages of using Lightroom is that when you import your images they are added to a database, which is called a catalog. By having your images in a catalog you can find, preview, process, print, and showcase your work quickly.
The Lightroom Catalog is essentially a database file (Figure 28) containing image previews and information about the images. A catalog doesn't actually contain the image files, and this is advantageous because it provides you with added flexibility. For example, you can have one catalog that contains images located on multiple external hard drives. If the external drives are turned off you can still view the images and make metadata changes, add star ranking and color labels, add the images to Collections, and more.
Figure 28 The Lightroom Catalog file contains valuable information about your images. You can think of a catalog as a small, self-contained database for your images.
Even more, catalog information provides you with an immense amount of flexibility in managing, accessing, and processing your photos. For example, if you are traveling with a laptop computer, you can import photos into Lightroom and when you return to your home or studio, move the photos and catalog to your desktop computer or to other hard drives for backup. When you do this you can retain any changes and edits you have made while on the road.