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#30 Using Catalogs

When you open Lightroom and import photos, a catalog file (Lightroom Catalog.lrcat) is created automatically. In most situations, it makes sense to use one catalog for all of your photos, but sometimes it may be advantageous to use more. For example, if you regularly shoot an incredibly high volume of photos you may find that Lightroom's performance slows as the catalog size increases. Or, let's say you're a professional race-car photographer. You may want one catalog for racing photos and another, separate catalog for your family photos. When working with multiple catalogs choose one of these options:

  • File > New Catalog—creates a new (and empty) catalog
  • File > Open Catalog—opens a preexisting catalog
  • File > Open Recent—shows a list of your recent catalogs

If you know that you are going to use multiple catalogs, navigate to your General Preferences to select which catalog is loaded when you start up Lightroom (Figure 30a). Choose Edit > Preferences > General (Windows) or Lightroom > Preferences > General (Mac) and change the default catalog to the option that best fits your workflow. By default, Load most recent catalog is selected. This option usually makes sense, but if you switch between catalogs frequently, choose Prompt me when starting Lightroom and you will be able to choose the catalog you want each time.

Figure 30a

Figure 30a You can change the default catalog in Preferences under the General tab.

At other times, it may be advantageous to export images and the catalog file from your current catalog. For example, let's say that after a photo shoot you have made the selection of ten final images. You are running short on time and want to give these images and the catalog information to an assistant to create and upload a Web gallery for the client to view. To export the selected images as a catalog, follow these steps:

  1. Select the images in the Library Grid View or the Filmstrip.
  2. Choose File > Export as Catalog.

This will open the Export dialog, where you can select a location for the exported files. You have a few more options to specify (Figure 30b). To limit the export to your selected images, choose Export selected photos only. In order to include a copy of the original image files, choose Export negative files. Finally, in order to speed up the preview for your assistant, choose Include available previews.

Figure 30b

Figure 30b The options when exporting as Catalog.

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