Managing your catalogue of digital photos in Adobe Lightroom

Managing your catalogue of digital photos in Adobe Lightroom

One big problem with digital photography is the data storage. Of course with good old film the problems were no different – I have boxes of prints, negatives and slides in my loft. And do I ever look at them?

Of course not.

So with all this wonderful technology how on earth do we go about managing all this data – like the files in my loft it all has to go somewhere. This is called digital asset management, or DAM. Or catalogue management.

Or a pain in the proverbial.

As dull as this subject is, it is important, so please stick with me on this.

Editing your photos

Editing is a two-part process. The first part of editing is editing your image choice, keeping what you want and getting rid of the rest. To do this you really have to be brutal. I have not been brutal enough in the past, and have decided to go back and be brutal.

I am going through my catalogue, deleting unwanted, duplicate, similar and rubbish images.

The question is – how do you choose what to get rid of, and what to keep? A popular term in photography is keepers – images you want to keep. If you go through say 100 images, and there are five keepers, firstly well done to you – that is a good keeper rate! But are there really 5 keepers?

And what about the other 95. Do you keep them as well?

No. Be brutal. You will thank me for this advice.

I now work on a simple principle – do I want to edit the image. And when I say edit I mean a full edit in Lightroom and Photoshop. And once edited I am actually going to do something with the shot.

And everything else I delete.

I have practised this on the last 10 shoots I have done (OK I still have the original image sets on the memory cards just in case), and this has worked fine. It actually has improved my workflow.

So my two pronged approach to my data storage nightmare is this.

Legacy files.

Go back through my Lightroom catalogue, starting at 2007, and get rid of anything I can.

New commercial work

I import the files into Lightroom, then save a full duplicate set onto a completely separate hard drive. This gives me the freedom to work efficiently and using my best judgement to produce the best images set, without that nagging doubt in my mind – should I have deleted that? I can just go with what my instinct tells me, always with the reassurance that if the client wants something else that I have not included if I have it is somewhere else and I can get to it. And after a period of time the duplicate sets get deleted.


This solution has various benefits for me

1 – I can work quicker and better

2 – I have everything somewhere else just in case

3 – My hard drives only have the images I wanted in the first place.

4 – I have less images to go through to find the good stuff.

5 – My hard drive will have more space.

6 – I have one less thing to worry about.

Since writing this post I have had to buy a new (4 TB) external hard drive to give me the capacity to carry on working and also move data from my single Lightroom Catalogue. I will write a further post about this once I have established a new workflow, but the basic principle applies - I am only keeping the images I want and want to work on, spend time on.

Thanks for reading this post – please pop back tomorrow for another post all about one aspect of photography, maybe another new image. Not decided yet!

Or go to my website at


#Adobe Lightroom

#digital asset management

#catalogue management