Missing files in lightroom - why it is vital you have a sound backup strategy

Boring post alert!

Boring post but with a serious message to be fair. One that will hopefully give you something to think about, in particular how you look after your data. Serious digital photography requires serious digital data management.

So what happened?

Yesterday morning I was working, editing a recent architectural photography shoot. So this is actual paying work for a client. Not me playing around in Lightroom editing some landscape photography from years ago. Real work.

I was moving the images I needed to edit into a separate folder. This is how I work. I import the images into Lightroom, then add them to a client folder. I then auto-stack by time, then select the images to edit.

The chosen images are marked as picks in Lightroom – little white flags. I then create a new folder and put the files in there. I don’t bother with collections at this stage as they do not pick up the complete stack. This works for me even if others might say differently.

I had the files in the folder, but when I tried to move them Lightroom told me that some of the files were missing.


I can see them on my screen. So where were they? What had I done?

Well the answer is I don’t know, and I couldn’t find them even though I could see them.

Not good news. Especially the way my commercial architectural photography workflow is set up, including how I shoot the images with the intention of processing in a certain way.

I shoot with specific techniques knowing what I am going to do in Lightroom and Photoshop. 

So what to do? 

This is why having a sound backup strategy is so essential. We invest all that time and money on gear, and time on taking the images, so shouldn't we also invest time and money in protecting our images? 

Thankfully I do have a sound backup strategy. The first line of defence is a separate copy of the files which I imported into Lightroom, which are on a separate external hard drive.

This is going to sound more complicated than it is, and it took me a while to work it out, but this is what I do.

I import the images into Lightroom. The Lightroom catalogue is on my laptop hard drive. The actual images I import are physically saved to a separate external hard drive (refer to Februarys posts for more on this tale of woe). I build Smart Previews in Lightroom CC, within the Lightroom catalogue on my laptop hard drive.

And I make a duplicate of the imported files on a separate hard drive.

I also back up my catalogue onto a separate hard drive.

So basically, cutting a long story short, I have everything in two separate places.

There is a bit of housekeeping that goes along with this arrangement, but it works for me.

I hope this makes sense?

So when the files were missing fixing this was easy.

All I did was reimport the images from the duplicate import folder. Everything was there and imported fine and I was quickly able to get back to work.

What I have yet to work out is what actually went wrong! 

I have not had this problem before. I have recently moved all my files onto an external hard drive but this should work fine.

I have to say that these days Lightroom can be more unpredictable than it was, before the Creative Cloud. 

And strangely when I reimported the full set of images (rather than pick the 10 missing ones out of 200) it did not pick up the fact that some of the files were already there (even with the do not import duplicates selected). 

Strange and something I will have to check out once I am over this huge amount of architectural photography work I am currently working through

So, to reinforce the key point of this post.


And make sure that it works for you now and going forwards. You have a lot to lose – don’t forget that!

Thanks for reading this post and please come back tomorrow for a nice picture and no waffle from me at



Field, Dorset. A lovely summer scene for a Monday morning

Field, Dorset, by landsacpe photograher Rick McEvoy

Field, Dorset, by landsacpe photograher Rick McEvoy

A nice, warm Dorset landscape image for a February Monday morning

Monday mornings. Don’t you just love em? Well I have decided that Monday mornings need some nice, uplifting imagery to cheer us all up.

Like this shot taken off the A35 outside Winterbourne Abbas of a field.

Yes, a picture of a field.

So why this?

Because it is nice. Pleasing. Colourful. That’s all.

This shot was taken hand held on my Canon 5D. I was drawn to the field, and the tractor tracks taking you from the front to the back of the scene. Then there are the lovely, warm, golden colours in the field, and of course that blue sky.

And this is where I have to confess to a bit of Photoshop work

Now you should all know by now that I am not the biggest fan of Photoshop – it is just too complicated and counter intuitive for me, but I do use it for a selection of things, including sky blurring. This was not a sky replacement, just a sky blur. No that Photoshop is nothing other than fantastic and incredibly powerful – just not as intuitive as Lightroom.

In Photoshop, just select filters (or fillets as I typed it before spell check kicked in), Blur gallery, and there they are. You make an adjustment mask, and apply the blur filer of your choice. I like path blur, as you can drag it left and right.

The sky in this image was fine, but I wanted more. So I used path blur to create the sky you see. And I have to say I like the effect.

Digression time.

I am going to revisit one of my most popular images in 500PX, Durdle Door, and see what I can come up with now. Its fine doing all these fancy things but they have to look natural and realistic.

Digression time 2.

So what else do I use Photoshop for? Check out a forthcoming blog post all about this, and how I use Photoshop in conjunction with Lightroom for my architectural photography work. The techniques I apply for my commercial work are different to my landscape photography work. For my commercial work I have to produce consistent images with my look, quickly and consistently, so I use Photoshop for some things that are quicker than in Lightroom.

So going back to this image briefly, the composition and colours are good, making the shot. You can forget all the technical stuff above – without a strong composition you have nothing in my view. With minimal processing this was a strong image, with a bit of work it has gone to that next level, which is where I want to take all my images. That is what sets professional photographers apart.

Thanks for reading this post, and hopefully tomorrow you will be able to come back to my blog at


and see my polished Durdle Door shot. After that I am diving back into architectural photography mode for a few weeks, as I have a lot of recent work to write about, which I am excited about.

Logs, France - a different shot from the Acquitane Region of France

Logs, Aquitane, France, by landscape photographer Rick McEvoy

Logs, Aquitane, France, by landscape photographer Rick McEvoy

Logs, Aquitaine, France, by landscape photographer Rick McEvoy – work the scene to get great results

A different shot today. While walking through a forest in Aquitaine, France, I noticed these logs. They were of interest to me. This is the close up portrait shot.

Below is the shot I posted previously of the same pile of logs.


Another example of working the scene. Two different views, two striking and interesting images. Which is good as the forest was rather dull to be completely honest with you. And the weather wasn’t great.

“So why were you there shooting?” I hear you ask??? Dull location, dull weather. What were you thinking?

Fair point.

But it does go to prove that you can find images anywhere you go, you just have to look.

And be patient.

And when you find something of interest take your time. Have a good look around. And try new angles and viewpoints. That is how I get interesting new landscape photography images, and the challenge of finding new angles, views and scenes keeps my work fresh.

And I apply this technique to my commercial photography work all the time.

One of my favourite shooting positions at the moment is with my camera held on the ground, either resting on something or me lying down on my latest piece if camera kit - a £5 groundsheet (see my post about my 10 favourite bits of photography kit not bought in a camera store) for more info in this!

Yesterday I got a great shot which I will process shortly using this very technique, catching a fleeting moment of special directional light.

The log shot was taken on my Canon 6D, 17-40mm F4L Lens, hand held, nice and close. Processing all done in Lightroom – this was a nice quick edit where I wanted to bring out the colours and details, and that is about it. Nice and easy, which is a great antidote for my recent epic construction photography editing workload! By the way the new batch of images I have produced I cannot post for a little while yet, for client confidentiality reasons, but they will be on my site soon.


Thanks for reading this post. I am a landscape photographer working commercially in Bournemouth, Poole, Sandbanks, Dorset, (and in no particular order) Hampshire, Cornwall, Surrey, Hampshire, Wiltshire, London and France. And anywhere else. My landscape photography work compliments my commercial architectural photography work, and is my experimental space to develop my photographic skills.

Check out my website at


and my next blog post at


where you can find out more about my photographic world and catch up on my latest news.

And also you can find out how to contact me.

Tree sunset shot taken at Picket Post in the New Foreset, Hampshire


Sunset, Picket Post, New Forest, Hampshire

Last post from me for today. This shot was taken this week, following a very brief diversion off the A31 driving through the New Forest this week.

As someone once said, Scott Kelby I believe, if something grabs your eye stop and see what it was.

It was the sky in this case. The sunset. I literally pulled off the A31, parked up just down the road, stopped for 5 minutes and then the moment was gone so quickly.

I had time for a quick look around, took some wide shots, then went to the tree, and I managed to capture this. The tree makes the shot for - that and the sky of course.

Together they make a really captivating image, which I have to say I think I photographed rather well. Of course I would say that. But seriously, let me know what you think of this image. It has a nice feel to it, and I love the depth of colours and the textures within the image.

Taken on my 6D this time with my 70-200 lens. I took a couple of wide shots but they were rubbish to be honest. But after a quick change the telephoto worked much better.

I hope you have enjoyed the images I have posted today - please come back to my blog tomorrow for another post about something to do with me and my photograhy at


I am a photographer based in Dorset specialising in architectural photography, commercial photography, industrial photography, and "any excuse to get out when the weather is nice and the view is great" landscape photography.