Confused about Mac Photo vs Lightroom and where to store

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I'm SO confused!
I am by no means an expert at what I do but I do have an enormous number of photos from which I make fairly complex books. I use Photoshop for my editing and also for all my page layouts and designs.
The other day I decided to take a Photoshop course on line just to fill in some of the many MANY gaps I am sure I have.
So, currently I am using Mac Photo to organise my photos, hence they reside on my hard drive, and they are backed up on my Onedrive cloud storage. To edit my photos in Photoshop, I actually export them from Photo to a folder on my hard drive so that my originals are left untouched. When I finish with a batch of photos, I back up the folder on my hard drive to Onedrive and delete the folder on my hard drive and I also export them from Photos to OneDrive and delete them from Photos. That way the untouched originals and the edited copies from the folder on my hard drive reside on my cloud storage.
Now, I'm wondering if I should be switching from Photos to Illustrator.
If I do this, would I be able to cut out having anything on my hard drive?
Can I store my photos on the cloud and then import them to Illustrator?
If that is possible, is it possible to download photos from my camera directly to OneDrive?? I think not. So do I download the photos to Photos, export them to OneDrive then delete them from Photos?? Seems a strange thing to do.
All that said... if it is possible/recommendable to store everything on the cloud, can I continue to use Photos?? Is it possible to use Photos in the same way as Illustrator, such that the photos do not reside on your computer? I know that Illustrator is more powerful and all that, but I'm not a professional and Photos is familiar and it would mean avoiding another learning curve.
Thanks so much!
magda
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neil smooker

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Posted 3 weeks ago

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Johan Elzenga, Champion

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Photos and Illustrator are two entirely different things. OneDrive is yet another thing. In the title you mention Lightroom however. That would make more sense. Lightroom and Photos are similar, so you can choose to use one or the other. Do not try to use both, because that only makes things complicated. And if you are happy with Photos and know how to use it, why change?
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Cristen Gillespie

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I agree with Mr. Elzenga. If you are happy with the way you're using OneDrive, why change? I see no advantage to switching. However, these photos mean a lot to you. I would never put all my eggs in one basket, so to speak. I'd also back up to a portable drive, even if only a full size JPEG at High or Max quality. That way you've got them off your hard drive, but are keeping them in two locations.

That may be just me, but if they're important enough to me to pay for Cloud storage, they're important enough I want to have some redundancy—just in case something goes wrong. Portable drives aren't terribly expensive anymore—you don't need an SSD for backup.

BTW, I don't think you mean Illustrator, but Lightroom. You won't be using Illustrator for your photos. It's a vector illustration program. And you're using Photoshop already for editing. That's powerful enough. Your storage doesn't have to be "powerful," just secure.
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neil smooker

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Thank you both for your replies and SO sorry. Yes, of course, I meant Lightroom and not Illustrator! Don't know where my head was at!
Ok... I have no problem continuing with Photo. It's not holding me back in terms of organising photos.
But it seems cumbersome and I don't know if I'm not doing something wrong.
As I said, I export my photos from Photos to a folder I create on my desktop so that I can then edit them in Photoshop.
If I understand correctly, using Lightroom, I wouldn't need to do this. I could simply open from Lightroom into Photoshop and do my editing and that will automatically edit a copy and not touch the original?
And Cristen, yes, these photos are massively important to me. At the moment, they reside on my hard drive in Photos and in another folder, while I'm working on them. I do also export them onto an external hard drive. And I export them to the cloud.
Problem with this set up is a) it takes up a lot of space on my hard drive and b) there's nothing automatic about backing up. I have to export to the external drive and I have to export to the cloud.
I know I can direct Photo to find the photos on an external drive but then I have to carry that drive around with me wherever I go. This is why I was wondering if it's possible to store on the cloud and direct Photos to that. And then I could export from there to a hard drive to have a secondary backup.
Very much appreciate any thoughts on this.
Thank you so much.
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Johan Elzenga, Champion

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I can’t answer your questions about Photos because I never used that. Lightroom does indeed send a copy of the photo to Photoshop, so the original remains untouched. Please be aware that there are two versions of Lightroom: Lightroom (desktop) and Lightroom Classic. Lightroom (desktop) stores originals in the cloud, but the standard ‘Lightroom plan’ does not include Photoshop. Lightroom Classic stores images locally. The ‘Photography plan’ does include Photoshop (and both Lightroom versions), but comes with 20GB online storage only. So if you want to store the images online and have Photoshop included (you must be using an old version now?) you would need the Photography plan with 1 TB cloud storage.
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neil smooker

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Yes, I have both versions of Lightroom and from what you've said, if I do decide to go with Lightroom, it would be Lightroom CC. And I just checked, and I have, as you say, only 20Gb of cloud storage so that would require an upgrade.
But I've also just discovered I have Adobe Bridge as well. So now I have to figure out whether I'm better off with Photo, Lightroom, or Bridge!
Ugh... so confusing!

But thank you so much for your reply.

So can anyone help me with the following:

1. Can you use Photo and store your photos in the cloud, such that Photo retrieves them from the cloud? So I guess, what I'm asking is can it be so that the "Photos Library.photoslibrary" is stored on the cloud.
2. If you use Bridge to organise your photos, is it possible to download from your camera directly to your cloud storage?
2. When using, Lightroom, it will open a copy of the original photo in Photoshop. So where does that copy get stored? Do you decide that yourself?

Thank you!

(Edited)
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Johan Elzenga, Champion

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1: No. The Photos library is stored locally. That much I do know about it.
2: No. Bridge is a browser. It can browse local drives, not a cloud space.
3: If you hit 'Save', the Photoshop image is stored in the cloud too. If you choose 'Save as', you can decide to use local storage instead.
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Cristen Gillespie

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> if I do decide to go with Lightroom, it would be Lightroom CC.

I would suggest you do due diligence and really look into using LR CC. I've seen lengthy tutorials on getting your files where you need them—without losing any. It's not entirely straightforward. Victoria Bampton here is a genuine LR (all versions) guru (https://www.lightroomqueen.com/) and I strongly recommend you investigate what you're getting into through her website—if you go the LR route. I myself  quit using LR as much as possible once they split it into two versions that want to be separate entities.

But I was always more deeply tied to the Bridge/CR/Photoshop route anyway. I tried LR Classic and liked many of its features, but the catalog put me off since I use a DAM (digital asset manager) to find files that are on backup storage. So don't let me put you off choosing any of the LR routes. Everyone has different needs and different pain points. Just know what you're getting into before committing to it. Try doing everything you want to do with a small practice set of files that you can afford to lose, and you'll see if it makes sense to you to switch.

As for automatic backups, I know people who use Cloud services such as Carbonite and their backup from hard drive is automatic. They can also use backup software (automatic settings possible) to get files backed up from their main hard drive folders to their backup drive(s). They can then, after both Cloud and storage are automatically backed up, check that the files are on their backup systems (cloud and drive) and then delete them from their main hard drive. 

So that's something else for you to explore.

But you have OneDrive, so you might want to first investigate further if it does have software that can make the backups automatic. So many Cloud services do. That might be a start. At least you're familiar with it. Bridge won't see what's in the Cloud. It will see any connected external drive, though. So if you have your files in both Cloud and external backup, you can use Bridge to open files you backed up to an external drive.

Whatever you choose to do, you've already got the sense that switching systems isn't as easy a choice as you could want. So take your time and try everything out. I'm getting the message from you that Photos is an obstacle to a smooth workflow, even if a familiar one, so you probably should investigate options. Just toe in the water does it. Impatience won't be your friend here.  '-}