How to structure LR Catalogs and Photos when using mutiple catalogs

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  • Updated 10 months ago
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We are constantly given the advice: "Only use one Lightroom Catalog". And yet even the Lightroom educators use multiple LR catalogs for the obvious reason that they have a "teaching" catalog and a "business" catalog that they use as a photographer. If you owned a photography studio, you would not want all of your photographers using your business LR Catalog to work on their family photographs. And I would think this choice would extend to the one-person photo studio as well. Maybe not.

Where can we find advice on how to establish and use multiple LR catalogs when the educators do not include it in their tutorials?

Has anyone seen a good tutorial on this topic?
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John Hansen

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Posted 10 months ago

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Rob Rippengale

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I imagine what they mean is "use only one catalog if you want to search through your images" because I can see no other reason to restrict oneself to a single catalog.

Using multiple catalogs is as easy as

File > New catalog
and
File > open Catalog
to switch between them.

So far as I know there is no way to search through multiple catalogs, or see if any images in this catalog are in any other catalog, so using multiple catalogs has limitations like that.
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Alan Harper

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First place to look, in my opinion, is Victoria Bampton's site: https://www.lightroomqueen.com/one-or-multiple-catalogs/

My rule is

1) If there is nearly no overlap in keywords and if it is a different project, then possibly separate catalogs
2) A new project might take a temporary catalog, but later I'll probably merge it into an established catalog
3) Temporary catalogs should be made whenever you need them

I have three catalogs: 2 projects with different keywords, and a temporary catalog for a multi-year project, which will be ultimately pruned and then merged into a permanent catalog.
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Victoria Bampton - Lightroom Queen, Champion

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Thanks for sharing that link Alan. It's true, I don't share a lot of multi catalog workflows on my blog because for most people, it would cause more confusion than benefit. How to do it is fully documented in my books though. Peter Krogh even wrote a whole book on multi catalog workflows.
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Roelof Moorlag

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Peter Krogh wrote a book about multi catalog workflows with Lightroom: http://thedambook.com/multi-catalog-workflow-with-lightroom-5/
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Joel Weisbrod

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I have been using a multiple catalog workflow for several years and here is my system.

I have one catalog for Customer work called Customers-2 (Customers-1 got pretty big so I started a second one and when I need something from Customers-1, I import it into Customers-2)

I have one catalog for teaching my classes in Photography and a second teaching catalog for teaching Lightroom and Photoshop.

I have one catalog for all my personal artwork and family photos.

Finally, I travel frequently for 3-4 week periods taking lots of photos while away. I bring my Surface-pro tablet and create a new catalog for each one of these extended trips using the naming convention YYYYMMDD - Trip description as in "20170421 - Scotland and Wales".  I import photos while on vacation and also start some culling and editing when I have time. When I return home, I copy the photos from the external drive to my Drobo Storage and the catalog folder to my internal SSD in a folder called "Lightroom Catalogs". I redirect the folder pointer in the catalog to the Drobo and I am all set.

Not sure if this helps but is has worked beautifully for me since Lightroom 1.
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Jack

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I too have just started to use multiple catalogs to keep different types of work separate. I find that it is easy to do as listed above.
I did pick one of my drives to house all of my Lightroom catalogs with individual folders for each catalog. It makes searching for that one image much easier.  I can also keep RAW files on different drives separate too. 
Now that I have been shown where the catalog name appears in the Windows version, I am very comfortable with using more than one catalog. 
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Joel Weisbrod

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You might try this as it works great for me...

In each catalog, change the identity plate to personalized and set it to the name of your catalog. This way, you can use the screen mode "Full Screen with Menu Bar" to get an extra line of space and still see the name of the catalog.

I also change the color of the not current module to a color so it is easier to see which module you are working on. All items (Develop, Map, etc) will be a color and Library will be white when in Library mode and so on.

None of this is "necessary" but it does make it easier for me.
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John Hansen

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Thanks to all who commented. Every comment was relevant to my question.