Disclaimer: This technique does not work on network-connected drives or Raid systems.

It does work on internal and connected external drives.

In the early 90’s I purchased a lifetime subscription to a raw processing program called RAW SHOOTER PRO. It included free updates for life. It worked much better than the software included with my first digital cameras. It was more robust than most other programs, but nothing like what we have today.  Unfortunately, it’s life was only two years. Adobe purchased the company and used it as the base for the first iteration of Lightroom and so there went my free updates for life, but with the reward of getting the first version of Lightroom for free! 

The biggest change was that it became a DAM (digital asset management) program as well as a raw processor. Being a portrait, wedding, school, and school sports photographer, I couldn’t see the need for this level of file management for my business nor the extra time required to enter the keywords for finding client files and digital images. So I started creating a new catalog for each client/job.

By doing this I discovered I could keep track of each client/job and the associated catalog with all of the digital assets in one location. Also with the benefit of faster speeds in handling the needed adjustments, due to the processor overhead in what were much slower computers at the time.

For the last twenty-plus years I have continued to use Lightroom in this same way so let me explain how I do it, and the added benefit of being able to create a complete backup, including the catalog, and placing it anywhere in your system drives, plus the ease of running the catalog from that location. No need for shuffling through Collections to find what you are looking for.

My workflow is a little different but it works for me and I have never lost images uploading and starting out with this method. 

  1. Create a  folder in any location on your computer or attached drive. In that same folder, I create additional folders that are labeled: CATALOG&RAW- EXPORTED. I actually create this folder once and duplicate it numerous times so they are ready to use for the next client.
  2. I copy and paste the images from the card into the RAW folder and safely remove the card. This is a safer way to import the files rather than using the import. It is a little bit slower but I have recovered many corrupted cards for fellow photographers that “lost” their files using import!
  3. Open Lightroom and “Create New Catalog” naming it as you wish. I use the shooting  date and client name  01_01_2023-  Smith, John-Jane 
  4. You will have to locate your folder CATALOG&RAW in the import panel on the top left side of the screen. If your drive does not show the drive or folder, close the computer bar, on the top left panel, reopen it and the drive should show. Select the folder and then the folder on the right side. I select 1:1 previews for immediate use but if you want to use these files in the mobile version you might want to select smart previews.
  5. Click on the Import button, at the lower right bottom of the column. Lightroom is getting faster with each iteration so it shouldn’t take too long and you can get to editing.
  6. After you are done editing and exporting your completed files close Lightroom. At this point, you are able to copy the entire folder and paste the copy to a backup drive, see the disclaimer above.
  7. When Lightroom updates it can automatically update the catalog to the newer version and it usually does it in about a minute instead of waiting for a 20 or 50-thousand-file catalog to update.