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Setting Up Catalogs in Lightroom

March 22, 2022

Digital clutter plagues the hard drives of every photographer I know. Even those that have a system, have trouble keeping up with that system. When I first started, I didn’t really know what a Lightroom catalog was, how to start one, or how to continue to upload photos. You may laugh at me, but I just kept adding images to the same catalog until I realized how slow my computer was going and knew there had to be another way!

While I won’t dive into the entire nitty gritty of my system (that is reserved for TPF students!), I will share one way that I organize my files, specifically my Lightroom catalogs.


It’s actually pretty simple: Each session or wedding receives its OWN catalog. Yep, you heard me. I never re-use catalogs or have multiple sessions within a single catalog (with the exception of mini-session days!). This helps me to be able to quickly find catalogs if ever I need to reference back to them.

I have heard of some photographers creating catalogs based off of chronological order of sessions. So, for example, all of their sessions from Spring 2021 go into one catalog. For me, it is just too hard to remember who I worked with when.

Some keep all the same family (if they’re repeat clients) in one catalog. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work with my “master” system, which is organized by year. In The Photography Framework class, we take a deep dive into how I organize all my files on my hard drive (both RAW and high-res completed files).

With this system, I am able to quickly find old catalogs and galleries. This is especially helpful when it comes to re-uploading for clients or planning my own social media if I wanted to use an older file.

Tell me in the comments how you structure your Lightroom catalogs!

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