Creating and accessing differently processed duplicates of the same images in the Lightroom Library.

by George Mann

I like to browse a number of different photography forums on the internet to see what kind of real world problems photographers are having, learning how to use and adjusting to the Lightroom workflow.

A few days ago I saw a question repeated on two different forums and at first I thought it must be the same person but when I checked, I found that it was indeed two separate people who had difficulty finding a solution to the same problem.

The problem was how do you create duplicates of a large number of files in the Lightroom Library and both assign them new values and be able to access them individually or as a new group with the new values.


It was interesting to me too because I did not see this particular issue as being a problem, but I was solving it in a completely different way than either of these photographers was willing to accept. My solution was simple and old school (import the images twice and give them distinct names on import) and they wanted a new school virtual reality solution.

On both forums the posters mentioned the problem of having access to color and grayscale versions of images. I imagine that this is probably very useful for portrait and wedding photographers who constantly are asked for and sell both color and grayscale versions of the same image.

The answer in one of the forums was making a virtual copy and or snapshots of all images, but to be aware that these images only exist in the Lightroom Library, not in the permanent XMP files. The second forum also suggested making virtual copies and suggested assigning the copies either a new Keyword Tag or a color label so they can be sorted out of the Library by using their metatags.

What I don't like about these solutions (although I have and will continue to use them at times) is that they do not build a permanent record that can be used outside of Lightroom. What I did learn from this little exercise is that to take full advantage of Lightroom's virtual capabilities, I have to be more open to thinking in virtual terms when looking for solutions to a problem.


2007-04-13 10:32:37
It can also be useful to add all the virtual copies to a collection (and all the originals to a separate collection if desired) to quickly access all of one kind (though color labels do much the same).
2007-04-13 12:25:43
Somewhat related, is there an automated way (or is it desirable) to bring the smaller size JPG exports back into Lightroom? As a Stack?

I am going to have to experiment to see what works best in managing the smaller web and email versions of images.

George Mann
2007-04-13 19:43:34
At this stage I am still using Lightroom exclusively as an image project manager, not to manage my entire image library. So my collections are at best temporary.

Therefore I do not bother to bring the exported jpegs into Lightroom very often but rather store them on my external hard disk drive.

If I do switch to using Lightroom to manage my entire image Library, I will probably want to find a solution for the jpegs and multple virtual copies myself.