Welcome to the first installment of -> 10 Things All New Lightroom Users Should Know! Hope you’re having an awesome day.

This is #1 for a reason. It is by far the most important thing you can do as a photographer. Well, besides shooting manually, nailing your exposure, WB and composition in camera.

You’re going to learn the first thing new Lightroom users should learn how to do (even advanced users are not doing this and should). Even before you begin importing and using Lightroom! Not doing this “one thing” could be disastrous.

It’s so important, I’m asking you to make a promise to yourself before continuing…

Please raise your right hand and say this out-loud…

“I solemnly swear, cross my-heart-hope-to-die (or the Lightroom genie will poke me in the eye) I promise to do this “one thing” all photographers MUST do.”

Imagine This

You’ve spent months, years even, shooting. Capturing special moments, memories of family and friends… Dozens, maybe hundreds of client shoots with 100,000 photos or more… All in one Lightroom catalogue. Countless hours, thousands of hours, editing your images to perfection. You wake up one day and fire up Lightroom to import the latest images you captured.

And you see this…

Your heart may skip a beat or two. Then, you re-launch to see if it corrects itself. It doesn’t and the next message is this…

You now frantically click the “Repair Catalog” button…

Only to be presented with this…

Now your heart sinks as you realize all the time you’ve spent editing is out the window. Thousands of hours of editing gone! Yes, gone!

So Sad…

Did you set up your catalog preferences to auto-write your edits to the XMP files (if you shoot RAW)? Not sure what that last question means? Then you may or may not have to re-edit all… 

...images (more or less)

If you did set up for auto-write, then you may be o.k. (a big maybe).

But, anything you did besides editing – like Collections, Slideshows, Albums etc… will be lost forever. 4-EVER! For like eternity!



Problem solved.

Say what? You already do it? Great! But, some (if not most photographers) are not doing it. Even if you are doing it already, there are some things you need to know about backing up your Lightroom catalog and it’s limitations...

Read on…

The basics. You can backup your catalog; Daily, Weekly, Monthly or the next time you exit Lightroom. The options are there when you quit Lightroom. You can also set up the option within the Catalog Settings…

Stop what you are doing… right now… and choose your schedule for the Backup of your catalog.

Choose a time frame that is good for you. Work in Lightroom every day? Then choose Daily.

Use Lightroom less often? Then choose once a week or once a month. Or just select; Every time Lightroom exits.

By default, the catalogue will be saved to…

• Windows: \\Users\\[user name]\\Pictures\\Lightroom\\[catalog name]\\Backups\\

• Mac OS: /Users/[user name]/Pictures/Lightroom/[catalog name]/Backups\\

Warning – This Is A MUST Read


acking up your catalog WILL NOT back up your photos! Backups of your catalog include only the catalog file (you know, those edits you spend hours working on). 

You MUST (no ifs or buts about it – just do it), back up your photos independently from your catalog. Let me put it this way…

    1. only backup the photos that you want to keep for life.
    2. if your photos are not important to you, don’t back up.
    3. if you’re o.k. with your clients suing you because you lost their photos (they got corrupt, your hard drive crashed and the photos can no longer be accessed, or maybe a virus wiped your hard drive clean)… then don’t backup!

    Do you have presets?

    Also, what about all those presets you took the time to create? Or maybe you spent your hard earned money on pre-made Develop presets? They too will not be backed up with the catalog!

    The next time you experience a hard drive crash… and you will – I guarantee it…

    POOF, all your photos, presets, and more will be gone for eternity!

    That is why it’s imperative to have a backup system in place for your HARD DRIVE. Already have a backup system in place? Congratulations! One less thing to worry about.

    If not, I command you to think about this post… Day and Night… While you sleep and are awake… until you have a backup system in place. Until then, you should feel dreadful and uncomfortable, knowing that your precious photos could disappear at any second.

    O.k. I get it.

    Enough with the lecture already.

    But, here is the thing… Weekly I get emails like these…

    “I am missing so many presets that I have purchased and it’s impossible to know what I lost with my computer crash and what I didn’t.  So I am wanting to go back and just re-download everything that I can from anywhere I have purchased.  I had them all backed up on my external drive but when I’ve gone in to use certain things, many folders now say they are empty (on my backup) so….  Wondering if there is a way to get everything I’ve purchased from you on my dropbox or something so I don’t have to ask you again to send links. Someone hacked my computer at the studio recently and it was crazy..  anyway.. let me know please. Thanks!”

    Kirsten, Faith In Love Photography

    and this one…

    Hi Chris. How are you? I purchased the newborn, wedding and portrait pre-sets off of you however my computer crashed and I had to wipe out Lightroom and reinstall, once I did that I lost everything. I was wondering if I could get those from you again? Thank you,

    Kim, Highland Photography

    How I Backup

     F.Y.I. -> Here is a quick look at my backup system;

    be calm


    I have 4 backups! 2 on-site and 2 offsite. Why offsite? God forbid a fire or natural disaster occurs….

    …Say goodbye to EVERYTHING.

    But, since I also store offsite, I can sleep better at night. Usually, one offsite location is sufficient. But, I’m paranoid and like the added security of 2 off-site locations.

    There you have it. The number 1 thing all new (and advanced) Lightroom users should know (and do – do it now).

    Now it’s time to take action and git-r-done…. Backup, backup and backup some more. Besides, at the beginning of this post you made an oath to yourself. Don’t break that promise.

    Already have a backup system in place? If so, tell us your system (in the comments below) so we may learn from it. What software do you use? How many places do you back up to? Hard Drive, USB key, CD/DVD, offline?

    Don’t have a backup system in place? Then, in the comments below, solemnly swear that you will create a system before you take another photo! When you do let us know…

    I did my part. Now it’s time to do yours. Share this post with your family and friends. Help them save their photos, presets and Lightroom catalog too. They’ll thank you for it!

    In 7 days, installment number 2 will arrive.

    In #2, I’m going to answer one of the most often asked questions about Lightroom. Mark your calendar, you’re not going to want to miss it!