I use Lightroom, and I have one main catalog on my desktop computer. This catalog houses all of my photographs (over 250k of them), and they all are on a Drobo in my office at home. However, when I travel, I still want to be able to use Lightroom, and so I have what I call my “travel” catalog on my laptop. This is sort of a temporary home for the photos I am creating while traveling.
Here’s how it works: I create photos with my camera, import them to my laptop (and oftentimes a backup hard-drive as well), and then sort, edit, and share from that catalog on my laptop. Then, when I get home, I transfer those images from the Lightroom catalog on my laptop over to the Lightroom catalog on my iMac. This way I am able to save all of the edits and organization from my travel photos so that I don’t have to redo anything when I am home.
How to transfer photos from one Lightroom catalog to another:
In this example, I will be transferring photos from Lightroom on my 13-inch MacBook Pro to the Lightroom catalog on my iMac:
- First, on my laptop, I go into the catalog and select the folder of images I imported and want to transfer over. Then, I go to File > Export this Folder as a Catalog.
- I select a location I want to store the catalog, typically the Desktop. I also only export the catalog information, and not the negative files (those will be moved within Lightroom once the import is complete).
- Once the catalog is exported I need to connect the laptop to my iMac with a cable (I use the lightening cable for my setup). Then, I need to access the computer as a hard-drive on my iMac. So on my MacBook Pro, I go into the System Preferences, select the Target Disk Mode and the laptop will restart.
- Now, inside of the Lightroom catalog on my iMac (desktop), I go to File > Import from Another Catalog.
- I select the catalog I just exported, and click Choose.
- A window will pop up, and I select the option that says Add new photos to catalog without moving and click Import. The images and their data will now import into the catalog on my desktop.
- Now, in the Folders panel, I can locate the images that were just imported. However I want to move them to my desktop computer, instead of keeping them on my laptop. To do this, I select the folder of imported images and drag/drop it over to the folder on my desktop where I want it to permanently live. The photos will be moved internally within the Lightroom catalog, as well as be removed off of the laptop computer as well.