Lightroom is your digital notebook
Before we begin, I want to share with you an analogy that I think helps explain what Lightroom does in terms of organization. I’ll come back to this analogy from time to time throughout the book.
Imagine you are sitting at home when someone knocks on the door and gives you a box of pictures. They ask you to store the pictures for safekeeping, so you take the box into your home and place it on top of your desk in the living room. In order to remember where you placed those pictures, you pull out a notebook and write down that they are in a box on the desk in the living room.
There’s another knock at the door, and another box of pictures appears. You take these pictures and place them inside one of the drawers in your bedroom. You want to remember where they are, so you write it down in your notebook. More boxes of pictures appear, and you continue to place them in different areas of your house, writing down the location of each box of pictures in your notebook—there are a lot of pictures, and you don’t want to forget!
That notebook becomes the central record of where the boxes of pictures are stored in your home.
Now, imagine that you’re bored one day while at home, and you take the pictures that are in the box on top of the desk in the living room and place them in a particular order. You want to make a note of this change, so you write down in your notebook that the pictures on top of the desk in the living room have been organized in a specific fashion.
The notebook you’ve been using serves as the master record of the location of each box of pictures inside your home, as well as a record of all the changes you’ve made to each picture.
That notebook is your Lightroom catalog—it’s a digital notebook that keeps track of where your images are and what you have done to them.
Lightroom doesn’t store your images; it stores information about your images in the catalog. This catalog includes a ton of information about each image (or video), including where the file lives on your drives; the camera settings at capture; any descriptions, keywords, ratings, and so on, that you apply in Lightroom’s Library module; and a running list of every edit you make in Lightroom’s Develop module.
When you think of your Lightroom catalog, just think of a digital notebook that’s keeping track of where you put your pictures and what you are doing with them.