I started using Lightroom from version 1, and since that time I have always used multiple catalogs. By that I mean that I started a new catalog for each new year. Each of these years’ containing all that particular period’s images were on a separate external hard drive and backed up to another hard drive. Each of these ‘yearly’ catalogs and images were then backed up to another archive hard drive arranged in their year folders and held off site.
However this kind of system of cataloging in Lightroom makes it hard to deal with the full collection of images that I have. So, if for instance, I am looking for some photographs for an exhibition, I may have to look through each of the different catalogs for the years in order to find the images that I want. This is time consuming and frankly a bit of a pain.
I have therefore decided to amalgamate all my images and catalogs into one master Lightroom catalog. This is going to take some time, as I will also need to copy across all the images to the new large drive that I have purchased and then run a backup to the second new drive. All this will then have to be backed up again for a third drive to be stored off-site.
I will still use separate catalogs within Lightroom for individual projects, such as those for 365 and the courses at the OCA.
My RAW files are already stored on their own hard drives and I will continue to archive these as I have always done, split into folders in their years. These drives do actually contain ALL my RAW files. They are placed on to the RAW drive as they come off camera – bad focusing, errors and all. At the same time, these same RAW files are converted into DNG and placed into Lightroom ready for editing.