Remapping photos in Lightroom

Warning: this post will only be interesting to anyone who works with Lightroom and Photo Mechanic. Even then it won't be interesting. Seriously.

I debated even posting it. If something's of limited interest and not fully thought out, how does posting it benefit anyone? It probably won't. It might benefit me. Experimenting to see if tracking photography workflow issues here under certain tags might be more effective than updating a document.

My internal hard drive is filling up. That's frustrating because when I got this laptop I started with the intention of keeping the internal hard drive clean, a workspace. For the most part I use external drives. A 21st century curse - these machines that are meant to make us more productive and organized often cause significant stress.

I opened the Mac manage storage feature and had a quick look at the main offenders. I suspect it has something to do with Lightroom, when I started having Lightroom render 1:1 build previews on import. I can't remember why I did that or whether I've noticed any tangible benefits.

I went into the internal hard drives picture folder to see if I could score a quick, feel good, free up a few gigs victory. That's where I encountered another stress - digital asset management.

In January 2020, before the world turned, I was visiting family in Phoenix. I had several files of photos in the internal drive. It looks like I did not use Photo Mechanic to get them there. The photos were in Lightroom, pointing to the internal drive. I must have imported straight to Lightroom without checking the Copy to location.

I checked my external drive. Sure enough, I had later ingested them with Photo Mechanic.

The conundrum. What is the most effective way to have Lightroom recognize and point to the photos on the external drive. If I made edits that are linked to the photos on the internal drive, do I need to worry about losing those edits? I don't think so - that's one of the reasons we use Lightroom - the edit history is in the catalog.

I know that some people work with folders in Lightroom. Unfortunately, part of my Photo Mechanic ingest alters file names. I think the different file names would confuse Lightroom folder operations. I might be wrong on that. I don't work with folders often.

The only thing I could come up with was deleting the photos from the internal hard drive and helping Lightroom find the now missing file. (Important note: Check and double check that the images are on the external drive. I also did this with images I wouldn't be worried about losing.)

It's not a great solution. Since the file names are different, I have to remap for each photo. But it did work. I only did the first photo from each folder - that way I have a record of the new location.

A question for any photographers/photojournalists who a) stumble on this post and b) actually read through it.

When you're working on the road and juggling devices and workflow, have you ever encountered something like this? You have photos in two locations, with different file names, and you want Lightroom to change how it views where the photos are located?

I wonder if it would have been simpler to re-ingest through Photo Mechanic. I might try that next time.