Lightroom is fantastic when it comes to classifying, organizing, and retrieving photos. Any photo can be placed in dozens and dozens of collections. The collections can be manual collections, like the photos that I like or the photos in smart collections, like all the photos taken in the month of January.

The problem of all of these collections and “copies” of the photos is that they all point to the same photo, the original photos. I placed the word copies in quote because they are not copies, they are just pointers. The pointer points to the original photo. In the end, there’s only one original photo.

So any change to the photo from the color balance will be seen in all of the collections, regular collections or smart collections. This means that changing the rating of one photo in one collection will be changed in all the collections, including the All Photographs collection.

This leads to the question: How to make changes to a photo for a specific collection? or how can you process one photo differently in each collection. The answer is the virtual copy. Now you can have one photo with:

  • Different crops such as web and print
  • Different color saturation
  • Different effects
  • Bland and White versus color

After doing all these virtual copies, you can still change the master photo without affecting the virtual copies.

Creating a virtual copy

  • Select a photo
  • Photo > Create Virtual Copy

Lightroom: Create a virtual copy

Lightroom: Create a virtual copy

  • The virtual copy will have the bottom left corner folded

Lightroom: virtual copy indicator

Lightroom: virtual copy indicator

  • Now, you can make all of your modifications and all of your processing on the virtual copy.