EP 60: Lightroom Catalogs with Laura Carroll

Natalie Jennings 0:01
Hey everyone, thanks for tuning in to another episode of the Photo Business Help Podcast. Today we are doing another workshop chat. If you haven't listened to any of the previous episodes go on back there's there's three or four or five workshop chats where I have someone on the show as a guest who wants to chat about something photo related and workshop it in the hopes of, you know, getting something out of our chat and maybe helping other folks out who are dealing with the same thing.

Natalie Jennings 0:32
So today I have Laura Carroll of Laura Carroll Photography, and we've known each other a little while and she's also part of the Facebook group. If you'd like to join our Facebook community, you can head to There's just a couple questions that you have to answer to get into the group to make sure you're a real person. Join us! There's a lot of folks in there at different levels of their photography journey. Beginners, people that have been in in a long time. And so it's a fun space to hang out. So without further ado, I will let Laura introduce herself. Maybe just say a little bit about what your background is and what you're up to.

Laura 1:12
Hi. Yeah. I'm Laura Carroll and I am a portrait photographer in the Twin Cities. I shoot exclusively portraits, children, families, I don't do weddings, I don't do newborns. And I've been doing it for five years and love it.

Natalie Jennings 1:28
Yeah. Awesome. Is it a full time gig for you?

Laura 1:30
Nope. Nope. Part time on the side kind of thing.

Natalie Jennings 1:35
Cool. So you mentioned you wanted to chat a little bit about workflow today but I I want to just ask you something that popped into my head as you said that: How does it serve you and help you to niche down and not offer everything to everyone? You just said that you just do families?


Laura 1:55
Yeah, I tried weddings. I did a couple initially. I've done a couple of newborn things. And I just felt like it wasn't for me. I am somebody that's very, very, very “a-type” and needs a lot of control. And I felt like with weddings and the newborns that I didn't have that full control over where it was located, the time of day, the weather, all of those things, what, you know what the newborns are very unpredictable. So our kids but in a different way. And I just felt like it was too, just too much stress for me, and I just want to focus on doing one type of thing.

Natalie Jennings 2:35
That's awesome. It's not what we initially talked about, but I'm super glad that you brought that up because I think there's two pieces to that. If you're the sort of person that really wants to have things sort of predictable and scheduled out…if you're feeling super stressed out about weddings, it's okay if it's not, maybe your thing. And that's that's an okay thing.

Laura 3:05
I'm glad I discovered that like, after doing two. Just doing two, I was like, I'm done. I can't do it anymore.

Natalie Jennings 3:11
And we don't, we don't all have the same personality and we don't all necessarily fit the mold of what we see out there on Facebook. So thank you for bringing that up. Does it serve you at all like in just when you sit down and market yourself to just be so niche?

Laura 3:29
I feel like it does. But I'm also somebody that has a hard time saying no. And so I feel like it's easier for me to say no, when I have never done it. I don't do it as a favor. Or for a client that I've done portraits for that kind of thing. And I feel like I can really focus on my style and spend more time editing The smaller family sessions that I that I like to work on.

Natalie Jennings 4:03
Yeah, I think that your style will develop sharper and clearer if you're just doing that that one thing. I think it's interesting the idea of saying no as well. People ask me a lot because I've shot a lot of different things, and I still do shoot families and newborns, and I have I do weddings and branding, but my umbrella, my brand, my sort of thing that all of that fits under is is a storytelling approach. So not a portrait, sort of like posed approach. If you can, number one, find a way to to have your have a way to niche even a lot of different categories like for me, it's storytelling. If someone wants a really fancy posed portrait that's not my vibe. So that's something to definitely consider when you're when you're trying to figure out what to do.

Natalie Jennings 4:52
But I really think that saying know is something that I've learned to get better at. It's also something that's really really really difficult for people. A little random short anecdote: I was approached to do a fashion shoot for Family Circle Magazine (which is going out of business) but they they distributed a lot of stuff to, like, Glamour…This was specifically for Glamour and it was to have a couple of models like in an urban setting and then it would be on that the fashion page where they like cut out the people and show like the scarf and this purse was like a thing…and it was decent pay and I it's a very different approach to structuring the contract it's a different pay approaches. I had to be in charge of way more things and including payment of the talent because they initially like to just all everything was different.

Natalie Jennings 5:49
But I had to like really dig deep and like feel into the fact that I was like this isn't really an alignment with what I, number one, I am not a huge supporter of the fashion industry because of the environment. And number two, like, why am I saying why would I say yes to this? It's not because of so I could put Glamour on my website because that's not the work doesn't represent something I'm necessarily even proud of. So I think if you're listening to this, and you're kind of like, Oh, I should, but I don't I feel uncomfortable doing weddings, well just say no. The work that you are aligned with, personally, that feels good to do will flow to you when you put your energy there. And so I said no to the gig. And I offered it to someone in the group who has a strong fashion background, but thank you for bringing that up. That's not even what we were going to talk about today. But we can have a double conversation, we can.

Laura 6:43
Exactly. It's a good topic.

Natalie Jennings 6:46
It's a great topic, and it's something that we all struggle with. So thanks for that. So workflow. So you mentioned we both mentioned that Lightroom is kind of a pain in the butt and for me personally, the latest Catalina update for Mac With the latest Creative Cloud update for Lightroom spelled minor disaster, so I actually have been troubleshooting what's been going on with that and using my older version of Lightroom to get through this fall pile of crap that we all have to get through. So yeah. So tell me a little bit about what your sort of, you know, vendetta against Lightroom is right now.

Laura 7:25
Well… So, you know, as many of us do right now, we have piles and piles of editing. Unfortunately, I have used one catalog for five years. And despite my husband continuously telling me just create a new catalog, just create a new catalog… I'm like I can't. I need to, I don't know I just…I like things the way they were, but I inevitably eventually created a new catalog. Just to help with the memory issues and it helped a lot. But I find myself having to close that catalog to get back to my old catalog, and it just creates more work than I want to be able to do.

Natalie Jennings 8:14
What are the reasons that you're jumping back to your old catalog?

Cover art for episode 60 of the photo business help. lightroon catalogs with laura carroll.

Laura 8:17
Um, if I want to, like, grab a photo to post on Instagram, that's basically it. Or if I'm like doing some sort of marketing thing, or some sort of collage for my Facebook time, you know, timeline thing, that sort of stuff.

Natalie Jennings 8:33
So the catalog file is what storing all of the data attached to the photo that you're editing, right? So every little thing you do exposure adjustment, whatever, that's that's the purpose of of that, basically. But do you have a place where you've exported a high res version of all these files that you've delivered to your clients?

Laura 8:55

Natalie Jennings 8:56
Is there a reason that you wouldn't pull from there to like, do your marketing and, and stuff like that?

Laura 9:02
The thing is, is I have my style, my editing style has changed and continues to like evolve. And so there are photos that I took maybe three or four years ago that I want to repost because I love them, but they they need work to reflect my current style. So that's why I'm holding on to all of this stuff.

Natalie Jennings 9:31
That totally makes sense.

Natalie Jennings 9:36
Well, let me let me first address the catalog thing. I too, am a fan of working… I often will work from one catalog for a very long time, not not five years, but I would say I've gone over a year, like with the exception of a couple big weddings. I I dig into a style that I like and I just and I go for it.

Natalie Jennings 10:00
That being said, I've read a lot of research on this topic because of what I do with photo education. And the speed and memory sort of draw that the computer uses specifically to save the lrcat. info is actually negligible. Like it's not that much when it's just, let's just say like a year's worth of files, especially if you're doing it. It kind of depends on if your computer… if you're pulling from RAW that is like on an external hard drive. There's a lot of different ways to do this. And we don't have time to dig into it today. So there might be other things that are contributing to that slowness.

Laura 10:44
Right. Yeah.

Natalie Jennings 10:46
And I would just recommend just kind of doing a couple Google searches because there there's some really good info on this the speed piece. But I think in terms of like, when I go back personally and pull, pull stuff that I want to re-edit, the catalog at that point doesn't really matter to me because I'm going to change the edit so much anyway. So you may just want to pull the actual RAW file into your new catalog and just edit a new version.

Laura 11:15
…never thought of…never thought of that.

Natalie Jennings 11:19
Or go through your old catalog and export, you know, export a bunch of stuff and put it in a folder to get it later. You know, you could do a couple different things there that might help. But I think Yeah, five years you may just want to me if you're starting out with the new catalog…if you're working with editors, if you're doing lots… of I mean a lot of people have to work in specific catalogs for everything and and a lot of people prefer to they prefer to be able to pull up a certain style. For me, my style is so consistent that it doesn't really matter to me to change it up too often, although I just recently did as I said with upgrades. So is there anything else that you're kind of working on or struggling with?

Laura 12:03
Um, as far as Lightroom goes?

Natalie Jennings 12:06
Yeah, or workflow or anything that was on your mind.

Laura 12:08
One thing that I've thought about that just seeing my old catalog and how big it is, as far as, you know, try trying to figure out at what point do I get rid of raw files? You know, I have so so many and I have them all backed up on a raid or secondary device, and then they're all also backed up into the cloud.

Laura 12:40
But I, I feel like at some point I, I should maybe let some of them go. I don't know.

Natalie Jennings 12:46
Explain to me from from the second you take your card out of your camera, what's your what's your process?

Laura 12:53
I put them on a folder in a folder. And then I all the raw files go into a folder for that client for that. You're on my computer and then I import them into Lightroom from the folder. And then I cull before I create a collection so that I can permanently delete those raw files that I don't want. But I'm still left with so much data. You know?

Natalie Jennings 13:20
It is a lot of data. I have I have a big box of hard drives.

Natalie Jennings 13:24
And I started using a mirrored raid for a little while and that's, that's helpful for those of you that aren't familiar, it's just a it's a mirrored hard drive. It's one unit but it has two different identical drives within within the unit. So if something failed you you have like kind of a double backup and that's a whole other conversation too.

Natalie Jennings 13:47
So I also import I important a Photo Mechanic and then I call in Photo Mechanic and I pull, I pull all of it same as calling and Lightroom. I used to call in Lightroom. I pulled All of my selects a new a Select folder much like it sounds like you're doing and after the client has sent me an email… in my client email I say please let me know about any changes or requests. You know, sometimes it's like, Do you have another picture of grandma? or whatever, right within 30 days and then after that that mark I dump the original raw folder.

Natalie Jennings 14:22
But yeah, for a wedding that 600 images, I still have those 600 raw select images as well. So every folder on my hard drive has two folders. One is the exported high res edited print files and the other is the raw select file folder. And sometimes I'm even sad that I dumped all the other RAWS… I'm like, oh, there's probably stuff in there. I like now that I didn't like them. But I mean, you kind of have to draw the line somewhere. But I think part of part of what we're what we do nowadays is sort of like takes up a lot of room and I work on minimum one terabyte external hard drives. So I think I think it's just a matter of like, either you just…it's just like lots of silence here. But I mean, I think I think I've just accepted that I'm just going to keep it's like keeping your negatives, you know, I want to keep those rough, right? You want to keep those raw files and it is your, your work. For me, it's my career's work so far, and I have… For those wondering, I have gone back six, seven, eight, nine years and pulled stuff and edit it, and edited it completely differently.

Laura 15:38
I love doing that too.

Natalie Jennings 15:42
Just invest, you know, in the larger hard drives, you know, if you're dumping some of that raw, which some people I know, don't, you're already saving massive amounts of space. So, yeah, you know, for the average family shoot, you're only looking at, you know, 10 gigs or something. Once it's culled out, maybe a little more. So yeah, you know, on a terabyte drive that's still a lot of space. So I think that's, I just stick with what you're doing. It sounds like it's working just fine for you, you know, and experimenting with the other catalog after five years might be, might be helpful. But hey, again, I'm not a I'm not like a multi catalog, you know, person either. It's not something I've always done. So,

Laura 16:24
No, I think initially, it's just difficult to work with. I have this all my old stuff is over here. And it's not in front of me anymore. I'll get used to it, I think and I think moving forward, I'll do one catalog per year. And see how that goes.

Natalie Jennings 16:41
Cool. That's awesome.

Natalie Jennings 16:43
Go through if you have an intentional strategy for what you're going to post for the next month, let's say, you know, go through and choose all those photos, edit all those photos and then throw them you know, in a folder or something so you're not feeling like you have to pull up that old I had a log all the time you know.

Natalie Jennings 17:07
I get I get what you're going through because that's a that's a big switch. You may not even need to reference that catalog if you're editing totally differently anyway. Maybe just pull everything into a new catalog.

Laura 17:22
Yeah, I know. That's I didn't even think about i.t

Natalie Jennings 17:26
Well, there you have it.

Natalie Jennings 17:28
Hopefully this helps someone else listening as well. Yeah. Again, I'll just wrap up by saying if you're listening and you're like, what, don't feel bad it's there's there's a million ways to do one thing and both Photoshop and Lightroom and, and everyone has a little bit of a different process. So don't don't worry if you're feeling a little bit lost.

Natalie Jennings 17:49
Thank you, Laura, for being on the show.

Laura 17:51

Natalie Jennings 17:53
Can you let people know where to find you?

Laura 17:57
Instagram @lauracarrollphoto. Yeah, two r's, two l's. Yep. My website

Natalie Jennings 18:08

Natalie Jennings 18:08
Well, thank you so much for being here. And again, if you're listening, and you're wondering where all these connections are made, you can join us in the Facebook group. It's or if you're just on Facebook, you can search photo business help with Natalie Jennings and join us. It's a growing community of like-minded photographers at all different points in the journey. So hope to see you there. And we'll be back every Tuesday and Thursday with another episode.

Laura 18:37
Thank you.

Natalie Jennings 18:39
Yeah, thank you. Thanks so much.


Hi!  I am a natural light photographer specializing in children and families located near White Bear Lake, MN.  This little business/best job ever has been part of my life since 2014 and I've had so much fun learning and growing along the way.  I strive for a mix of candids, posed and artistic shots and try to provide my clients with a gallery that is a true reflection of our time together but most importantly, a peek into what life looks like right now (only a little bit more put together and and coordinated, lol).  Photographing children is my thing. Children are magical. They’re unpredictable, impulsive and curious. Those qualities, among so many others, energize and feed me creatively. Those little in-between moments are the ones we'll want to remember. Wonder, pure joy, frustration, silliness, calm, love…all of it!  

Incase you were wondering….

Laura Carroll

I’m an extrovert but I'm also shy, sometimes unashamedly awkward and I definitely avoid crowds. I get nervous. I don’t always find the best words. I don’t enjoy writing. Writing this bio took me longer that I will ever admit.  I have multiple passions and lots of unfinished projects. Maybe it’s just part of life in Minnesota but I’m always freezing! Like always! My husband (he’s amazing) and I have completely different tastes in movies and music and we’re ok with that.  Our three beautiful children keep me grounded and love to get in front of the camera. They’ve also shown me how to use an entire tube of toothpaste in a week and how fun it can be to tattoo your face with markers. Did I mention that I LOVE them!

This photography journey has led me down a path of so many amazing life changes over the past few years. One thing that remains constant is my love of photographing and creating memories with people (and furry friends) while we do this thing called life. 

Take more photos…you won’t regret it! Get in the shot…you won’t regret it!  XOXO-Laura

Find Laura at:



we've moved to Substack! To keep listening to the podcast, join us over there!

📸 Get a jump start growing your biz!


My free guide outlines the 8 THINGS YOU NEED TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS:



follow along



#PHOTOBIZHELP #photobusinesshelp #pbhpodcast



join the community