Capture One Pro 9 Screenshot

Importing & Organizing Photos in Capture One Pro 9 (Podcast 537)

As I switch my digital imaging workflow to Phase One's Capture One Pro 9, I'm learning how to bring out the most from this powerful raw image processing software, and today I'm going to share how I'm now importing and organizing my images. You might remember from episode 534 that I have just...

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Martin Bailey
Martin Bailey is a nature and wildlife photographer and educator based in Tokyo. He's a pioneering Podcaster and blogger, and an X-Rite Coloratti member.
  • Gigi Embrechts
    Posted at 13:52h, 23 August Reply

    I just moved to CaptureOne from Lightroom and I have decided to use Sessions instead of Catalogs. With Sessions it keeps every shoot organized with specific folders which you can change for your workflow. The reason to use Sessions over Catalogs is if you happen to get a corrupt file when you upload it will not effect the every image as in Catalogs. This happened to me in Lightroom.
    I like the organization of Sessions over Catalogs.

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 18:04h, 23 August Reply

      Interesting point about the corruption Gigi, but do you have any evidence that a corrupt file can take the whole catalog with it in Capture One?

      BTW, I make regular backups of my Catalogs, so if anything ever happened to one, I could revert easily to a previous version, so this isn’t a concern for me.

  • Steven Martin
    Posted at 02:58h, 26 August Reply

    Hi Martin, well you’ve certainly given me some food for thought in terms of switching away from Lightroom. Out of interest, now that you’re well and truly an established photographic pro, would you consider doing a podcast on how your revenue streams break down? Obviously I don’t mean detailed figures, but in terms of the percentage you make from tours / stock photography / print sales etc. It’d be really interesting as an aspiring (hmm, more like daydreaming) pro.

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 06:41h, 26 August Reply

      Hi Steve,

      There isn’t a full podcast in it, but my revenue, off the top of my head, is probably 60% tours, 10% from stock sales, 1o% from ebooks and articles, 10% from prints, 5% from education related activities and the last 5% from affiliate sales etc. It differs from year to year though. If I release a new ebook, it’s a larger percentage. I also made an exclusive stock sale this year that brought in a few months rent, which was nice.


      • Steven Martin
        Posted at 18:15h, 26 August Reply

        Hi Martin,

        Thanks for your reply – that’s really interesting to know. And congratulations on the exclusive stock sale!


  • Don Ries
    Posted at 22:09h, 31 August Reply

    Hello Martin and Steven,

    I transferred from Lightroom to Capture One ago and your conversations are very helpful. The first thing I tried to do was migrate all of my pictures to single Catalog and I had to give that up for the same reasons you did., and I to use the calendar as my Dewey Decimal system, but my process isn’t as sophisticated as mine are.

    Question: I thought that Media Pro would be a good application to manage images at the “catalog level” but I couldn’t make it manage. all of the photo’s on my servers. I tried the free trial and I had several conversations with Pro Media and I wasn’t able to make it work for me, primarily because I couldn’t get Media Pro to transfer photos from my camera. I now use Nikon ViewNX 2 for importing and use Capture One in my process until I need to go to Photoshop for editing the images. Do you have recommendations on products to replace ViewNX 2 and Photoshop?

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 08:03h, 02 September Reply

      Hi Don,

      I’m pleased you’ve found this helpful.

      I used to use Media Pro before Lightroom came out, but haven’t used it since, and I am now doing all of my import and cataloging with Capture One, so I’m afraid I can’t really be of much use here. There are alternatives to Photoshop, but again, I don’t use them, and I prefer not to recommend products that I don’t personally use or at least have first hand experience with.

      Have you considered just using multiple Capture One catalogs, as I’m now doing? It’s pretty easy to manage, and you can switch between catalogs quickly too.


  • Tony Mitchell
    Posted at 19:47h, 02 September Reply

    Hi Martin

    I transferred to Capture One from Aperture 12 months ago and found the transition difficult to say the least. You mention that you cannot apply generic keywords on import, they can be applied by creating a user preset then applying them with Adjustments>Styles>User Presets>Keywords and then select the required Keywords. You need to select Stack Styles for multiply Keywords, Metadata etc. You can create a user preset by selecting an image that has the required keyword already applied then in the Keyword drop down menu select save user preset in the same way that an IPTC user preset is created. This is a little long winded to set up but once all your presets are created it works well.

    Regards Tony

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 20:12h, 02 September Reply

      Hi Tony,

      Thanks for the hint on the keywording. The word generic may have been a little misleading. I’ll probably do what you say to add the keyword MBP, which I usually add to all of my images, but apart from that, I will need to continue to add the rest of the keywords after the event, because they are always different and I can’t really foresee what keywords I’ll need until after the shoot.


      • Tony Mitchell
        Posted at 07:49h, 03 September Reply

        Hi Martin

        Looking forward to your ongoing evaluation, comments and tips on COP

        Regards Tony

  • Chris Percival
    Posted at 10:30h, 04 September Reply

    Very interesting and helpful blog. How do you copy a final image in, say “16′ catalog, to the “Finals” catalog?



    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 21:49h, 04 September Reply

      Thanks Chris!

      I explain how I copy my final images to my Finals > 2016 folder in the three paragraphs below the Exporting Originals header above. The thing to note is that the images are not automatically added to the Finals catalog. The files are copied with one process, then you have to Synchronize the folder in the Finals catalog.

      I hope that helps!


      • Chris Percival
        Posted at 09:34h, 06 September Reply


        Got it. Helps a lot. Can’t wait for the blog on printing.


  • Mark Hopgood
    Posted at 10:00h, 06 September Reply

    Hi Martin

    I have just started to listen to your podcasts over the last few months and am really enjoying them. I was interested to see that you have moved to Capture One. I have been using it more consistently since Version 8, although I still tend to use PS for most of the processing after RAW conversion. I want to make comment re the importing and initial editing workflow.

    With the caveat that everyones needs are different, I have found that importing into Photo Mechanic by Camera Bits initially provides the quickest way to perform preliminary culls, staring and key-wording PM is able to render full size images quicker than any other program which means that you can commence this process as soon as the card starts importing. It renames files on import and can use the cameras unique number as well as any other metadata you can think of. It can import to a backup location as well at the same time. It can create and sort into nested folders with unique names. Your IPTC metadata as well as keywords can be written on import. You can quickly add a tag which I use to mark files for deletion.

    Keywords, metadata, colour and star ratings are correctly read by Capture One. Once this initial PM process is complete you can then import the remaining images into Capture One with all this extra metadata. There are several video tutorials online explaining it. I personally have no association with the company, I just think its a fantastic program.

    I look forward to the next podcast.


    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 11:30h, 30 September Reply

      Hi Mark,

      Sorry for the late reply. I’m still catching up after my Greenland and Iceland tours.

      Thanks for your thoughts on importing and initial editing. Your method is certainly a good way to work for some people. Personally, it doesn’t work for my workflow. I make lots of initial changes to my images during my culling process, so I need to be in Capture One anyway. The same goes for refining my selection. I am constantly tweaking images as I continue to work through my set, and I change my star ratings as I do this.

      Although I add some generic keywords right after import, I also don’t do my final keywording and add titles etc. until my final selection is done. There’s just too much that needs to happen to my photos before I get to the point where you would be bringing the images into Capture One.

      I do miss not being able to keyword during the import, and I’d prefer to use the camera’s unique number in the image rename, but that’s really all I’m missing by staying in Capture One. The images render instantly in Capture One too, so the benefits of using Photo Mechanic aren’t really there for me.

      Like you say though, we all work differently, and I’m sure your workflow works great for you, and your comment will probably give others ideas too, so thanks again!


  • Bob Weber
    Posted at 22:48h, 06 September Reply

    Hi Martin:

    My work flow is similar to yours. I also found that Capture One worked better if I broke up my very large Aperture Library into multiple catalogs when I moved to Capture One. I have found that the only way to move file that I have worked on into a “final catalog’ is the export and import steps that you described, Do you know if Capture One is considering a process that will allow images to be moved directly between catalogs. It would make things much easier.

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 12:01h, 30 September Reply

      Hi Bob,

      I’ve considered sending an enhancement request for something like this, but as I wrote my email, I realized that it’s really only a couple of mouse clicks anyway. A couple of clicks to export the original images to the Finals folder, then a couple of clicks to switch to the Finals folder and sync it.

      I didn’t send the request as I tried to articulate what we would need instead, and because we would also require the ability to specify not only where we want to send the image, but which folder we want it in, the only thing we would really benefit from is not having to switch catalogs and syncing the folder, which is two or three clicks.

      I guess the old software engineer part of me just thought that this would probably not be very high priority, and therefore not worth the time to raise the issue. ๐Ÿ™‚

      It would be a nice to have, but I’m picking my battles a little when it comes to changes I’m requesting.


  • David Muth
    Posted at 00:09h, 27 October Reply

    Hi, Great information. Thanks.
    I just did a copy of one of each of my NEF and JPG files from several external drives and my current laptop to a single external drive in the hopes of getting one of the new Wacom MobileStudio Pro devices next month. From there I will go forward with the one copy and use your workflow for future captures.
    I ended up with a mismash of keywords depending on which file Explorer picked to put on the new drive. In some cases I had eight copies of the same files. Yow. Anyway. Is there a way in Capture One to embed the keywords in my pictures so that, in the future, they will carry over to anything that I chose to use to work on them? Thanks in advance

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 09:15h, 27 October Reply

      I’m pleased this helped David!

      I’m sure you will do this, but please do make sure that you don’t make that MobileStudio Pro drive your only copy of your images. Get a second drive and some software like ChronoSync to synchronize your main drive to the backup drive whenever you add new images or make lots of edits etc. The last thing you want is for all of your images to be in only one place.

      To ensure that your keywords are available anywhere, open Capture One Preferences and go to the Image tab, then under Metadata, select Full Sync in the Auto Sync Sidecar XMP pulldown, uncheck Prefer Embedded XMP over Embedded IPTC and check Prefer Sidecar XMP over Embedded Metadata.

      This will create XMP sidecar files if you don’t already have them, but this is the best way to keep data with your images for maximum portability and redundancy.

      I hope this helps!


  • Jozef Dassen
    Posted at 22:55h, 27 October Reply

    Interesting notes about Cataloging………………..
    I have been struggling with proper cataloging for a long, long time.
    I like Mediapro as a Catalog tool, but it has a terrible file structure. All images seem to go into one huge CatalogDB file. Unmanageable….
    I am using Capture One Sessions for all my Images, so it makes sense to use Capture One for Catalog also. CO Session is great as RAW editor and “storage container’. But CO is terrible as a Catalog. However this blog has given me an idea for the interim: I will try to make Catalogs by year and see how that works. But of course, as you pointed out, a Catalog needs to be queried and that is not possible in this structure. Maybe one day Capture One team will get their stuff together and take Cataloging seriously.

    Cheers, Jozef

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 23:09h, 27 October Reply

      Thanks for your comment Jozef!

      Actually, if you click All Images, as described in paragraph 3 under the Working with Multiple Folders section above, you can search across the entire catalog, if that’s what you are looking for.

      I hope that helps!


      • Jozef Dassen
        Posted at 14:28h, 28 October Reply

        Well yes you can search across folders in a Catalog. But the issue is, that if you make multiple Catalogs, you can not search across all images. I do mainly travel photography. If I want to know all pics I took in a particular city in a particular country over the years, that is not possible in the above structure. For me a CO Session is the master copy of the data. I do all editing in Sessions (and I do not really want to change that). Then I want to have a Catalog on top of all my Sessions for search, select, display, export. So I need a layer on top of all sessions. Not difficult to make, but you need access to the previews………. CO treats its Catalog the same as CO session: an image editor, not a image management tool.
        Maybe some day CO will catch up to this idea………….

        Cheers, Jozef

        • Martin Bailey
          Posted at 15:33h, 28 October Reply

          Aah, yes. I see what you mean. That is something that I miss too.

          I’d like to be able to either search across multiple catalogs that Capture One Pro knows about, or just make the structure of the catalogs more efficient, so that I can go back to having all of my images in one catalog.

          Having said that, because I put all of my final selects, my best photos, in a single catalog, I can go in and search across images from the last 16 years. My problems start when I need to look for something that is not my best work.


  • Neels
    Posted at 00:12h, 09 November Reply

    Hi There

    I have my images on an external drive and my catalogue backed up. I now want o use Capture One on my desktop PC. When I connect the Ext drive – the drive is allocated the letter “I:\” and not “E:\”

    This no has the effect that all my thumbnail images are marked “? Offline” Is there an easy way to solve this or do I now have to go and LOCATE each and every folder?

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 00:26h, 09 November Reply

      Hi Neels,

      To avoid changing the location of the files every time you move computers, you’ll need to change the drive letters on your computers to match. If E is free on your desktop, just change the drive to E. If it is not, you might want to change both to something high, like X (for external).

      Here’s an article on how to do this:

      I am about to turn in for the day right now, so I can’t check if you have to relocate every folder, but I don’t think that will be the case. You can either relocate a higher level, or once you relocate one folder, Capture One might intelligently auto-locate the others.

      Let me know how you get on with the drive letters first and if you still have problems, I’ll look into this more for you.


  • Michael Elkan
    Posted at 15:09h, 04 December Reply

    Hi Martin,

    Thanks for sharing your experience, migrating from Lightroom (LR) to Capture One (C1).
    Your review has finally persuaded me to give C1 a serious try!

    I assumed my first task after downloading and installing the free trial of C1 version 10, was to import my entire LR catalog containing 132,440 images going back to 2004.
    As you described when you first tried something similar, this became impossible. Your advice to create multiple C1 catalogs makes perfect sense, since I also use the Year-Month-Day catalog structure in LR.

    I can see how to create a C1 catalog and name it 2016, for example.
    So my question is this; how to import the 2016 folder from my one LR catalog into the C1 catalog: 2016?
    Iโ€™m guessing I have to first breakdown my LR catalog into a series of one-year catalogs and import each one of them sequentially. Would that be right?


    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 15:22h, 04 December Reply

      Hi Michael,

      I’m pleased this has helped.

      I thought I’d included the method I used to break down my catalog into individual years, but it seems I only included that in my first Jumping Ship post. ๐Ÿ™

      Anyway, all you need to do is right-click each top level year folder and select Export This Folder as a Catalog. Select to not include the images. You just need a catalog. Once you have a catalog for each year, you can import these individually into Capture One Pro.

      Let me know if that doesn’t make sense.

      Have fun!


  • Sascha
    Posted at 00:43h, 14 February Reply

    Hello Martin,
    I’m a LR user but I’m not very happy with Adobes subscription model and additionally to that I shifted from canon to sony cameras……that’s the way I’ve found capture one. So I’ve downloaded capture one pro for sony trial version to give it a try. Your blogs are very helpful with giving advice for the first steps in that program, just started to make a new catalog in capture one and importing my photos. Luckily my library system in LR was similar organized like yours in years.

    The actual problem I have is that I don’t have just photos in my library folders, there are videos, too. I don’t need the videos for capture one but they get automatically imported. Is there any easy way to delete all videos from the capture one catalog? And it would be nice if there would be a possibility that capture one in future ignore video files.


    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 20:07h, 15 February Reply

      Hi Sascha,

      I’m glad my blog posts have been helping with your migration preparation.

      First of all, to filter out all of your videos (for deletion) select All Images under Catalog Collections, then click the ellipses (…) on the top right of the Filters panel, then click the Show/Hide Filters option. Under there, turn on the Format option under Basic, and you should then be able to click on Movies, to filter them out. You can then delete them, but select to only remove them from the catalog rather than deleting them from the hard drive.

      Also, apparently if you select Always Hide Video Files under View > Global Filters, they will no longer be imported under you turn this off again, so this should solve your issues.


  • David
    Posted at 06:32h, 29 May Reply

    Hi Martin,

    Thanks so much for putting all this content together on your transition from LR to Capture One Pro. I am going through the transition as well and really appreciate having your podcast and blog to help me through it.

    For the most part I am loving the new workspace, however there are a couple of little quarks that are causing me to pull my hair out. The main one, and the one which is prompting me to write this comment to you, is with regards to collections. While viewing an image is there a way to see which collections an image is part of? In LR it was as simple as clicking a little square in the thumbnail and a list of tall the collections it was a part of would pop up, but for the life of me I can’t figure out how to do this in Capture One Pro.

    Have you run into this and/or found a workaround? Any advice would be appreciated. ?

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 09:05h, 29 May Reply

      Hi David,

      You’re very welcome. I’m pleased these Capture One Pro posts are helping.

      Unfortunately, I’m not aware of any way to show which Collections any given image is in. I haven’t really missed this, but I have used that feature in the past, even during the move to Capture One, but haven’t needed it since switching.

      One way you could workaround this, although it’s pretty long winded and would probably get messy, would be to add a keyword to the images in each collection. For example I might add the keywords “Nature of Japan” and “Flowerscapes” to an image, if it’s in both of these Collections. Maybe even append a C or the word Collection, to remove any possible ambiguity.

      You’d need to remember to add these keywords, and remove them when removing images from Collections, so I’m sure it would become a pain, but that’s really the only workaround I can think of. Sorry!


      • David
        Posted at 09:12h, 29 May Reply

        That’s a great idea Martin! It is taking some time for me to shift my habitual thinking after a decade of using LR, but this will give me the functionality I’m looking for in my current catalog organization with only a small tweak in method. Thanks!

      • Jozef Dassen
        Posted at 09:55h, 29 May Reply

        Yes, this is one of the (many) features that Phase One implemented very well in MediaPro but neglected to put in Capture One. Phase One Mediapro is a much, much better Catalog as far as functionality is concerned. But it has an impossible file structure which makes it not very practical for large Catalogs. It is not very robust and Phase One does not seem interested in updating it.

        • Martin Bailey
          Posted at 11:05h, 29 May Reply

          Good point Jozef. I imagine that’s because they bought Media Pro, rather than developing it themselves, unless I’m mistaken. I used to use the original Media Pro from iView years ago. Maybe I should try it again.

          • Jozef Dassen
            Posted at 15:02h, 29 May Reply

            Ah, I did not realize it was an acquired product. I have always been wondering why they did not simply reuse some of their code.

  • Mitch Tobias
    Posted at 02:18h, 12 October Reply

    Thanks for this. Yep, migrated from Lighroom this year. I LOVE the idea of a Finals Catalog! I’m thinking of creating a master reference catalog – original files stored on a 16 TB G-Drive (400,000 + images and growing) WITHOUT the previews (deleting them in the Cache), but KEEPING the thumbnails. This way I can keep the catalog REALLY small on my internal laptop hard drive and at least be able to LOCATE certain images on the road. And when it’s hooked up to the hard drive in the studio I’ll have full access to everything.
    Then, I’d create a FINALS catalog on the laptop WITH nice-sized previews, should I need to create a custom presentation / pitch on the road – which I actually need to do often, but only from my 4 and 5 star images.
    Thoughts? ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 17:33h, 03 May Reply

      Whoops! Sorry Mitch. I totally missed your comment until Jane posted another comment earlier.

      I’m in a very similar situation to you, with 14TB of data on a Drobo as my main storage. I outlined my strategy in this post:

      I’m sure you’ll all sorted already with it being so long since you asked, but if you are still interested, please take a look.


  • Jane
    Posted at 12:46h, 03 May Reply

    Martin, Thanks so much for all your fantastic information. After Hokkaido I decided to jump from LR to Capture One. I switched cold turkey on a recent 3 week trip. I have made a bit of a mess of things at least twice but that’s how I learn – I read to find answers and they are there in your articles.

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 17:35h, 03 May Reply

      Hi Jane,

      I hope you’re well. It’s nice to hear from you.

      Glad you have given Capture One Pro a try and that my tutorials are proving helpful.

      Let me know if there is anything else that you are still having problems with and can’t find an answer on the blog.


  • Michael Bacon
    Posted at 06:38h, 17 May Reply

    Fantastic guide, thank you.

    I now have my import dialog set up the way I want it. How do I make all the images that I already imported rearrange into this structure without losing anything? Can I just click import and choose the folder they’re in?

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