Lightroom – Where IS my photo?

How to Find Photos in Lightoom

A friend contacted me a few days ago, extremely frustrated.  She had been asked by one of her clients for a particular photo, she knew it was in Lightroom but all that showed up was blank space with a ! in the top right-hand corner.  As her photos were in various folders, across various drives she knew it was there but could not get it to show up.  She had tried (re)importing it but Lightroom declined as it was already in the catalogue and various other ways of getting at it without success

Eventually, as I say she, contacted me so I could try work it out for her, so for her sake and others who have this problem I will show you one method of doing this.


Fig 1

Fig 1 is in Library mode and shows the missing images with blank boxes and the ! in the top right corner.  Click on the  !
Tip:  Regardless of which picture you want, click on the first one.

Fig 2

This shows the “Locate” box that comes up after you have clicked on the !  Click on the Locate option

Fig 3

This picture is a little ahead of itself as first you will see a list of files, navigate to the file that the image is in – see the No. 3 which shows you the image name/number and the folder it was located in.  If you have changed drives or backed up it may be the drive name has changed and the rest of the path should be the same.

No. 4 – Find nearby missing photos, select this box to make all your missing photos in this folder show up.

Now click/select on the image with the correct file name, this is where selecting the first missing photo makes it easy as you don’t need to scroll though, possibly hundreds, of images to find your photo.

This will close the option box and you will be back in Lightroom.  It is possible that all your pictures and the blank spaces may have disappeared, do not panic 😀 . If it is the whole folder that was missing its contents and it is near other similar folders it will have moved up.  Just scroll upwards using the left hand pane and it will be in your active files and, if you use a date format, easy to find.  If you cannot find it or you would like an alternative method to find photos in your LR catalogue then see below.

Alternative Method

If you have keyworded, know the file name, date, camera and lens combination used or other variations this should help you find any image in your catalogue.

In Library mode, under catelog click on “All Photographs” (orange boundary in Fig 4 below,

Click the \ key (next to z) and then use the options in the section with the pink boundary – Text, Attribute, Metadata – text being the most useful if you have used keywords as you can put any word, file name/number to bring up all the relevant photos – as you can see I have put “snow” as the keyword and it searched my whole catalogue and bought up all the photos, folder names etc containing the word snow.

Fig 4

I hope this helps you, please feel free to leave a comment, especially if I have made any errors or omissions. Or comment even if you have just found it useful.