We often describe Exposure as a catalog-free photo editor. That is a key element of its design. But what is a catalog, and why does Exposure use a different approach? Read on and find out.

A catalog is a database that tracks all of your edits and organizing changes. The first generation of photo editors made catalogs central to their design. People associate certain features with a catalog, such as keywords, collections, and virtual copies. But catalogs aren’t necessary to support those features – Exposure has them all and its catalog free-design gives you several benefits.

1. Skip the import step

In catalog-based photo editors, you need to perform an import step before you can work with your photos. In Exposure, you just navigate to your photos and start working.

Bringing in photos to your computer for the first time is easy, thanks to Exposure’s fast and flexible tool for copying from a camera card. You can immediately begin to process your images, even while they are being copied.

2. Easy transfer of files to another computer

In Exposure, edits are stored in small metadata files in the same folder as your raw images. When you copy or move a folder, the edits go with it. To copy between machines, just use a network or USB drive to copy the files. On the new machine, open them in Exposure and your edits will be there already.

This makes syncing your edits while traveling or shooting on the road very easy.

In a catalog-based system, you’d need to export on the first computer, copy the exported files to the new machine, and then import.

3. Easy file sharing with other people

Another advantage to Exposure storing edits alongside photos is that you can easily share your photo projects with another Exposure user with a syncing service like Dropbox or OneDrive.

When you edit a shared file, the changes are saved in the metadata file and synced to the person you are sharing with. On their computer, Exposure notices that the photo has been edited and updates the view to show the latest changes. This enables very fast collaboration.

Here are some scenarios where this helpful:

  • Two photographers working on a wedding together
  • Working with a retouching service
  • A marketing team working on photo projects using a central file server

4. Backups that are easy and safe

Backups are easy to do in Exposure. Just back up the folder containing your files, and your Exposure edits are saved along with the photos they go with. In catalog-based editors, you have to remember to back up both your photos and catalog, which are in separate locations.


Exposure’s advanced design provides all the organizing features you need, while making it easier to move your files to other machines, collaborate, and back them up. It’s a smarter way to work, and is part of what makes Exposure the fastest way to bring your creative vision to life.

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