Migrating my picture libraries from iView/Expression Media to Lightroom

My experience with picture libraries is a long and painfull one. The enlightening moment was in mid 2008 when I discovered “The DAM Book – Digital Asset Management for Photographers“, now in it’s second edition. Based on book recommandations and personal evaluations, I started to use iView/Expression Media, running on Windows.


After deciding to publish my web albums to Flickr, I evaluated both Apple Aperture 2 and Adobe Lightroom, and decided to use Lightroom (currently version 3 Beta).

Migrating my libraries from Windows iView to Mac Lightroom was done in two steps:

Step 1: Migrating from Windows iView to Mac iView

There were two concerns: compatibility between Windows and Mac versions when reading catalogs and updating the path info to accomodate the new picture location.

Compatibility between Windows and Mac was not an issue, the current iView/Expression Media Mac version (2.0.2.2096) had no problem to read the catalogs created on Windows by a previous version of the program (2.0.1.1631).

Updating the picture location proved to be easy; right click on the top catalog folder and choose “Reset Folder Path” then select the new location of the directory. If all files are properly identified, the red alert sign present in the folder icon will disapear. (It is possible that extra folders, above the updated path in the original hierarchy, to appear in the Catalog Folders area; you can remove them).

[add picture]

Step 2: Migrating from iView to Lightroom

The good news is that most of the metadata saved by iView can be used directly by Lightroom: EXIF, IPTC, ratings, colour labels, keywords and hierarchical keywords.

The only thing that require attention are the “Catalog Sets”, ignored (but preserved) by Lightroom. If you used hierarchical catalog sets to organize your catalogs, like I did, you need to replace them by equivalent hierarchical keywords.

My original catalog sets reflected a hierarchy like this:

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There are many possible solutions to organize the keywords, more or less automated, and you can choose any one that you consider suitable for your catalogs.

For consistency (and for esthetical reasons, to be honnest), I prefered to use hierarchical keywords that reflect the same structure as the catalog sets:

[add picture]

Once you define the hierarchical keywords and attach them to the same picture sets, you can remove the “Catalog Sets” terms from all media items.

Finally, save metadata to picture files; select a set includes all pictures and select Action -> Sync Annotations -> Export annotations to original files (Include custom fields, Include hierarchical keywords).

Close iView, open Lightroom and create new catalog (File -> New Catalog).

Select the Library mode and import photos to this new catalog; check the Keyword List in the right pane if the albums structure is preserved. In the Metadata pane you should find all IPTC fields, including comments, ratings, labels, etc.

Note: the post is incomplete, the pictures were never produces. It is preserved for historic purposes.

About Liviu Ionescu (ilg)
Hi! My name is Liviu Ionescu (ilg, ilegeul or eunete for colleagues and friends) and I’m a senior IT engineer. Or should I say a real programmer?

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