Reimporting is almost ALWAYS the wrong thing to do. Do you have a backup of your catalog from before this reimport? If so (and you should!) then I would go back to that catalog and start again. You want to correct the structure of your photos on the new drive to match what LR expects.
When I went to relink the annual folders via LR3 I double clicked the "Lightroom Library Pictures Folder" on my external thinking it would then take me to the annual sub folders.
I am not familiar with the double-clicking on a folder in Lightroom.
Well, that's not what happened. Instead, it selected the the "Lightroom Library Pictures Folder" as the folder containing all of my images. It then began digging through all of the subfolders when I stopped the process.
Could you be much more specific about what happened? Obviously you initiated a command in Lightroom ... do you have any idea which command it was? What does "digging through" mean?
The result is that I no longer have the old annual sub folder listed within LR3. Meaning, I can no longer click it and relink the folders.
You should restore the photos to their original folders from your backups.
This led me to reimporting (via add) the annual folder into LR3. What didn't carry forward however were any of my edits to those pictures.
Never Re-import. "Never" is a very strong word, chosen carefully. NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER Re-import. It will not solve catalog problems. It creates more problems.
Well, it looks like the damage has been done. I do not have catalogue backups and unfortunately have already reimported. A very dear lesson has been learned.
Always do catalogue backups.
Truthfully, I've found LR organization and photos management to be extremely confusing over the years. I've tried to read up on it at various points but still wind up learning via mistakes (such as this).
I clicked in LR to identify the missing folder. The prompt opened up to locate the file. From there I double clicked my master folder Lightroom Library Pictures Folder. The thinking was that double clicking that folder would take me one step deeper into my folder layout so I could select my annual folders. This is how a folder structure works. Lightroom took the double click as a folder selection.
I do not have catalogue backups and unfortunately have already reimported.
We're not talking about catalog backups. We're talking about photo backups. Do you have those?
Always do catalogue backups.
Well, that's part of the story. You want automated backups at regular intervals of your catalog file AND of your photos. The backups must go on a different physical disk as the originals. Anything less is like playing with matches.
DJ - thanks for your input.
I do have photo backups.
Then you restore the photo backups to the original locations, using that same folder hierarchy you spoke of at the beginning of this thread.
DJ - thanks for the suggestion but I don't quite follow.
LR no longer shows the folders under. This is the same location where it previously listed the annual folder under the "Folders" category with the question mark showing that the folder location needed to be updated.
So even if I put the photos back to their previous location, LR no longer has the folder listed.
I think I may need to write this off and chalk it up to experience.
Well, actually, after I wrote that, it occurred to me that if the catalog is also screwed up by earlier actions, then restoring the photos to the original lcoations won't help.
I'm not sure I follow the current state of your catalog now.
Are your photos now in your catalog twice? Once with edits present but with question marks and once with no edits from the second import?
If so I would do the following.
Make a catalog backup NOW.
Remove from LR the photos imported the second time. DO NOT REMOVE FROM DISK!!!
Then take the original photos and point them to the correct image files.
Need to answer your question in a few stages chronologically.
First - photos were shown in the catalogue with the question mark present. As described above, I went to point LR to their new direction but accidentally grabbed the master folder instead of the annual sub folder. I stopped this process as I could see this thing going to a very dark place.
Then - the photos were completely removed from the catalogue (they no longer showed up in LR at all)
Now - I reimported. Photos are now in the catalogue (shown in LR) but without edits
The behavior you are describing is consistent with initiating a synchronize operation and not a find missing photos operation. I don't believe it's possible to remove photos from the library with the later.
But if you are correct that the images were removed from the catalog and then you reimported them then I think you are sunk. The edits are gone.