On importing and duplicates. You decide when you import photos if the computer can import duplicates. A little box on the right side import TO panel says "Don't Import Suspected Duplicates." If this is not checked you can import as many duplicates as you want. See graphic below.
In Library Mode you can try using the Library>Synchronize Folder option to re-import photos. When using duplicates it is probably a good idea to have a naming convention for them as this would then clarify for the computer that they are different files. The computer goes by file name.
Actually, LR does not decide anything, the user makes all the decisions and the program simply follows orders. Being organized and always doing the same thing for a set of photos, as in duplicates, allows for a consistency that helps to avoid things like, "I don't always know where the other copy might be." Remember, LR only connects to your files on your hard drive and simply mirrors them. So, whatever you arranged on the hard drive is what you get.
That's sort-of informative, but at first sight not really useful. Basically, it looks as though when I first imported my pre-existing thousands of photos into Lightroom, I should not have gone with the defaults, but should have de-selected "Don't Import Suspected Duplicates" (I don't recall making any special choices when I first setup LR, apart from pointing it at my photo drive).
Attempting to re-synch a folder doesn't seem to allow me to import files that have already been excluded as "suspected duplicates" - LR just reports that there's nothing new to synchronise. However, if I find a folder (or a parent/ancestor of a folder) that has genuinely new photos, the import view appears, and I can finally choose to untick the option. Just done this for my entire drive; it took quite a while, and reported roughly 6600 "new" photos, which is a surprisingly large percentage of the original total. Will now mull over whether or not I really want to import so many duplicates after all!
It would still be useful to be able to see unimported photos in a folder, and to be able to jump to / work with the imported instance. Then again, if Lightroom is detecting duplicates by filename, it's possible that some are reduced-quality versions created by exports from other tools. In that case, I'd want to import and work with the original. Yes, I should probably give my library a spring-clean...
When I look at a folder, I want to see ALL the photos that it contains, even if Lightroom believes that some of them are duplicated elsewhere.
But Lightroom is NOT a file browser like Mac Finder or Windows Explorer. It is a database, it knows only about photos that have been imported, and not any other photos that may be in the same folder if they haven't been imported.
Is there a simple way to do this?
Simple depends on the definition you are using, but in general, I would say "No, there is not a simple way to do this". However, there is a way to do this, it involves a few steps. If you'd like the details, let us know.
It's difficult in these discussions to actually know what has happened and what actions are taking place. I'm not sure why you need these duplicates. When I take photos, I import them into LR, with the don't import duplicates clicked on, and a backup copy made to an external drive for long-term purposes (this saves, in my case, a RAW file). When I click on the image in LR and edit it I'm done with it until I need to do something with it by exporting it, then I export it however I need it to be depending on the usage. If I did want a copy, maybe to edit it in several ways within LR, I would create a virtual copy and do what I wanted with that copy. That copy would stay in LR right next to the original. If I want to work on it with a plug-in, I open the plug-in from within LR, do the edits, then the file is returned to LR and the image stays in LR as a TIF or PS file right next to the original. The only reason I can see for creating copies and putting them elsewhere is to have a finished copy of the file for safe-keeping in an off-site safe, this would be a TIF image for me. By linking the original within LR, then creating virtual copies or using plug-ins from within LR, everything is together and located in the same folder.
Just a point of clarification, if I may: the program, according to Adobe is not a database. The files/folders on the hard drive are simply linked within the LR application window. The only part of the program that is a database is the catalog of metadata (i.e., edits, camera info, etc.), not the images themselves. It is this approach that allows the actual image to remain intact and original. However, you are correct in saying that the program can only recognize what has been linked via import. Brian can look at all his photos by simply opening the folder and using a browser, as you note, or the old-fashioned way of clicking one-by-one which is not effective and is very time-consuming.
Just a point of clarification, if I may: the program, according to Adobe is not a database.
Lightroom is a database.
No, it is not a database. Ask Adobe. The database portion is the catalog, not the application itself. That is a fact.
A few references to show the difference between Lightroom as an application and the catalog contained within the program.
First references from Adobe multiple sources:
What's in a catalog?
<>A catalog is a database that stores a record for each of your photos. This record contains three key pieces of information about each photo…Because Lightroom uses a catalog to keep track of the photos, you can preview photos in Lightroom whether they are physically on the same computer as the software…on the same computer with the Lightroom application…It’s wise to approach your work in Lightroom with some forethought. You can move catalogs and photos, put photos in multiple catalogs, and combine or merge catalogs, but doing so can be confusing.
Another source: it is built around a true database for cataloging your images…When you create a Catalog in Adobe Lightroom…
To be exact, Lightroom is an application that contains a database element called a catalog that contains all of the metadata related to the photos. You may create multiple catalogs, but there is only one Lightroom application.
That’s just the way it is.
Splitting hairs and completely off topic. I shall continue to state that Lightroom is a database.