How to Fix Blank Images in Lightroom

Have you ever had a situation when you opened Lightroom and all thumbnails and images appeared blank? After discovering that the memory on our main PC was bad, I switched over my Lightroom catalog to my laptop for temporary access to be able to retrieve images to our clients. I opened a backup copy of the Lightroom catalog in Lightroom 3.0 and I was surprised to see that none of the images showed up, although my file path remained the same. Here is how it looked:

Lightroom blank images

Lightroom blank images

I keep all images in a root folder called “Photos”, which makes it easier to open the images on different PCs – all I do is either make sure that the drive letter stays the same, or simply right-click the root folder and then select “Find Missing Folder…” and then point to the Photos folder on a different volume (by the way, if you have a messy Lightroom catalog, I highly recommend checking out my “How to organize images in Lightroom” article. If Lightroom cannot locate a folder, it typically looks like this:

Lightroom missing images

Lightroom missing images

But in this case, the drive letter was the same and all paths were correct. When opening the images, Lightroom did not return any errors and the images stayed gray and would not refresh. I tried everything from deleting all cache folders to reimporting images and nothing worked.

After realizing that something completely different was causing this odd behavior, I decided to reinstall my Spyder 3 calibration software and re-calibrate the monitor. I remembered that my monitor profile was corrupt from before and could not load every time the machine rebooted. As soon as the monitor calibration process was finished, I re-opened Lightroom and voilà – all images showed up perfectly fine! Very strange, I had no idea Lightroom used monitor calibration profiles to load images.

Hope this is helpful for those who came across a similar problem!

Comments

  1. 1
    ) Biswajit Dey Photoblog
    August 30, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    Apart from this blank image problem, I also face a strage issue…sometimes Lightroom says that my image is damaged or corrupted, but the same image opens easily with Nikon Capture NX….any clue?

    • November 4, 2010 at 8:40 am

      Biswajit, I am very sorry for missing your comment…

      As far as image corruption – do you actually see the image in Lightroom? Can you show me a screenshot?

  2. 2
    ) Amy
    November 3, 2010 at 8:14 am

    I have the dreaded blank images showing up in LR since last night. Nothing in my process has changed. I am running Windows 7 64-bit and LR 3.2. I do not use an external calibration system (I know, egads but my prints looks great) so this would not be the issue I am having. I checked the monitor color profiles and all looks good. I am at a loss and losing work time as every minute ticks by.

    Any other thoughts as to the cause?

    • November 4, 2010 at 8:39 am

      Amy, did you set up monitor calibration through Windows? If you have any kind of monitor calibration active, you have to kill it first. Remove those color profiles from Windows and see what happens…

      90% of the time, the blank image issue is related to monitor profiles.

  3. 5
    ) thoger
    November 14, 2010 at 9:42 am

    A quick follow-up.
    Had problems with Lightroom 3.2 not showing images on second monitor under Windows 7.
    After installing Windows 7 and then Lightroom, Windows 7 updated the display drivers, which lost me the second display in Lightroom.
    Turns out that your fix also cured this issue for me. I ran the “Monitor Calibration” in Windows 7, and the 2nd monitor returned as normal.
    Thanks :-)

    • November 17, 2010 at 6:19 pm

      Thoger, I am glad that you were able to resolve your problem :) Seems like the issue with blank images has to do with color profiles 99% of the time.

  4. 7
    ) Fabio
    December 3, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    This problem also appeared to me yesterday.. i was not using LR for a while and when i opened it i found blank thumbnails.. Reinstalling it didn’t solve.
    So i removed monitor color profile and added it back and voilà, it’s working now!
    Thank you very much!

  5. 8
    ) Derek
    January 2, 2011 at 12:21 am

    I thought that it was my spider 3… thanks for confirming this!

  6. 11
    ) David
    January 7, 2011 at 1:44 am

    I have a related problem, but slightly different.

    I scanned a photo using Epson V700 at 2400 bpi. Then I reduced the bit-density using Windows Office Picture Manager and saved the photo.

    When I imported this saved photo into LR2, the image was blank. I still haven’t figured out how to fix this problem!

    David

  7. 13
    ) Rajiv
    January 18, 2011 at 11:35 am

    Well true, I also had a color profile defined in the my Windows Vista
    > Display Settings > Advanced > Color Management, I deleted that, and VOILA!!! it works!!
    Thank you!!! :D

    -rJ

  8. 14
    ) iena
    April 21, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    i have done this : Display Settings > Advanced > Color Management but nothing change.. Still the same, still blank.. :(

  9. 15
    ) JIbin
    January 20, 2012 at 11:53 am

    Hi..I had the same problem mentioned above…
    I’m using windows 7….
    Go to Personalize>display>Change display settings>Advanced settings>Color management>Advanced>

    Try changing the device profile…..
    Worked fine for me…Thanx guys

  10. 16
    ) MaxG
    April 28, 2012 at 10:46 pm

    Hi Nasim, thank you so much for posting this!

    I had exactly the same experience (W7 64bit, LR4, ext HDD, path and all the same)… did not read any further and re-calibrated my monitor, using ColorMunki Display.
    And it fixed the problem!

    Now reading post 15 fro Jilbin, and feel that this could have fixed the issue as well.
    Next time I would try this before recalibrating; but since the later is a piece of cake, why not? :)

    Cheers, Max

  11. 17
    ) Jessie
    January 16, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    Does anyone have any thoughts for how to troubleshoot this for a TV? I essentially have a 3 monitor set-up with the 3rd monitor being the TV. Everything seems to run just fine this way with the exception of the Lightroom images on the TV. The images are visible in Bridge on the TV but not in Lightroom. I have someone coming over tomorrow to review proofs on the TV and I would rather use Lightroom that Bridge. Is there a driver for the TV? If so, it’s not something I proactively did anything with since I just connected everything and my computer display showed up on the TV automatically.

  12. 18
    ) Jessie
    January 16, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    I just wanted to come back and post what worked in case anyone else is having this problem. Although I can’t calibrate the TV, I was able to load a color profile for one of the other monitors. Then the Lightroom previews appeared on the TV.

  13. 19
    ) Michael
    January 16, 2013 at 9:26 pm

    Nasim,

    I, too, have a friend having blank images in LR 4. She can edit the images, view the metadata, and all; however, she is unable to view the images in any of the viewing areas, including the filmstrip. They do not show “missing” and all folders seemed to be in tact. She cannot view any of the images, not even in the import window. She states she hasn’t made any changes to files/folder on her hard drives. They do not even say “corrupt” as them still seem to exist in the catalog and able to be worked with. She also told me that she did not change any monitor calibration settings/profiles. Any suggestions I could offer her? I did try to perform research on this, but most I came up with was your article.

    Thank You,
    Michael C.

  14. May 6, 2013 at 3:29 am

    Fantastic… had the same problem! And after recalibrating… bam .. everything is acting normal (just looking better from the recalibration)

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