Question M2 MBP photos need

Jan 23, 2023
I am thinking of upgrading from my PC desktop, which has 2 internal 8T hard drives, to a M2 14" MBP. I am a photographer using Adobe Suite and have 4T+ of photos, some very high-res, spanning decades of work. I often refer back to early shots, and it takes a significantly long time to populate the thumbnail view in LR. I really need/want almost instant access as I scroll thru the 50,000+ images.
So my questions are:
  1. If i get a M2 (unless I win the lottery), I will have to keep my actual photos on an XHD. Will using and XHD obviate the value of the M2 MBP?
  2. What kind of XHD would I need to maintain the advantages of the M2's speed?
  3. What is the optimal configuration of MBP M2 14" (balancing cost, performance, and desired 6-8 years life span) for my needs?