So you are using Adobe Lightroom to better organize your photos. At one point you had only a few hundred images and finding one wasn’t so bad but now you have a much larger problem. You now have thousands of images and finding one is like looking for a black cat in a coal cellar #impossible. Lucky for you Lightroom is built for this sort of problem and there are several tools within the software to help you locate that cat after all.
The key is that you are using the tools in the right way, maximizing their uses and not wasting tools by repeating what they mean. For example, A Red Color Label means you hate an image and a Reject Flag means you hate an image. Now you have used two resources for the same message. This is not an efficient way to work. So today we are going to start you off on the right foot and show you one of the several resources you have access to within Adobe Lightroom for finding images specifically and we will give you examples on how to set up this one feature for future success. The feature you should consider using is Keywording.
What is Keywording?
In short, keywording is a fun game of word association. See a picture of a cat. Tag or Add the word “cat” to that photo. Now, you have associated the word with the photo, and you can now search for the word cat which will then pull up the photo you have tagged. Simple right? Well, of course it is.
Why should you use Keywording?
Well as we just discussed, keywording makes photographs searchable using words just like you would in a Google search but that’s not all. Keywords are also known as metadata tags which help describe the content contained within the photograph. The great thing about metadata tags is that this new information (the word “cat”) is now embedded into the file itself, the same as the date the photo was taken for instance, and this information can be detected by other software including the internet should your image end up there via social media, etc. So even if you were to move your images to another photo management software it is highly likely that this new metadata tag will save you time and effort in the future. Pretty cool right? We thought so too.
Which keywords should you use to categorize your photographs with?
As you could imagine, with there being so many words in the English language, keywording can get to be a little overwhelming over time. Not too mention that list of keywords will grow to an enormous amount. If you are as good at keeping this list organized as you are that junk drawer in the kitchen, well, let’s just say things could get messy. If you are new to keywording and just getting started, there really isn’t a right or wrong way but we would like to say that there is an efficient way of keywording your photos. Our best words of advice are to keep it simple. For that reason, we have two options for you to choose from.
OPTION A: this is a simpler, less obsessive version
- PEOPLE such as your friends and family (people – Face Recognition can also be useful for this)
- PLACES you’ve visited or traveled to (Countries, States, Cities, Towns, Events, etc)
- THINGS that are in the photo (cat, dog, bird, tree, etc)
OPTION B: this is a little complex and more obsessive version (my personal preferred method)
- WHO is in the photo such as friends and family (again, people – Face Recognition can also be useful for this)
- WHAT is in the photo (cat, dog, bird, tree, etc)
- WHERE was the photo taken (Countries, States, Cities, Towns, Venue, etc)
- WHEN was the photo taken (sunrise/sunset, season, event, etc)
- WHY was the photo taken (Wedding, Birthday, Holiday, Graduation, etc)
- HOW was the photo taken or how are you planning to process the photo (HDR, Panoramic, Black and White, etc)
Whichever option you decide to go with, stick with it, stay consistent!
We always say that when it comes to organization of your photography, whether with folders or keywords, the best thing you can do is remain consistent. Consistency is the key to success 100 percent. If you don’t, you will find yourself spending a lot of extra time going back through things later on trying to fix the mistakes you’ve made along the way. Additionally, the inconsistencies will make this counterproductive and not really solve the problem we are trying to fix which is being able to find an image when you need and want to. So here are some tips to help you stay consistent when creating your keyword list.
- Create Groups: the same way you can create a folder and then a subfolder within, you can create a keyword and sub-keyword within. This hierarchical approach makes using both Option A and Option B suggested a little easier to achieve. This could give you a more condensed list versus a super long singular list.
- Capitalization: my personal pet peeve. While this holds no weight other than appearance, sticking to lowercase for everything with the exception of the names of people and places will make for a more consistent and pleasing list to look at. You can also consider making the main topic (who, what, where, when, why, how) ALL CAPS.
- Quantity: consider making keywords singular or plural but try to avoid mixing and matching. For example cat, dog, bird works for the singular versions or cats, dogs, birds for the plural versions. Sometimes you will run into situations where the plural word spelling is quite different. For example puppy vs puppies. We would suggest using whichever option you have decided to use in your list (singular or plural) and then putting the other word into the Synonym area of the keyword tag. Synonyms are also searchable words within Adobe Lightroom.
- Verbs: as is the case for quantity, the same holds true for verbs. It is a good idea that you stay with singular or plural verbs. Do not mix and match. For example bike, hike or biking and hiking but not bike and hiking and if you were wondering, on both quantity and verbs we prefer the singular option. It seems to be simpler, quicker and prettier to look at.
- Name formats: this can be a little tricky and will most likely need the most thought but shouldn’t be terrible. Nicknames and Last names can throw you off. For example, we call my daughter Zoey, Bo. Would you create a keyword for Zoey or Bo? Well, that depends on which consistent path you decide to take. I’d probably go with Zoey and then add Bo to the Synonym field. Married names for women can also be tricky. Do you go with their married name or maiden name? Again, synonyms can help with this by making both options available to search. You decide!