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Using Keyword Tags and Keywording Panels in Lightroom

Article Description

Categorizing your Lightroom images with keyword information helps make a specific image easier to find when you need it. If you have a lot of images, as Martin Evening does, you'll need all the help you can get.

Keyword Categories

How you categorize your library images is entirely up to you. If you submit work to an external photo library, however, most likely you’ll be given guidelines on acceptable keywords and categories to use when annotating photographs for submission. These guidelines normally are supplied privately to photographers working directly with the picture agencies. But some online resources describe how to use a "controlled vocabulary," which ensures that the keyword terms used to describe the images conform to prescribed sets of words universally used by others working in the same branch of the industry. When you get into complex keywording (I know photographers who assign images 50 or more keywords), it’s important to be methodical and precise about which terms are used and their hierarchy.

Keyword categories also can be used to catalog images in ways that are helpful to your business. For my commercial shoots, it’s useful to keep a record of who worked on which shot. Some catalog programs let you set up a custom database template with user-defined fields. In Lightroom, you can set up keyword categories for the various types of personnel and add the names of individuals as subsets (children) of the parent keyword category.

Figure 7 shows my keyword categories for Clothes stylists, Hairdressers, and Makeup artists. Inside those categories I created subcategories of keywords, listing the people with whom I work regularly. Once I’ve established such a keyword hierarchy, all I have to do is enter the name of one of the people listed, and Lightroom auto-completes the keyword metadata entry in addition to correctly placing the keyword within the established hierarchy. This type of organization also is useful for separating library images by job/client names. When the keyword names are in place, you should find it fairly easy to keep your library updated without having to type the same information repeatedly.

Figure 7

Figure 7 Keywords can be used to categorize images in ways that are meaningful to your business. In the Keywords panel view shown here, I can select images based on personnel who worked with me on commercial jobs.

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