Lightroom Keywords | Where Are My Photos?

Where Are My Photos?

Lightroom keywords are a very powerful feature and should form part of your photography workflow. A well keyworded photograph collection means that you’ll always be able to find any shot you’ve taken quickly and easily.

Have you ever been in a situation where you remember taking a photo and you know you have it in your collection, but you just can’t find it?
If so then read on …

If you take a lot of photos and don’t get into the habit of tagging them with keywords then you’ll soon have great difficulty in finding specific photos that you took. You’ll end up spending hours on end trawling through thousands of shots looking for that specific one. If you can’t find it then you may as well not have taken it.

If you spend a little time assigning lightroom keywords to your photographs on a regular basis, you will reap the benefits later. For example, if you’re looking for your photographs of a raptor in flight then simply enter “raptor, flight” into the Library filter and you’ll see them.

A very important second benefit is that whenever you export your photos, the keywords will be exported with them. For example, if you’re uploading them to Flickr or sending them to an agency they’ll already be keyworded.

This is an important thing to know as you learn how to use lightroom. The good news is that it’s extremely easy.

If setup correctly you can enter a keyword such as “barn owl”
and lightroom will automatically add other keywords for you such as “raptor, bird of prey, nocturnal, predator”.

All keywording is done in the lightroom 2 library module.

Create Hierarchical Categories

The secret to this is to organise your keywords into hierarchical categories. This is done in the panel on the right in the “Keyword List” section.

In the hierarchy shown below there is an animal category. As a sub-category below that there are six animal groups – amphibian, bird, fish, insect, mammal and reptile.

Within the bird category there is a raptor category as shown below:

Each category is created by clicking on the + sign:

Enter the keyword tag together with any synonyms. Synonyms are alternative words for the keyword tag and will be covered later.

Also ensure that the three keyword Tag options: “Include on Export”, “Export Containing Keywords” and “Export Synonyms” are selected, and then click Create.

To create a sub-category, highlight its parent category first then repeat the above, ensuring that “put inside …” is also selected. For example below I have created a keyword “barn owl” in the “bird” category.

If you want to move a sub-category around later then just highlight it and drag it to where you want it.

In the synonyms box enter any keywords that you would always want to be associated with the keyword you have entered. In the example above I have chosen to always associate “tyto alba”, which is the Latin name for barn owl, with barn owl.

The screenshot below shows the new hierarchy.

The power of this is that whenever “barn owl” is assigned as a keyword to any photograph then all of the keywords and synonyms in the hierarchy will also be assigned as shown below:

If you add more synonyms to a keyword at a later date they’ll automatically be assigned to every photograph already tagged with that keyword.

Also, if you move the keywords around in the hierarchy then any photographs tagged with the keyword will automatically be assigned the keywords of the parent categories.

Adding Keywords To Your Photographs

The second part of this lightroom tutorial shows you the various ways to assign keywords to your photographs.

Select “Keywording” in the panel on the right:

There are four methods to add keywords from this panel.

Method 1: Keyword Tags: Enter Keywords

Ensure that Keyword Tags is set to “Enter Keywords” and then just type into the space below, separating each keyword with a comma:

Method 2: Click here to add keywords

Enter keywords into the box where it says “Click here to add keywords”. You’ll get lists of keywords already available as you type. Separate each keyword with a comma.

If you want to edit or delete any keywords that you’ve entered then edit them directly in the “enter Keywords” box as shown above.

Method 3: Keyword Sets – Recent Keywords

Set “Keyword Set” to “Recent Keywords” and then just click on any of the lightroom keywords you have used recently.

Method 4: Keyword Sets – Presets

Set “Keyword Set” to any of the presets and choose lightroom keywords from those. For example changing to “Outdoor Photography” will give you the following preset keywords to choose from:

You can also create your own presets by selecting “Save Current Settings as New Preset” and then choose “Edit Set”.

The example below shows a keyword set “Deer” that I created. Whenever I’m keywording photos after a deer photo shoot, I select this and choose from the keywords:

Synchronize your keywords

The next lightroom keywords tip is extremely powerful. If you’ve been out on a photo shoot and are assigning lightroom keywords afterwards, you will want to assign the same ones to many of your shots.

Simply assign the keywords to one of your photos. While viewing your photos in Grid View, select the ones that should have the same keywords and click on “Sync Metadata” at the bottom of the panel on the right:

On the Synchronize Metadata form that is then displayed, click “Check None” and then select “Keywords” as shown below. Then click Synchronize.

This will assign the same keywords to all of the selected photographs.

Lightroom will now remember that when you click “Sync Metadata” you only want to synchronize the keywords. This means that you can now hold down the “Alt” key while clicking on “Sync Metadata” to synchronize the keywords.

Further Reading

If you enjoyed reading about lightroom keywords then you’ll find the following pages interesting. They’re all part of the Adobe Lightroom Tutorials series:

The Lightroom Workflow – If you get your lightroom workflow correct then you can very quickly organize and process your photos, leaving you with a lot more time out in the field.rved.