Join Ben Long for an in-depth discussion in this video Keyword, rate, and search images, part of Introduction to Photography: Lightroom and Photoshop.
- I've been harping on keywording since the second movie in this course, and I'm just going to keep doing it now. Keywording can be tedious, it can seem pointless, but in the long term it can mean the difference between finding an image quickly and not finding it at all. I think of keywording as being just like stretching or flossing, it's a drag, but the long-term payoff is well worth it. Actually, as much as I'm saying it's a hassle, once you learn your keywording tools, you might find it's pretty easy to get at least a minimal set of keywords slapped onto your images.
Keywords are simply words that are stored in the image's metadata, which is data that is in the image file alongside the actual image itself. Keywords can be searched, so they're a very powerful organizational tool. The format for them is also an agreed-upon standard, a standard defined by the International Press Telecommunications Council or IPTC. These days, pretty much every image editor conforms to the IPTC metadata standard, so keywords that you enter in one application will be visible in another. What's more, as you export different versions of the image, the keywords will go with it.
So you don't need to worry about your keyword efforts being obsoleted at some point. Because keywords are standardized, they should be good for a long time. As for what words to assign to an image, that's up to you. Obviously, they should relate to the image somehow, but you'll need to decide how granular to go in your keywording. For a portrait, I will add the keyword portrait and the name of the person and maybe their gender and whether it's interior or exterior. If there's some other detail in the frame that's significant, like a moose, I'll add the word moose.
Perhaps I'll put the location. For a landscape I'll include the location, if I have a landscape, desert, forest, and so on. I label black and white images of any kind black and white, I think you get the idea. Basically, it's anything you might ever want to search on. Photos from stock agencies like iStock Photos, or Getty Images, or Adobe, they're heavily keyworded, so if you want to see examples of very detailed keyword taxonomies, you can learn a lot by looking at what keywords a stock agency chooses. Just get an image from a stock agency, open it up in Lightroom, Photoshop, any other application that lets you look at keywords.
So here I am in Lightroom in the library module, and I'm looking at the keyword panel over here. This is where I both see what keywords have been applied to an image, and where I apply additional keywords. And this image already has two keywords, California and Yosemite, because I told the import dialog to apply those two keywords at import time when I brought these images in. So I'm just gonna add some other keywords. I can either do this here in the grid view, or I can go in larger to see things. I'm going to just stay here in the grid view.
I can always make my thumbnails larger if I'm having trouble seeing details. I'm going to select a bunch of images here and give them a trees keyword, so I'm going to just start typing the word trees. As I do that, it shows me any keywords I've used before. So this is a really nice way of having consistent keywords as my library grows. You can also see that down here the most recent keywords that I've used show up as buttons, and any keywords that have any of these that have been assigned to the image or button, so now I can just turn trees on and off if I want.
Then Lightroom is algorithmically coming up with keyword suggestions and sometimes they're helpful. Sometimes it gets it right, but I find this panel to be a little confusing because the keywords are always moving around, so they're never in the same place as I use them. So I've added trees to all of these because they all contain trees. I'm going to deselect here and go through here. I'm going to hit vees and add a fog keyword. I don't see any of those down here, so I'm just going to type the word fog and now that will go into the Lightroom database. The next time I start to type F O, it's going to finish it with fog, so I can now just go through and very quickly keyword images.
Here are some more with trees. So I'm going to select all these, hit my trees button, these also have fog, I'll hit my fog button. I could add grass, I could add daytime, I could add exterior, and so on and so forth. This is how I keyword in Lightroom. Most image browsing work well applications also have keywording tools. You can even, if you want, go into Photoshop and manually type keywords in through a dialog box there. Again, they're all standard, they will travel with your images, so they're really, really handy. When I get ready to search based on keywords, I can go up here to the Metadata menu.
This lets me search on all sorts of different criteria. Lightroom is giving me several to start with. Date, the camera, type, what lens type, any labels I might have applied. I can pop any of these open and change this criteria to something else, so I'm gonna go to keyword here. The reason there are four of these is so that I can multiple criteria simultaneously. This is showing me all of the keywords in the current folder that I'm viewing. So I can say, find me everything with trees, and in fact find me everything with trees shot with an 18-55 mm lens, and it gives me these two images.
I can throw a ratings tag in here if I wanted to further refine that search. This is a very, very powerful way to quickly filter my images. I hope right now you can immediately see why I've been harping on keywords. Just this one little control right here lets me go from thousands of images down to 24 very, very, very quickly, so this is a great way of performing searches. It's not the only way that Lightroom has for searching. I can also simply type in text and it will search it, but you get the idea. This is what keywording is for, and I hope you can see that in Lightroom with just a little bit of practice it becomes very easy to quickly get them applied.
Where to begin learning tools like these? Right here. In this course, photographer, author, and educator Ben Long introduces the concepts and creative options behind photographic post-processing. From fixing problems to retouching, Ben shows how to do it, without overdoing it, with Lightroom, Photoshop, and the Adobe mobile apps.
- Importing and organizing images in Lightroom
- Rating images in Lightroom
- Adjusting images in Lightroom
- Retouching in Photoshop
- Making pixel-level edits in Photoshop
- Syncing and editing images in Lightroom mobile