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Using Keyword Tags and Keywording Panels in Lightroom

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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.
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The most effective way to categorize your images is to label them with keyword information so that you can use the Find panel to search for pictures by typing specific keyword terms, or use the Keyword Tags panel to target specific groups of related images.

Keywording Your Images

You can add keyword metadata via the Import Photos dialog box as you import your images, or edit the keywords later via the Library module’s Keywording panel. Figure 1 shows how I’ve sorted the keywords in the Keywords panel into a hierarchy, which makes it easier for me to locate specific photographs.

Figure 1

Figure 1 In this example, the Bygdøy peninsula keyword is a subset of Places > Europe > Norway and also appears as Seascapes, a subset of Nature Subjects.

Notice that the keywords have been sorted into categories such as Nature subjects and Places. In the Places keyword category is a subcategory called Europe; within that, Norway, and then a sub-keyword: Bygdøy peninsula. It pays to establish a proper keyword hierarchy that suits the content of your library.

The Keyword Tags panel is very useful when searching for specific images. When you click a keyword category or individual keyword, the content area or Filmstrip displays just the images that match the selected keyword criteria. Because you can assign multiple keywords to associate the image with various criteria, you can cross-reference your images in many ways. To show you what I mean, in Figure 2 is an image from the grid cell layout that was selected after clicking the Bygdøy peninsula keyword. This image also contains the keyword Seascapes, so you could search for this image via the Keywords panel using either Places > Norway > Bygdøy peninsula or Nature subjects > Seascapes (see Figure 3).

Figure 2

Figure 2 This image is categorized in multiple ways.

Figure 3

Figure 3 The directly assigned keyword tags appear in the Keywording panel. Notice that the implied (parent) keywords are listed below, in the Implied Keywords section.

To start using keyword metadata, you can add new keywords to the Keywords panel (anticipating the keywords you’ll need), add new keywords as you import images into the library, or add and edit keywords via the Info panel. Whichever method you use, once a keyword has been added, it’s listed in the Keyword Tags panel. Then you can arrange the keywords into a suitable hierarchy.

Once a keyword is logged into the system, Lightroom auto-completes keywords for you as you start typing the first few letters for a new keyword entry. Apart from making your data entry speedier, this feature helps you to avoid duplicating keyword entries through careless spelling or typos.

Lightroom also auto-assigns the correct hierarchy. So if I add the keyword Seascapes, the Seascapes keyword is assigned under the Nature subjects category in the Keyword Tags panel.

Here’s how this technique works:

  1. In the Import Photos dialog box, enter keywords to be applied as images are imported. Notice how Lightroom auto-completes a keyword entry if similar keywords already exist. In Figure 4, I typed the letter C but didn’t want California or any of the other keywords offered, so I added the keyword Chambers.
    Figure 4

    Figure 4 Lightroom can save time for you by auto-completing keyword entries.

  2. After the images have been imported, search for them by using the Keywords Tags panel. When I click the Chambers keyword in Figure 5, I can see the entire Chambers Garden set of images I’ve imported.
Figure 5

Figure 5 Clicking a keyword in the Keyword Tags panel displays all the relevant images tagged with that keyword.

You can search for the same images by using other keyword criteria. Initially, I included the keyword Flowers. So when I searched by Nature Subjects > Flowers, the content area showed the images I had just imported, plus any other images that also contained the keyword Flowers (see Figure 6).

Figure 6

Figure 6 Images can be tagged in multiple ways, which makes related images easier to find.

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