If you read the Ann-alog via feed, you wouldn’t have noticed that I implemented a major redesign between Thanksgiving and New Years. As per usual, a few files went astray, and I got an email asking for the link to my Lightroom keyword file from this ancient post.
Since that post, I have keyworded over 50,000 of my images, the list has grown to 1900+ hierarchical keywords, not counting individuals’ names. Link to the new list: Right Click to Save (.txt format) I ran a test on a new, empty catalog in LR3, and the list imported without problems, but back up your catalog before you try mine, ‘kay?
One thing I noticed in that test run is that Lightroom 3 now lets me import my keywords with my “unusual” characters, like § or • which is a good thing, since I am using them with rigor now. In my list, all my top-level categories begin with an asterisk (*) and end with the infinity symbol (∞ type Opt-5 on a Mac keyboard). Starting with these non-alpha characters forces my list to sort in a way that is meaningful to me: all my subject keywords are at the top, then my personal metadata, like workflow reminders and descriptions of how the image was made, follow in additional alphabetized lists.
Since I wrote my getting started with Lightroom series posts
two three years and several workflow iterations ago, I have settled into an ingestion routine that works for me. At minimum, I want every image to have at least a notation on where, who, and what. When is covered by the EXIF data, but if shot at an event or occasion, I add that. How and why take more thinking, and sometimes belong in the title and caption rather than a new keyword. You will see some more conceptual adjectives in my list, like “calm” or “spiny”. I am working on my list of colors right now, which is only partially complete. If that’s a problem, don’t download my free list.
Now that I am teaching regularly, I want to quickly retrieve examples of different shooting styles, conditions or equipment choices, and have been adding keywords like “chiaroscuro” or “shallow DOF” to my images. This data makes putting together my slides for class go much faster. I am convinced that every hour I have spent keywording has paid off in less drama and time saved when I absolutely need to find an image.
I am diligent at recording location in a nested format: Country>State>County>City>specific location, using the two character country codes and state abbreviations. Obsessive, perhaps, but I can pull up every Wayne County, Utah shot I have when the county Travel Council needs something fast. You’ll be able to tell almost everywhere I’ve been since 2008 from my list.
But I digress: the reason for the non-alpha characters is that I tend to keyword fast and furious. Lightroom autofills beautifully as I type, and if I go somewhere new and that location isn’t in the list, I just type it and move on. The new keywords record as top-level keywords, alphabetically between the asterisks and the section sign (yep, that’s what § is called.) Later, as is convenient, I drag and drop the new keywords into their hierarchical categories, and that’s when I look up the minutia, like the fact that Wilsall, MT is in Park County. Each town’s county is usually in the first sentence in that place’s wikipedia entry, so it’s not a chore to add. And once it’s in the hierarchy, I can just type the town and don’t have to remember ever again that Holbrook, AZ is in Navajo County.
One other character I use consistently is the bullet (Option 8, •) to separate LastName•FirstName for specific individuals in my list. The comma is reserved by Lightroom as a keyword separater so that character is unavailable within the keywords themselves. Just about any other character would work, I like the bullet because it is easy to spot in a long column of text. I could do FirstName LastName, but I prefer the alphabetizing by last name. Once I keyword the names of people I know (or if there aren’t any people in the picture), I add §people keyworded to the image. That way I can find all the images that I need to record names for in one smart collection. It’s a good multi-tasking chore while waiting on the phone.
Three years ago I pledged to myself to establish a keywording routine. While I knew I had to do it whole-heartedly to get the benefits of searchability; I didn’t really believe I would ever give up my reliance on my folder-driven file structure. Maybe it’s age creeping up on me, but I cannot remember any longer which trip/rodeo/year generated the image I’m searching for. I don’t even recall when I stopped using the folders. Now I don’t have to. One day I realized that I trust my Lightroom keywords and I wouldn’t want to go back to the dark ages.