Tuesday, 20 February 2007

Lightroom and Keywording

Its not uncommon for people to believe only pro photographers who sell to image libraries really need the keywording and organisation facilities of products like Lightroom and Iview Media Pro.

Well since reading "The DAM Book" by Peter Krogh I have come to realise that keywording is not just for pros. It can give real benefits to anyone who has a lot of images to manage.

As part of my current workflow I have Downloader Pro set up so that every time I download from a card it prompts me for keywords. I usually enter the location and the event only, all the shots downloaded from that card are then tagged with that information (also known as metadata).

When I move the shots to my archive system I just add extra tags for any people in a particular shot. I also rate mark shots for later use in my web galleries with a star rating. The keywording of A single months worth of shots takes about 10 minutes using iview media pro.

This makes image retrieval significantly easier, as generally I am looking for a person or a place. The advantage over a structured file system is that you can have multiple keywords whereas the file can only be in one place.

Files are actually stored by date and type in a Year/Month/Day/Type directory structure where type is either raw,tiff or webready.

My initial thoughts about Adobe Lightroom is that it may actually remove the need to store different versions of the same file due to its sophisticated print options & stacks, more playing may confirm this. The Keywording facilities of Lightroom seem reasonably comprehensive so far..which is nice.

The image download system on Lightroom is highly configurable and (almost) meets my needs and could possibly make Downloader Pro redundant.

I am not completely happy with the workflow Lightroom seems to want me to work with though. It seems to be based around a single library and I prefer my current setup of a "working" and an "archive" library. Though it is early days yet so maybe I will find a way to implement this structure within Lightroom.


Lodge Photo travel images said...

I use the same concept of an archive and it took me some time to work out how Lightroom (LR) might work for me. My current theory is that you can use Lightroom as an "onramp" for an archive.

So... use LR to import images off a media card to the library (think of it as a temporary "In box"), then adjust images (and apply keywords) as necessary, then export them from LR to your archive.

Next, purge the images you exported from the LR library, because its work is done. This means you still want to have iView/IMatch or whatever to manage your (much larger) archive. And, of course, you still need Photoshop in case you want to edit the image in the future.

IMHO, LR is just there to smooth the path of images into an archive, and it's especially helpful if you shoot RAW files. If you shoot JPEGs, life is generally far easier anyway and LR may not buy you much of an improvement.

Chris Shepherd said...

Thanks Matthew,

That's really useful. I had come to a similar conclusion myself but kept thinking "there must be a better way" but it seems not.

Thanks for the comment.