Task-Based Keywords

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Today’s Question: Do you use any of Lightroom’s features to keep track of photos printed, published, delivered to clients, or with “to-do” tasks? Perhaps collections?

Tim’s Quick Answer: For this type of task-based purpose I actually use what I refer to as “fake keywords”. These are keywords that identify a particular status for a photo, rather than the typical use of identifying subjects that appear within a photo.

More Detail: Keywords are typically used to identify the subjects (and even concepts) that appear in a photo. This “normal” use for keywords provides two basic benefits. First, these keywords enable you to locate photos by searching for specific keywords. Second, when reviewing a photo, keywords can help remind you about details of the photo, such as the subjects that appear in the photo.

The “fake keywords” I use are a variation on this concept. Instead of identifying the contents of a photo, however, they identify a context or task for the image. One example of a “fake keyword” that I use is to identify photos that I have shared to my Instagram feed (https://www.instagram.com/timgreyphoto/). I happen to use “InstagramShare” for this purpose.

With other “fake keywords” I will identify that photos have been used in particular projects, and I might include a category for the project as part of that keyword. For example, photos used in a book project might have a “fake keyword” that begins with”BOOK-“.

I prefer using keywords for this type of purpose rather than other features, such as collections in Lightroom. The reason for this is that keywords are part of a metadata standard, while collections in Lightroom are only part of the Lightroom catalog. That means that by using keywords (and saving metadata for my photos out to the actual files on my hard drive) I can still have access to that information even outside of Lightroom.

In other words, if for any reason I couldn’t use Lightroom anymore, I would lose all of the information about collections for my photos. With keywords that have been written to the actual image files, any other software that enables me to view metadata for image files could be used as a tool to organize my photos.