Keywording Challenges


Today’s Question: I photograph a number of events and have dozens and dozens of people’s names entered in Lightroom as keywords. I use first-name-first because I don’t want to try to put a comma into a last-name-first entry. If I enter a name for someone who may be a keyword already, I have to remember that person’s first name and whether I entered it as Robert, Rob, Bob or something else. Spouses are a problem, since I probably know one member of the couple but can’t remember the other’s first name. Entering the last name into the keyword entry box does not bring up the keyword. There does not seem to be a sort option as you would find in an address book to sort by last name. I know I can search by last name, but I am more concerned about entering the names. Is there anything I can do to simplify entering names of people other than reentering them all as last name, first name without any punctuation?

Tim’s Quick Answer: I think the Keyword List option in Lightroom is your best solution for adding keywords. This option enables you to filter keywords by text (such as last name in your example) and simply turn on a checkbox to add a keyword to the current image (or multiple selected images in the Grid view display).

More Detail: First off, I certainly recommend using the “full name” approach to adding keywords for the names of people. Adding keywords with the last name and first name separated by a comma is really a matter of adding two separate keywords. I prefer to have the full name reflected, since this approach provides more flexibility.

To begin with, when searching for images that contain particular keywords, you can use the “Contains” option on the Text tab of the Library Filter bar so that you can search for any text (such as first name or last name) that appears within the Keywords field.

In addition, you can filter the list of keywords in the Keyword List section of the right panel in the Library module, allowing you to filter by any text that appears in keywords for any photos. So, for example, when it comes to people names you could type the last name into the “Filter Keywords” field in the Keyword List section of the right panel, causing only keywords that include that text to be displayed. In other words, in the context of full names added as a keyword, you could type only the last name and see all people with that last name. You could then simply turn on the checkbox for the applicable names in order to add that keyword to the current photo (or selected photos in the Grid view).

So, by using full names you are maximizing your flexibility. And by using the Keyword List as a primary method of adding keywords, you can make sure you’re adding keywords consistently while also reminding yourself of names for specific people who might appear in your photos.