Workflow for Keywording


Today’s Question: Do you do ALL of your keywording up front as you are importing photos, or do you do high-level keywording first and then go back and add more detailed keywords after the fact?

Tim’s Quick Answer: I only apply very general keywords during import into Lightroom Classic, and then apply more detailed keywords later in my workflow. This is in large part because Lightroom (like many other software tools) only allows you to define keywords during import that will apply equally to all photos being imported.

More Detail: In some respects the ability to assign keywords during import into Lightroom Classic (or other software) doesn’t provide much utility. After all, because you can only define a single set of keywords that can be applied to all of the photos being imported, you can’t get very specific with your keywording at that stage of your workflow.

For example, let’s assume you have took a photo trip to Italy that includes visits to Rome and Naples. You could apply the keyword “Italy” to all of the photos upon import, since all photos being imported would have been captured in Italy. However, you could not apply “Rome” or “Naples” as keywords, because some of the photos will have been captured in Rome (not Naples) and others would have been captured in Naples (not Rome).

I still apply some basic keywords during the import process, but it is important to be careful at this stage of your workflow to only apply keywords that apply equally to all photos. That means these keywords will be relatively “generic”, which in turn means these won’t be the most useful keywords in your workflow. However, since it only takes a few seconds to enter some basic keywords for the photos you are importing, I still feel this is a worthwhile task.

Later in my workflow I will then add more detailed keywords to my photos. My typical approach is to only assign keywords to my “favorite” photos (those to which I’ve assigned a star rating). I don’t personally go into extensive detail assigning keywords, simply focusing on keywords that will help remind me of the subject appearing in a photo, as well as helping to ensure I’ll be able to find particular photos later.