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Color Labels on Steroids

Lesson 6 from: Organizing Your Images in Lightroom Classic

Ben Willmore

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Lesson Info

6. Color Labels on Steroids

Most Lightroom users think of color labels as just tagging something with a color. You’ll see how you can define unique names for image labels, folder labels and collection labels and then use that setup to limit what you see in your folder and collection lists. But that’s only scratching the surface of how much this single feature can transform your organizational system.

Lesson Info

Color Labels on Steroids

Now let's take a look at something as simple as a color label in how it can completely change the way you organize your images. But we're not going to keep it on the basic level of a color label. We're going to take it well beyond their Well, here we go first. You can click on a photograph and if you go up here to the photo menu, you're going to have the choice of setting a color label. And here we have the choice. Well, you have 12345 choices. And if you use the number keys on your keyboard, you can assign all but one of them to the image. So I'm gonna set this image as red when I do, I see a red border around it when it is selected. And if I click away from it, you'll see the whole area surrounding it is red. It's not just images that you can assign a color labeled too. We can also come in here to our collection list. And if I right click on any collection, there's a choice called add a color label and I could make that red as well. And then if I click away from it, you'll notice ove...

r here on the right side, there's a little hint of color and I can also do the same with folders. I've already done it to a bunch of folders here and you see the color labels and all I did was right click and there was a choice in here up here adding a color label. It seems pretty simple. Once you've done that, then there's all sorts of things you can do when I'm viewing my images, I could go to the edit menu and say let's select this based on color label and let's only select those images that are labeled red. And then it would select that. Or you can come back there and select all the images that are not labeled or you can come up here to the top of your screen and you have a filter bar and if that filter bar is not there, press the backslash key on your keyboard, the one that's right above the return key on your keyboard that shows or hides this filter bar. And in there if I choose this choice called attribute and then over here I see the colors and if I click on one we're gonna limit our view to only images that conform to whatever we have, dial in up here, whatever is light in color in here is what is turned on and if I turn that back off by clicking or I could even go over here and two metadata and you can set up with these various columns are and if I go to the left most one, I could set it to label and there would be nice because I could see numbers to see if there is one image that has the label of red and six images that have none. And if I wanted just the red one, I could do this or the ones that have no label to that. Uh that's the basic level. Now let's take it up a notch. If you go to the metadata menu in lightroom, you're going to find a choice called color label set and there you can edit your color labels. There are three kinds of color labels and those are ones for images, ones for folders and one's for collections in here. You type in the actual name that will appear within the menu when you apply those colored labels and you can type anything you want in here. You can type just bad photo. Don't look at again. Whatever you want to name them, you can do this a different definition for folders in a different definition for collections. Now I've set these up so let me choose mine up here. Here's Ben's Master setup. Once you've typed in all the choices that you want for each one of these, you can save it as a preset. That's all I've done. And I named my preset Ben's master setup. So now I've chosen that and let's take a look at what I use and how we can make this be a bit more powerful. So when it comes to images, uh sometimes I'm traveling and I finish an image or I decided son image. I don't need to work with again. And I usually use a folder system to keep track of the status of the image when the hard drive that contains my original pictures is not connected. I can't move an image from one folder to another. So I use color labels to remind myself that something needs to be moved to. My outtakes folder needs to be moved to the base folder if it's finished. Uh and so on. And representative of group is where I put a single picture into a collection usually and if it's labeled purple, it means that that single image really represents a wider range of images in the same folder and I should go look at it but that's not as important. Let's look at folders. This tells me the status of a folder. Uh Am I completely done with the folder and don't need to work on it anymore. Is it something that needs culling? Which means narrowing down to only the images that really need work If I partially through the culling process that would be if I chose this one here or have I fully culled it down to only the really good shots. So now the only thing needed is processing then I have collections and here I do a lot of talks like teaching Photoshop and I could find collections related to that I can find ones that are ready for public display, like for slide shows and so on. But anyway, I've defined all this stuff. I'm going to click change here because I've already assigned those to a lot of images. And now let's see how I might use them. Well over here with my collections, for instance, with your collection list, if you go to the very top up here, you can usually type in something that you would like to filter this. So I want to filter this down to only see images related to creative live. So I type in creative life and now I'm only seeing collections that include that word. Well, there's more you can do with that little filter area. Let's collapse my folders and just look at my collections. If you go just to the left where you can type in and you see this magnifying glass, click on it and there, you're gonna find the choice of color labels. And if you've assigned your color labels in a fashion similar to mine. Now, let's see how nice this is. When I work with collections. If somebody asked me to teach Photoshop or Lightroom, I choose talks and now I see all of the collections that relate to me teaching, where I could very quickly get in and start teaching a particular subject or I come over here and I choose ready for public display because somebody asked me if I've been to a particular location or they want to see some of my photography. Well, I know that all these collections are ones where with a single click, it's ready for public display. I can click here and show you images of architecture. I can show you cityscapes. I can show you fall color, whatever it is you'd like to see. But I can very quickly narrow down my list of collections. What else do we have here? Well, I have work me which are images that need to be worked on. And so I put images into this collection. I call finish soon for things that would literally like to finish soon and I just have them waiting for me to work on. I have a series like my wife doing yoga here are pictures from that series that are not done being processed yet. Um, and all sorts of other things. But if I want to get some work done, I look at the collections that have been tagged with the label of work. Mean, uh then I have active projects. So if I'm gonna work on a project right now that I've just actively been working on this will narrow it down. Usually it's just about instant. Let's see. There we go. I'm do Youtube videos every week. So these are images for my youtube. Just finished speaking at a conference called adobe max. And so this one I can change. So I'll right click on it here and I'm going to change my color label because it's no longer an active project. That particular project is done. So I'll set it to none. And since it no longer matches the filtering that I've applied to my collection list, it should disappear in just a moment. Usually it's dramatically faster than this, but my computer is running a little slow today. And then I recently taught a class on creative live on dramatic black and white architecture. So that was also an active project will come over here though and changed the label to none because that project is done as well. And then I can go back over here and instead of setting this to one of these uh color labels, I'll just set it to. Also. Now my collection list is back to normal. Let's go up here to folders and see the same thing with their. I use a different definition for with each folder means if I come over here and choose my color labels. If what I feel like doing right now is um processing images. I would choose the choice here called cold. And that means each one of these folders I've already gone through and I've narrowed it down to only those images that really need to be processed. There are no out of focus images. There are not three shots of the same general composition instead of narrowed it down to one shot that really needs to be processed. And therefore I can get to that quickly. Or if I feel like culling meaning narrowing down the number of images in a folder all set up to culling needed. And these are ones where I really need to spend my time and they're narrowing down the number of shots because I have way too many shots that are very similar where I wouldn't want to process all of those anyway. Set this up the way you think it is useful for your particular needs. It all depends on what you do with your images, but I find it can really change up the way I think about things. Um and that's color labels. We change our color labels by going to the metadata menu and there's down here color label set and there's my couple color label set. You can use more than one. Let's say that today you're working on landscapes. Well you can have a landscape color label set and therefore your color labels for images might be this one needs a sky replacement or something similar to that, then you can have a different color label set for weddings and you can switch between them by just going to this menu and changing them all you need to do is choose edit. And in here you can set up different labels for images of folders and collections. One suggestion I'd give you though that I did not implement myself is at the beginning of the names of each one of these. I would include the name of the color because when you're applying one of these, it doesn't visibly show you those colors and so you might not know that red means moved out takes but if I had that name right in there, it'd be easier for me to remember. You can also use color labels along with smart collections. We covered smart collections in a different video but just so you know, you can come in here and say you want to create a smart collection in in this case I'll put my smart collection inside of a collection set that we made earlier called Today's Class. And up here I'll give this a name and let's just call this move to out takes because I think that's the name of one of the labels that I use. So I'll copy that text so I can easily get to it. And here let's simplify this definition. Let's get rid of all these other things by clicking the minus sign. And let's say we want to find things with a color label. Well here it's his label color and that's literal. It means. What color do you have a signed? That's not what I'm looking for right now. So I'm going to change this to a different choice called label text. I'm going to say find all images where the label that's actually typed in for that color is called move to out takes. Then I'll hit create and now it's going to search my entire catalog of over 240,000 images and see if there are images labeled with moved out takes. It looks to me like I have already moved all my outtakes and unlabeled them. But let's make sure that that works. Let's come down to a set of images. I'll choose this one. Then I'm just gonna come in here in a sign. My color label have moved out takes. And let's see if this automatically finds it. You see the number one up to one. So yes, it did find it. And if I change the label to something else or remove the label altogether, I'll choose none. Watch the number next to that smart collection called moved out takes. Now it goes to zero. Therefore if I'm traveling, I come home from traveling and I know that some of those images needed to be moved to the out takes. I could click here to find all those images that were tagged that way. And then I could right click and say go to folder in library and that would navigate to the folder. And I could easily drag the image to a sub folder called out takes, for instance, but it really depends on your workflow. What kind of images you shoot and what's important to you to keep track of. Is it the status of an image is if a client has approved an image or not, is it been submitted to a client? Whatever it happens to be, think through what you need to keep track of on your images and then think about how can use image labels, folder labels and collection labels to help you do that

Ratings and Reviews

Deb Green

Brilliant in-depth, on-topic information well presented. Ben has forgotten more about LR than most people will ever know - his depth of knowledge is exceptional and he's also a polished presenter. Love the way each of Ben's words count, no chatter for the sake of it - straight to the point every time, but still engaging and friendly! I like the new office location, but do miss the excellent handouts that have come with Ben's earlier CreativeLive classes.


Ben is the best instructor! I have tried several different Lightroom organizational strategies from other instructors but find Ben's way is what works best for me. It is well thought out and makes working in Lightroom Classic a joy. Thank you Ben!

a Creativelive Student

Great ORGANIZATIONAL overview course for Lightroom Classic. Ben presents everything quite clearly. I've always been a "Collections/Sets" person and now considering working more within the Folders structure he presents. Which leads to a key concern - with Ben's "240,000" images in his Lightroom catalog - I wondered about discussing how to use Preview types (since they chew up space, and the discussion about local/internal image storage vs. external storage is an important one). Also with that type of quite detailed folder and photo naming structures, I wonder how often he runs into "character length restrictions" Overall, great organizational info and I picked up a few things, as always. Would recommend it for anyone new to Lightroom Classic or NOT new to Lightroom Classic. It's never too late to learn things or - in this case - move photos to another organization type! :)

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