How to keyword your photos in Lightroom Classic

How to keyword your photos in Lightroom Classic

“What do you mean you don’t keyword your images?”

Recently, at a photography workshop, we went around the table and described our image filing system. In other words, how do you keep track and be able to reference and find specific images in your libraries? While we were talking about how we organize, keywording also came up.

What are keywords?

Keywords are words that describe your images. They can be a wide array of descriptors from the colors of the image to the subject matter. By using them you make it easier and faster to find specific images within Lightroom.

Central Europe University rooftop trees keyword

For example, this image is tagged with the following words: angles, architectural, architecture, black and white, Budapest, Central European University, fence, geometric, Hungary, O’Donnell & Tuomey, rooftop, trees, we_are_ceu

Personal preference and business

As with most things photography-related, it depends on what you do with your images. You can use a client-centric method, subject-related, location-specific or just use the dates the images are created.

If you are a portrait or wedding photographer, the client-centric option makes the most sense for you to organize your images. Personally, I organize my images by year, month and day. Then, I use keywords to help me find something when I need to.

Adding keywords in Lightroom Classic

There are a few ways you can add these words to your images in Lightroom Classic. I would suggest adding them before you import them if you can. If not, here are three ways you can add them after they’ve been imported.

Using the Keywording panel

keyword text box in Lightroom

You’ll find this panel on the right side of the Library module about halfway down. While you are viewing your images in Grid mode, select one or more images that are related and will have the same keywords. Then, type those words in the box, separating each new word or phrase with a comma. Return or Enter to ‘set’ the words for the images you have selected.

Note: You must be in Grid view to apply keywords to more than one image at a time.

Use the spray can Painter Tool

You’ll find the Spray Can in the toolbar at the bottom of the grid. If you don’t see your toolbar (shown below), type ‘T’ to show it. If you don’t see the Spray Can, click on the downward pointing triangle at the right edge of the toolbar and choose Painter.

In the box next to where you clicked on the spray can, click on the Keywords option in the drop-down that appears. In the box to the right of here, type in the words you want to be applied. Click Enter/Return.

Then, click on each photo/thumbnail you want these words applied to. You can also easily remove a keyword (or words) by holding down the Alt/Option key and clicking on an image again.

Use the Keyword List panel

This panel is below the Keywording panel. Here you’ll find all of the words you’ve ever applied to any photo in your catalog. If you want to apply a word already in the list to one or more selected photos, click on the checkbox to the left of the keyword (that appears when you hover over the keyword) and put a checkmark in the box. To remove a word from selected photos, click on the checkmark to remove it.

To add a new keyword, click on the plus to the left of the Keyword List panel name, and enter it as the Keyword Tag. 

If you don’t have an image selected, the word will just show up in the list for future use. If you do have a photo selected, you’ll see a checkbox to add the word to the selected photos.

These are just a few ways you can keyword your images in Lightroom Classic. You can also use the Keyword Sets and Keyword Suggestions panels for two more ways to add keywords.

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