Lightroom Keyword Approach Update

I have been using Lightroom since the first version came out many moons ago.  For most of that time, I have been actively keywording my photos.  It is a bit time consuming, but it does provide for good searchability and it also is useful when providing images to stock agencies.  My initial keywording was a little light, but I have got a pretty good level of information in there now.  The only problem is that I have to try and remember all of the different words I use for given types.  I almost always forget something when doing this.

The solution to this is using a hierarchy system for the keywords.  Lightroom allow you to have these hierarchies in the keywords such that, if you add one word, a whole sequence of other words will automatically be added.  For example, if you want to add AH-64, it would also add Apache, military, helicopter, Boeing etc.  This does require you to set up all of the words properly of course.  I took a halfhearted go at this many years ago and it didn’t work out well.  Recently, I decided to have another go.

This time, I wanted to do things in a more organized way.  However, editing the words and the hierarchy structures in Lightroom seemed a bit slow going.  Then I realized you can export and import keywords.  I exported the words I currently have and it created a text file.  Where I had tried creating hierarchies before, these were shown as tabbed indents from the words above them.  Therefore, I figured I just had to create a text file in the same structure and then import it.

I spent a fair bit of time creating the file.  Setting up the structure I wanted required a bit of thought and I had to change things a few times as I realized certain groupings would work more efficiently.  I also changed a couple of times to have the one word that was likely to be used as I keyworded be the top of the hierarchy.  For example, I am going to add 787-8 reliably but not Dreamliner.  Therefore, if I have 787-8 at the top and Dreamliner below, it will get added without me thinking about it.  The same for F-22 versus Raptor.

By taking a couple of weeks to create the list, I got it pretty well laid out.  I remembered to add stuff as I went that I had initially forgotten so the final list was pretty comprehensive.  I will have still missed out on some stuff but it didn’t have to be everything.  All of the existing keywords are still going to be there, and I can add more stuff later if it seems valuable.  Finally, I imported the file to Lightroom and boom, all of the new structures were there.  Next time I add a bunch of stuff, we shall see whether it makes a significant different to the process.

One thing to note, if you have the keyword box set to Enter Keywords, this hierarchy approach doesn’t work. Much frustration ensued when I first found this. However, some good guidance was provided and by changing to Will Export, things work as intended. No idea why that is necessary but, now I know, things are okay. I am also going to progressively clean up the old keywords to get rid of the non-hierarchy ones to ease entry even further.

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