Until further notice, I can only accept new bookings for Saturday and Sunday shoots.

Kerrick Long

Real Estate Photographer

(573) 200—6339 photos@kerricklong.com

Effective Lightroom Labeling

A very powerful tool in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is labels. Similar to ratings, a photographer is able to apply labels to images that are visually recognizable as a color, and semantically useful as pretty much anything.

Image of Lightroom 3 showing color labels

Applying labels

Because Lightroom focuses heavily on being a tool for photographers throughout their entire workflow, its archiving and metadata soltuions are fantastic. Every time I import photos from a memory card, I quickly cycle through images applying labels one-by-one, using keyboard shortcuts. By activating caps-lock and hitting numbers 6-9 (on the number pad or number row), I can apply a label to a photo and Lightroom will automatically move to the next one. The labels that are applied with each number are as follows:

  1. Red
  2. Yellow
  3. Green
  4. Blue

Giving meaning to labels

On their own, color labels aren’t very useful. However, the developers behind Lightroom probably realized this, because they gave us the ability to assign arbitrary meaning to the color labels. To do so, go to Metadata → Color Label Set → Edit...

Image of Lightroom 3 showing how to edit color labels

You will be presented with a simple menu to give human-readable names to each color. I have decided to use color labels in my library to keep track of the status of my photographs.

Image of Lightroom 3 showing the editing process for color labels

Using the power of presets with labels

You may have noticed I have a label that does not use a keyboard shortcut. Don’t worry - I use an import preset to take care of that! I use the purple label to denote anything in my library I have not sorted through and given a label. By doing this, I save myself time on every import applying default labels.

Saving time and space using labels

Because I use my labels to denote delivery status, I can keep track of photos that were never even shown to the client. In fact, I take advantage of this fact all the time! Every year, I delete any photographs that were set to Do not deliver, freeing up space on my hard drive and backup disk. I also save time by not bothering to rate anything that was never delivered to the client; if it wasn't good enough to deliver, it wasn't good enough to get a rating!


You may find a different use for labels than keeping track of which images have been delivered to your clients. However, I do recommend you find some use for labels! They are time savers, they help you filter your (very organized) library, and they are super-easy to customize to fit your needs.