Lightroom Workflow: Using Color Labels to track status
Posted on 12 Oct ’09 by Earl Moore
I use the Color Labels feature in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 to track the status of my photos through my post-processing and publishing workflow. I thought I’d share how I’m doing this.
I. The Technical Stuff:
Adobe Lightroom has five Color Labels you can apply to photos: Red, Yellow, Green, Blue, and Purple. I use the last four of these Color Labels to help me define the process status of selected photos. Here’s how I’ve defined what each Color Label designates.
Yellow – photo perhaps needs some post-processing adjustments.
Green – photo ready for publishing either to blog or gallery.
Blue – photo published/posted on blog (Meandering Passage).
Purple – photo published to gallery (Zenfolio).
To make this work efficiently I’ve created smart collections to collect photos labeled with each color. Yellow labeled photos would appear in the “Awaiting Post-Processing” smart-collection, Green labeled photos in the “Awaiting Publication” smart-collection, Blue labeled photos in the “Published to Blog” smart-collection and Purple labeled photos in the “Published to Gallery” smart-collection.
These smart collections are easily created by specifying a matching label color rule–see below.
Using smart-collections means that as I change the label color or status of a photo it automatically moves from one smart-collection to the next.
II. How I use It:
As I import photos I do initial screening. Those photos I judge as having promise I’ll apply a Yellow Label which signifies they need to be looked at again. These photos will be in the Awaiting Post-Processing smart-collection. If I judge the photo is good as shot I’ll apply a Green Label which adds it to the “Awaiting Publication” smart-collection.
As time permits I’ll make whatever adjustment needed on the photos in the “Awaiting Post-Processing” smart-collection. When I deem a photo “ready” I’ll change it’s color label to Green which automatically removes the photo from “Awaiting Post-Processing” and adds it to “Awaiting Publication” smart-collection.
Photos ready for publishing, either to my blog or my gallery, will be in the “Awaiting Publication” smart-collection. This makes it simple if I quickly need a photo for a blog post–all those ready will be in one location.
When I publish a photo to my Blog I change the color label to the Blue Label which moves it from the “Awaiting Publication” smart-collection to the “Published to Blog” smart-collection. If I post a photo to my Gallery I’ll change the color label to the Purple Label moving the photo from where it was, in the “Awaiting Publication” or “Published to Blog” smart-collections, to the “Published to Gallery” smart-collection.
Since a photo can only have one color label I don’t signify if a photo has been posted both to my Blog and Gallery, but for my purposes the Gallery supersedes the Blog and this hasn’t been a problem. If I needed to track exactly which photos have been posted to both Blog and Gallery I could use the Red Label.
This process makes it easy to visually track the status of photos in my workflow. Even looking in my date sorted main library I can quickly tell the status of photos with Color Labels. Also when reviewing the main library I can quickly route a photo into my workflow by adding a Yellow or Green Label.
If makes it easy to keep track of which photos I’ve published or posted to my Blog or Gallery. I can go to the appropriate smart-collection and quickly see all of them in that group.
It is a manual process of changing the Color Labels so you have to be heedful about doing so. But, it’s only a matter of a single click of a colored box–not too hard.