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Outback Photo Handbook: Image Organization

Veit's personal Lightroom Workflow Experience: Part 3

by Veit Irtenkauf

Manage the Digital Workflow


The first two parts of this series examined how to manage new images that I bring into my workspace (panoramic images as well as images copied over from my travel notebook). Part 3 examines how to organize my existing images with a specific purpose in mind: Photo Blogging.


Yes, I go with the times. I photo-blog (check out my blog at And there are multiple reason for doing so, from having to work with my images all the time to being able to publish my work in a new output format (the web, as opposed to print) to forcing myself to get out of my comfort zone by doing what I’m not so good at (street shooting, people, sports) and not just doing the same old landscapes and panoramas. It’s actually a very interesting experience, so I’m glad that I started my blog.

But photo-blogging also creates some interesting workflow challenges:

  • Some of my images that are not good enough for printing (e.g. too much cropping needed and thus not enough pixels for printing), but are still good enough for posting on the web. So they exist, but not in my archives.
  • Some non-keepers tell a story and are perfect to be posted on a blog, but not good enough for print
  • Some keepers, esp. landscapes, are not that interesting when scaled down to 600 pixels wide
  • Since the theme of my blog is images from the county I live in, some of my best images are not “eligible”, since they were taken somewhere else
  • Keeping an editorial calendar and thus tracking images as posted, candidates or potential candidates
  • Using a set of keywords on my blog that might not match the keywords I use in my image archives
  • Do I need to keep derivatives for photo-blogging?

Thus, the real workflow challenge for me is organizational and not so much how Lightroom could help me to get an image up on my blog. In fact, my hosting provider has such a buttoned-down implementation of Wordpress (the blogging software) that I have to use their interface and have no other means of posting, be it from Lightroom or any other imaging software package.

To get an image ready for posting, I run the image through an action on Photoshop that resizes an image in 3 steps from its original size to an image which is 600 pixels wide (600 pixels is my own, arbitrary standard for posting all my images on the web.) During each step, the image will be sharpened with a decreasing amount. More than 90% of all the images sharpened with this action look usable and do not have to be manually resized and sharpened. Once completed, I save them as JPG and use a browser to post the image to the web. There’s nothing that Lightroom can do to help me with this task. And while I save the JPGs in a separate folder, I don’t manage them in Lightroom, since I don’t have to keep derivatives!

But there’s plenty that Lightroom can help me with with regards to organizing my images. Here’s how I implemented it:

Color-Labeling and Keyword Tags help to organize images for my photo blog

For my keepers, I’ve always used Photoshop’s rating system that allows me to assign stars to my images. I have not used the color labeling in the past, so I simply color-labeled my images that I tagged for my blog: Green for posted, Yellow for Candidates and Blue for Scheduled.

Even more importantly, I built a keyword tag hierarchy and assigned the keywords “Blog” and the nested keywords “Blog-Posted”, “Blog-Scheduled” and Blog-Candidate” to all my images that are on my blog or will potentially appear there. Whenever I post a candidate, I remove the “Blog Candidate” keyword and then drag the image on “Blog Posted” to change the keywords to reflect its new status. With “Export XMP Metadata To File” switched on, all these keywords are immediately written into the image file (or an XMP sidecar file for any RAW images), so the keyword structure is somewhat visible outside of Lightroom and Photoshop as well.

No problem to select all the images that are NOT in your blog yet

Of course, I can use my keyword tags in any searches. If I want to see all my images associated with my blog, I just click on “Blogs” in the Keyword Tag sections to see what’s associated with my blog. Even better, if I want to see all my images that are not associated (which I often want to do when planning an editorial calendar), I can use Lightroom’s Find function and search for all images not containing the keyword “blog”. The power of metadata search at work!

The keyword tag system is scalable. If I were to start a second photo blog called “Sonoma Photo Blog”, I’d create a nested keyword tag for “Marin Photo Blog” under the “Blog” keyword and then drag all the existing images on it. Then I’d create another nested keyword “Sonoma Photo Blog”. For any new image, I’d drag it to the blog keyword as well as the status keyword (Posted, Candidate, Scheduled). It’s that easy.

However, the color labeling is not scalable, since Lightroom only supports one set of 5 color labels. While not strictly necessary (the keyword tags would suffice), I like the visual cue to see whether an image is posted in my blog. Maybe Adobe will implement multiple instances of meta-tags in a future version, so you could have color-labeling or rating based on the metadata instance you are using?

I realize that there are different ways to implement this functionality. My implementation not only works for me, but it seems to also be future-proof. And that’s all I’m asking for!

The last part of this series will look into posting large collections of images on the web.


Manage the Digital Workflow





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