The View Modes inside of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom’s Library Module are an integral part of getting organized. Each of the View Modes– the Grid View, the Loupe View, the Survey View, the Compare View, and the new People View Mode,– serves a specific purpose when you are sorting through your images, looking for your very best shots.
Once you’ve identified your favorite images, then you can mark them with a Star Rating and/or Colored Label so that you can quickly find them again later using one of Lightroom’s metadata search tools.
Carefully sorting through your slides and negatives was a fundamental skill back in the days of film. The joke used to be “that you could tell a professional photographer from an amateur by the size of their trash can.” The nugget of truth in this old cliche is that professional photographers are not necessarily better artists than anyone else but that they spend more time carefully scrutinizing and culling through their own work.
The importance of sorting through our images and hunting out the true winners did not change when the world shifted to digital photography. Carefully selecting your best photographs is still a critical skill. Fortunately, identifying and marking your best images is easy once you understand Lightroom’s awesome View Modes.
Designing your own system
Often my students ask for advice on whether to use Star Ratings or Colored Labels or some combination to mark specific images. The truth is that there is no right or wrong here and that you are free to come up with a marking system that works for you. That said, here is how I have chosen to use these metadata fields to keep my photography organized.
In my workflow, I use the Colored Labels to track an image’s “status.” I mark anything that catches my eye with a Red label when I am sorting through a batch of images. Red, in my workflow, means “stop and look closer at this one.” Red, for me, means that this photo is worthy of a closer look but is not yet polished and ready to share with others.
Once I start working on an image using Lightroom I change its label color to Yellow. In my world, Yellow labeled images are “works in progress.” A yellow label, for me, indicates that this file is on it’s way to being polished and perfected but is not finished yet.
The Green label in my system is reserved for images that are 100% ready to go. I assign this label to an image only when I am confident that it is ready to be emailed to a client, or sent to my photo lab for printing. Green means that the image has all of the visual repairs and metadata that it needs to go up on my website or to be shared on social media.
Some photographer’s love the various levels of Star Ratings. However, the only Star Rating that I use is the Five Star (★ ★ ★ ★ ★) marking and this status is reserved only for my favorite images. I consider any file with a Green label to be good enough “to show” but only the absolute best also get to wear the Five Star badge.
I share the system I use simply as an example; don’t feel you need to copy mine if something else makes sense to you. As you learn about Lightroom’s metadata search tools and View Modes, I encourage you to devise your own system using Color Labels and Star Ratings.
My advice: Whatever system you decide on- write it down! Write down what red label or five stars means in your Catalog, and then stick with it once you’ve made your plan.