I’m trying to consolidate my Lightroom Keyword hierarchy, and I’m trying to workout the most logical way to organise people. And I’m discovering it really isn’t easy. Here are the requirements I have when it comes to keywording for people.
1. If a client (a person rather than a business) calls me, I want to be able to find the images I took for them easily.
2. I want to be able to find photos of my friends and family.
3. When photographing a play, or doing cast photos for a play I want to tag actors so I can find images of a particular person again.
4. For my stock photography work I want to identify significant people who are either in an image or associated with an image. Eg photos of a statue of Oscar Wilde needs to be keyworded with “Oscar Wilde”
5. When working with models I want to be able to find find images of a particular model
I’ve had a look on line to see how others are doing this and I found several interesting resources including: http://bkkphotographer.wordpress.com/2009/08/24/controlled-vocabulary/ which includes a sample keyword hierarchy… but for very valid security reasons the [PEOPLE] branch has been removed. This seams to be the general story most people write about hierarchies of things such as places, or animals which are by and large easy to categorise. Almost no-one writes about how to organise people… who definitely aren’t!!
This is the sort of hierarchy I currently have…
Actually I have this hierarchy (or similar) no less than six times in Lightroom. Once for my portrait clients, once for family and friends, once for models, once for actors in plays and twice for stock purposes (real people and fictional people). Having six different hierarchies seemed like a good idea at the time as these were six very different areas. But after several years this has now started to break down. I have family and friends who have become paying portrait clients. Actors who are friends. Clients who are actors. And friends who have modelled for me. Even the fictional character keywords have started to merge into the real ones….. I knew I shouldn’t have taken photographs at a fancy dress party!
I need to simplify this.
I want to keep the letter parent categories – just makes it that little bit easier to browse through the hierarchy without having to use Lightroom’s keyword filter.
The initial thought is to reduce it down to two hierarchies: One for real people – clients, friends, models, actors. The other for everyone else – celebrities, historic people & fictional characters. What to call these people hierarchies? While doing my research I found one person call his real people hierarchy “People I know” – I like that idea and will probably use it. I guess that means the rest will be “Other People” – again I like that… referring to celebs just as “other people” sits very nicely with my view of celebrity!
In this blog entry I’m just going to look at how I’m planing to organise the “People I know” hierarchy. The “Other People” may form a different posting in the future.
The problem comes with what do do with different people with the same name? It’s not a problem when it is all in the same family.
But look what happens when we have a second family of smiths?
Lightroom insists on putting keywords in alphabetical order which means we have the two families of smiths mixed up and very difficult to distinguisth members of one family from another. The solution to this appears to be not to have the surname as the high level category but a combination of surname and firstname
I’ve used a tilde to separate the surname and first name. I’d be happier using a coma but that’s an invalid character in keywords for Lightroom. I did think about just using a space but I wanted it to be clear at a glance that the name was written surname first. For example: Thomas James – could be James Thomas.
So far so good. The next part of the question is: does this work when I want to find all the photos relating to a client. Yes, I belive it does, but in certain circumstances may lead to a duplicate entry. Suppose Carol Jones is the client bringing her daughter Sophie and her step son James Hughes to be photographed. This would be filed as:
Strictly speaking the Hughes>James Hughes branch of the tree is really redundant but in some cases, I’ve had the initial booking be made by a child minder and this be person I deal with so I think of the child as ‘belonging’ to that person. However later I may get a call from the parent and the name I’m then working with is the child’s name. So in those cases it is worth having a double entry.
You’ll notice that I’ve added a #C after the name of Jones~Carol. I’m taking a leaf out of twitter’s book here and using a #hash tag that to identify a little bit of extra info about the person. In this case the #C would tell me that this person was is the client, but who isn’t actually in any of the images. I plan to use #M to indicate a person is a model, I’ll probably end up adding a few more, but those are ones I think I’ll need at the moment.
I’m sure this system will evolve time. But at the moment I think it will work for me.
Comments, thoughts and feedback on this subject is, as ever, welcomed.
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