A few weeks ago we talked about Flags vs. Star Ratings, however Lightroom offers one marking tool that we didn’t discuss – Color Labels.
Color labels are text metadata represented by a color. There’s a choice of 5 colors – red, yellow, green, blue or purple – and they can mean anything you like.
Lightroom offers its usual variety of ways to assign a color label. The shortcuts 6, 7, 8 and 9 assign the red, yellow, green and blue labels, although purple doesn’t have a shortcut. You can click on the color label on the thumbnail, if it’s showing, or in the toolbar. You’ll find them in the right-click menu under Set Color Label, or under the Photo menu. And that’s just a few of the choices! And of course, there’s always the Painter tool we discussed last week.
What do you use color labels for?
I’ve heard some interesting ideas for using color labels. These are a few of my favorites:
- what needs to be done to the photos – HDR/panorama sets, LR/PS retouching needed, finished photos
- output options – Facebook, Flickr, web galleries, email, print
- multiple cameras at the same shoot – each camera gets its own color, which helps identify them at a glance when developing
- who took the photo – particularly useful in a family environment
- workflow – to flag/star, to be keyworded, to be developed, to output
- rating photos – some people skip flags and stars, and just use color labels
The color itself isn’t stored with the photo. If you look in the Metadata panel, you can view the label text assigned to the selected photo.
Using Metadata menu > Color Label Set > Edit, you decide which color to use to represent that text. You can even create lots of different sets, although that can get a bit confusing. If a label text doesn’t match a color in the current label set, it shows as white instead.
But how do you remember which color to use? You could repeatedly go back to the Metadata menu > Color Label Set > Edit to check. You could write them on a post-it note and stick it to the side of your computer. Or you could borrow my trick, and add them as a panel end mark in Lightroom.