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Photography Tutoring in Denver

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Hey folks!  I'm happy to bring you what I hope is a well received gift.   My personal Lightroom Keyword Library in Adobe Lightroom 3.x format.  So why would you want this you may ask?  Well, maybe you don't, but if you've put much effort toward creating a hierarchical keyword list in Lightroom including synonyms, then you'll know how very time consuming this can be.  To give you an idea, I've been working on this one for two years (estimated 200  hours)  and it's still very much a work in progress.  In it's current state it has over 6,000 categories, keywords and synonyms.

You may not find my particular style of organization to be your favorite,  In fact I'm betting you'll think it's a little odd.  But that is irrelevant as you can easily reorganize my hierarchal system to something which works for you.  Where you are really benefiting from my work is in the extensive list of keywords (and synonyms) which I'm providing.  This allows you to add one keyword and get almost every other keyword you need (for example type in "flamingo" and you'll also get "bird, birds, flamingos, feathers, wing, animals, wildlife and pink")

Free Download | Lightroom Keyword Library

This download is truly free; however if you feel you've saved yourself a whole lot of effort by using this download, please contribute a small donation (whatever you see fit would be good Karma) OR  how about just a link to my website instead?  I'd actually prefer spreading word of my site.

Installing your Keyword Library
  • Download the zip file here.
  • Extract the zip (now you have a single .txt file)
  • Open Lightroom and choose Metadata > Import Keywords
  • Navigate to and select the text file which you have downloaded, and then click Open (Windows) or Choose (Mac OS).
  • It's that easy!  You'll now find a huge keyword list fully organized into an extensive hierarchy within the right window column of Lightroom.

How is this Lightroom Keyword Library set up?

Well, here's where you may want to modify what I've give you.  I personally did not want my keyword lists to follow "exact" grammatical rules or even necessarily common organizational rules.  This library is built around a system that I felt was "everyday logical".   The main categories are "Who, What, When, Where and How"  (why is there not a "why"?  I just thought that seemed to philosophical for labeling most images).  To me this is how people actually start to categorize anything they look at.

I also tacked on two additional categories for the business aspect of managing your photos "Image Type" and "Marketing Terms".  The image type is a way to break down all the different types of images you may take like black and white, hdr, fine art, graphic design, etc etc).

Within these main categories you'll find many more nested topics.  Many you wonder "why is this here"?  Well as mentioned this hiarchy is based on how my own mind works and as such you may want to grab certain large sections and move them to somewhere else.    Another important thing to note is that you do not need to necessarily understand how I have things set up to still use this library.  If you simply type keywords that pop into your head within the Keywording input box in Lightroom, you will see that it will automatically add that word and all hierarchy/synonym keywords from the library.  The point being, don't look for a keyword in the list and then checkbox it (even I would not know where to find half the words).  Instead you just type the obvious keywords into the keyword input box and all the hard to think of words will automatically appear.  (That is where all the work I put in pays off).

Example Concepts:

  • Let's take "Who" for an example.  Most people would probably only use proper names within a "who" category, but to me "who" is the first thing you are going to ask when viewing any image (assuming there is someone in it), and that "who" question is not always a proper name (in most cases it won't be).  It may be a king, it may be a firefighter, it may be a model or an ethnic group.  These are still all examples of "who".  So I've broken "who" into sub-categories like "cultures and races", "professions", "genders", "age groups", "religions" etc etc.  (and of course "proper names").
  • "Where" is another category that most people would lump into proper names again.  But realistically when you ask "where"?  You come up with things like "a farm" or "the woods" or "the ocean" in addition to proper names like "The English Channel" or "Washington DC".  As such in my library you would first select from a more generalized "where" (for instance "forest"), then select from proper noun (for instance "Red Woods National Park").  Also note that due to the hierarchal structure that is already built in you would also automatically get "California, United States and North America" with that parks selection.
  • You will often find a word in multiple locations.  This is because many words have multiple meaning (for example "North" used as a location and "north" used as a direction).  Also you may find words in multiple locations due to synonym lists (for example you may find "sail boat" under   What>Nouns> Transportation >Boats>Sailboat   but also as a synonym under What>Verbs>Sports>Sailing>
    • this brings up another point.  I don't always use synonyms as "true" alternative words.  I use them as a way to automatically add words which will always be used in conjunction with another word (even though they do not have the same meaning).  For example  "Temple" contains the synonyms "religion, religious, temples".  Religion is not an actual synonym for temple at all, but for any image which is tagged "temple" you will almost certainly want "religion and religious" with it, since all temples tend to be religious in nature.
  • I have some upper level categories set to be included when sub-items are chosen, while other upper level category titles are not included if they were deemed as descriptive only to me or just too generic.

This library is far from perfect and would never make it as a marketed pro level item like those put out by controlledvocabulary.com   But then again they charge you $70 and mine is free.  So there.

Know Issues

  • There is some inconsistency with Capitalization.  Meaning some things which should be are not, and other things where are not, should be.  But with the new 3.X lightroom this is not longer anything other than a minor irritation as you can now have LR ignore capitalization in keywords (so Dog and dog are not considered two separate words).
  • Some words are clearly not in the right place, but since the library is not completed yet, they just have not yet found their "perfect hierarchic location" yet.

Questions and Answers

  • Why are there numbers in front of the main categories?  A: this was to force the order I wanted instead of Lightroom's default alphabetic order.
  • I don't like the way you structure stuff, but I still want all these words.  Can I modify this?  A: absolutely!  In lightroom you need only grab any keyword or group and move them to a new location in the library.  It's as easy as drag and drop.  In fact I encourage you to mix it up and make it your own so it makes the most sense to you.

If anyone has comments on problems they find (of which there may be many), or suggestions on how I can improve this libary (of which there surly are many more)...  please send me a note.

Your Instructor


My goal is always to teach WHY a technique works, not just HOW it's done. This is the fundamental difference between Big Sun training and most other photo courses who teach only by route. By learning the reasons behind the practice, you are able to move forward on your own, breaking away from the mundane and expanding your creativity.

 As with any service you should research what/whom you are investing in to ensure the right fit.

I encourage you to review my own work before signing up for any photography class.

Gene Tewksbury
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