Improve Your Productivity With Labels

I included this topic in the Guide to Adobe Bridge: Organizing a while back (has it really been over a year?), but I wanted to mention it again. This quick little tip is aimed directly at the users of Adobe Bridge and/or Adobe Lightroom, though it may apply to other photo organization software as well.

Sometimes we get busy with things and the photo archive keeps filling up. If you don’t have time to process all your photos immediately, you should at least label the photos and/or their containing folders rather than try to remember which photos have been processed. Simply adding a color-coded label to my folders and photos has saved me a ton of time by eliminating the need to sift through thousands of photos each time I want to process a few.

Folder Labels

As soon as I create a new folder in the archive, it gets a red label (that’s my “To Do” color). As I start to work on photos in that folder, I’ll change it to yellow (“In Process”). And when I’m done, I’ll change it to green (“Complete”). These labels at the folder level keep me on track and tell me which sets of photos are being worked on or still need work. As you can see in the image above, there’s no guessing at what needs to be done next.

Photo Labels

I do the same type of labeling system with my photos — red, yellow, green. One of the first things I do after importing is apply red labels. These are the photos that I’ll consider for processing at some later date, usually 1/4 to 1/3 of the full set. Now, using your label filters, you can weed out the junk and focus on the good stuff. After a photo has been processed and exported, I’ll apply a green label so I don’t have to keep looking at it while processing the unfinished photos. This method also gives you a sense of accomplishment as you watch the red counter go down and the green counter go up over in the filter panel.

What do you use to keep track of your unfinished and finished photos as they stack up in the archive? Labels, tags, stars, folders, something else? Everybody seems to have a different way of handling these things, so I’m curious what’s working and not working for others.

9 thoughts on “Improve Your Productivity With Labels

  1. Andrew M

    Hey Brian,

    loving the idea of color coding that I would almost consider switching from Lightroom to Bridge to be able to do this in my processing workflow, as I’ve not found an easy way of color labelling an entire folder in Lightroom yet…

    Currently I use Collections for my import/in progress/completed folders, which doesn’t work very well admittedly…

    Might give Bridge a go…



  2. Andrew M

    Hmm… scratch previous comment – forgot about filtering… time to play with colors in Lightroom a bit more… thanks for the inspiration to look at this!



  3. JasonP

    I use colors a lot in Lightroom, but to keep like sets/sequences of photos together. For example, a time lapse sequence of 5 shots of the night sky will get a color, the next composition sequence will get the next. The same for focus-bracketing (macro shots), Exposure Bracketing, or maybe a burst of photos in a sequence that I want to have a quick visual of the group.

    For folders I haven’t processed… no amount of labeling is going to help with that. I have hundreds! Generally though, I just work my way through a folder at a time, remembering which one I’m working on as the new ones pile up ;)

  4. bee

    Somehow I not yet found my way to Bridge. I use the Windows Explorer and Picasa… but now I’ll try Bridge again, this idea using colors simply is great.

  5. Vlad

    I keep a Transfer folder where I put all my pictures from the camera. The folders are simply named by the date of the pictures. I keep them there until I’m able to work on them and figure out where they should go. Once I figure out what I want to do with pictures from a folder in the Transfer folder, I rename the folder to date-place-event_description and then move it to “permanent” folder structure.

    I wish I could use Lightroom but in the meantime I might add words in the folder name to indicate PROGRESS for the images I’m working on. This seems like a good idea.

  6. Bajki dla Dzieci

    I love ideas like this. I’ll finaly get it in order. In the long term it may save me couple hours but I’ll probably spend couple days labeling everything. Still I like doing stuff like that.

  7. Graham Gallagher

    Thanks for a brilliant tip, I have re-organised my images in “pending projects”, so I know what I have to do. Doing it this way is a far more organised way to store images – again thanks.

    Graham Gallagher

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>