LR013 - KEYWORDS for People

December 13, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

KEYWORDS for people

In LR there are many ways to do the same thing, each with pros and cons.  Some make more sense to some people and other methods make more sense to other people.  Here is what makes sense to me and what I use.

Note:  As of version 6, (and CC 2015), LR offers a “face recognition” feature.   I’ll talk more about that in another chapter but for now just be aware that when you use LR’s Face Recognition tools the end result is a Keyword for each person you care about.  Prior to LR6, this was a manual process.  The changes brought in with LR6 is that LR itself helps find faces in images and suggests who each person is through face recognition programming.  A second and related change is that historically keywords have applied to an entire image, but as of LR6 a keyword that is designated as a “person” type keyword (i.e. someone’s name) can pertain to a portion of an image (i.e. a persons face) rather than the whole image.  But, however you do it, either with our without using the Face Recognition tools in LR, the net result is that there are keywords that represent people.  And that’s what this chapter is about.

Note:  In my examples I am using first names only to keep things simple, however I strongly recommend that you use full names with dashes or underscores between first and last name because at some point you’re going to have duplicate first names among all the people you’ll be adding.  By following the example (note check boxes), I can search for “Fred-Green” and get only that one person rather than all the Fred’s and/or all the Green’s including the Greenbaum’s


The problem

At some point in time you will have so many images of people you know that you start having trouble finding them when you want to.  Usually this happens with photos of family members and close friends but can be extended to co workers, and famous people you encounter (e.g., My “Selfie with Superman”). 

What is typically desired is a not too complicated way to be able to find photos that have specific people in them and even better specific combinations of people.  For example, find all the photos that have BOTH Fred and Betty in them, have ONLY Fred and Betty or any other combination or people.

Concept of the solution

The key to this problem utilizes keywords and smart collections and is really quite simple once you get the concept.  What we’ll do is create a keyword for each person we want to track by name.  These keywords of individual people may be nested into groups such as Family, Co-worker, Politician, Performer, etc.  We start by creating a high level KW called “People” and then under that one create a KW for each group and under those, KW’s for each individual.  So it might look like this screen shot in LR.



Assigning the Keywords

This is not as difficult as it might seem, even if you have, literally, thousands of images.  Perhaps you even have some prior keywords set up (like one keyword for each combination of people) to help you zero in on the photos you want.  Or, you can use LR’s Face Recognition tool (as of LR6) to help find them.  If you’re doing this manually, create the list of keywords ending with one keyword per person in the usual manner.  Then, using the Grid view in the Library module, simply click, shift click or Ctrl (Option on Mac) click to select on all the images that contain a certain person and assign that persons keyword to those images.  Then go on to the 2nd person, etc.  In this way, if you have an image with 3 people, it will get 3 keywords – one for each person.

Finding images

Once your images with people have been assigned keywords (with or without face recognition) you can use filters or smart collections to quickly retrieve images of the people you’re looking for.

Find all images that have a certain person

This is the easiest.  Just open your filter bar (“\” speed key).  Select Text, Keywords Contain, and the name of the person.  Here’s an example.  As soon as you finish typing the persons name those images will show up in your grid


You could also just click the right facing arrow to the right of the name “Alice” in the Keyword list.  This will create a metadata filter (rather than a text filter) and will accomplish the same thing as shown below.


Find images that have 2 or more specific people

The process here is the same, except you use 2 of the keywords.  For the text filter use “Contain” to get images that have ANY of the named people.  In the example below, images that have either Alice or Cher or both are found.


Use “Contain All” to get images that have ALL the named people.  In the example below an image must have both Alice and Cher to be shown.


Find images that have specific people but not others
(Exclusion list method)

For this we will create a Smart Collection.  As a reminder, a Smart Collection is a group of images that meet the criteria set forth in a set of rules.  You create the set of rules then LR automatically keeps the collection populated with the images that meet that set of rules.

For our smart collection, we will build a set of rules that will specify what grouping of keywords we’re interested in (e.g., the “MyFamilyKWList” grouping) and then we’ll set up one rule for each person in the family such that we can mix and match which family members we want to be in the images and which we don’t.

First we set up the basic collection and save it.  Then each time we have a need for it, we’ll do a simple modification to tweak it for that particular need.

Here’s the initial set up


When you save it, there will be no images in the Smart Collection as we’ve excluded every person in our family by name.

Now let’s say we want images of Bob all by himself - without any of the other family members also being in the photos.  We “edit” the Smart Collection and just change “doesn’t contain” to “Contains” on the bob line and that’s it.  Now we see photos with Bob but only if no other family member is in there too. 

Now, let’s say we want images that have just Bob and Doug without any of the others.  To do this we change the operator on both the Bob and the Doug line to “Contains”. 

As you can see, just by simply changing the operator on one or more lines we can mix and match any combination of people.  Once we adjust the filter and save it and see the images it comes up with, we can add additional filters as well.  For example, we could add a text filter for “Zoo” which would further refine the selection to only shots that also have the KW “Zoo” on them.

So, not too complicated and pretty flexible once you get it set up.

Find images that have specific people but not others
(Keyword Move method)

The first method I described above works quite well if you only have a handful of people in your PEOPLE structure.  But it requires that you maintain a full list of all your “people” in the Smart Collection which can be cumbersome. 
So, here’s an alternative.

As suggested before, all of your keywords that are names of people descend from a common “PEOPLE” master keyword.

As in the prior method, this one too involves a Smart Collection.  However in this method we don’t have to maintain a full list of all the people we know about and don’t always have to change the smart collection each time we want to select a different set of folks.  Instead we create a dummy keyword at the same level as “PEOPLE” but with screwy spelling.  I want it to sort just above PEOPLE but not have the word “People” in it.  So, for example I could use “PEOPL-X”. 

Now Create a Smart Collection called something Like “People Exclusive”.  This Smart Collection only has two rules as shown below.



This Smart Collection will select for any of the people in the PEOPL-X structure as long as no other people from the PEOPLE structure are also in the photo.  Just drag the keywords for the people you want up to the “PEOPL-X” parent and then use the smart collection.  In the case shown, I will get all the images that have EITHER Alice of Gina in them but no one else.


But, this still doesn’t solve the problem where you want only images that have BOTH Alice and Gina in them, but no one else.

To solve this we will have to modify the smart collection for each case.  To do this, in addition to dragging the keywords of the desired people to the PEOPL-X parent, we also need to add each of the selected people into the Smart Collection.  But, I hear you say that this is no different than the first method.  Well, yes it is because the list of people you want is usually significantly shorter than the full list of people you have named and you don’t have to keep the full list of names in the Smart Collection as you add more keywords for people. 

The modification to the Smart Collect is to simply add the names of the people you want to the first rule.  By the way, you only need to type as much of the name as is needed to make it unique.  For example if you have keywords for Alice-Jones and Alice-Green, but in this case you want Alice-Green you only have to type “Alice-G” in the smart collection.


Now, in this example, we’ll get images that have BOTH Alice and Gina but no one else.





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