After playing around with Lightroom you’ll grow familiar with its two faces: the first is that of a management & cataloging application (the Library module), the other is akin to an image editor (the Develop module). While I—and I’m sure I suffer from the same problem that afflicts most readers of this site—rarely have problems finding the time to adjust my images in the Develop module to make them look better, I almost always have problems finding the time to properly assign keywords and other metadata in the Library module. I’d like to think that it’s not my fault: humans are hard–wired to give priority to what we see (especially when we’re paying the bills with our sense of vision), and given the choice between looking at something and cataloging it, well… we both know which of the two options will be given priority.
Luckily, Lightroom can ease the burden in entering the same metadata information when importing your photos. In addition to initiating the development process when importing, you can also create metadata presets to save yourself from going back through your photos and appying the same metadata over and over again (Lightroom’s Sync tool can relieve some of the burden of having to apply the same metadata over and over to different photos).
When importing files from your card reader and/or camera, you’re prompted with the import dialog:
Although you might be eager to click the “Import” button as quickly as possible to add your photos to Lightroom’s library and start the editing process, having a little bit of patience here can save you some time in the long run.
Ken Milburn’s article “Building Your Lightroom Preset Library” touches upon how you can easily save the steps taken in developing a photo so that the same adjustments—whether it be adjusting the white balance, creating a sepia effect, or countless other possibilities—can be re–created later. These presets can also be applied to your shots while importing, thereby lumping the heavy–lifting into one step so that you can avoid having to interrupt your workflow with the same tedious steps.
As you can see in the screenshot above, I’ve created a Develop Preset named “FFWD – Blocks” (this preset is for a project I’m currently working on, and converts the incoming image to black & white, amps up the contrast, and slightly tweaks the tone curve). By selecting “New…” from the Metadata dropdown, I also created a Metadata Preset with the same name to apply common metadata to all of the images that will be imported. The details are displayed below:
Specifying as much metadata and development information before importing the photos allows you to provide it once and have it applied to all of the photos that are being imported to your library. The benefit is even more pronounced for those of us who happen to be running Lightroom on older hardware; although it might take a little bit longer to add the photos to the library, the time saved by avoiding having to root through your library and apply changes to each individual file is enormous.
Clicking the “Import” button will now add the photos to the library, apply all common metadata, and start them on their way down the development chute. The laundry isn’t totally taken care of (keywords and a few other pieces of metadata still need to be applied to each file and, of course, individual adjustments need to be made to each file) but Lightroom’s heavy–lifting can save you from having to do the whole cycle by hand.
Should you ever need to go back and update the common metadata that has already been applied, your preset is available from within the Metadata panel in the Library module (the same is true with the Develop Presets in the Develop module):
Now you have one less excuse to not keyword & categorize your images.