All Hail The Lightroom Savior

It seems I always root for the underdog – technologically speaking. My favourite program that Microsoft puts out is OneNote, probably the least well known of all their programs. OneNote is a program that lets you keep notes and collate information into a digital binder.

For me, with the Adobe apps, I’ve always loved Lightroom. Again, not well known outside the photographer industry. It’s like Photoshop-lite in a way, because there are many photographic adjustments you can do, similar to Photoshop. But it’s the organiser part that really gets me excited. Collections, Smart Collections, tagging, keywording, metadata, ratings, flags, ratings based on flags, flags based on ratings, Smart Collections based on all of these, some of these, or just one of things. This is really what I get nerdy about.

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Maybe it’s not the underdog of these two that appeals. Maybe it’s the organisation. Digitally, I’m quite particular about how things are organised on my computer and my devices. I take a lot of pains for everything to be just so (“Nothing like in real life then!” – Wife), so it’s probably the organisational nature of these apps that appeal so much.

Ok, so we’ve established I know, and love, and use Lightroom a lot. My epiphany happened as I was looking through photos the classes had done. It suddenly struck me, these pictures should be tagged and collated in Lightroom. Tag them with their names, class name, year level, project name, app name. So for example, one photo might have several tags – John Doe, Jane Doe, 3A, Grade 3, Lower Thirds, Photoshop.

I can then create Smart Collections based on these tags. So a Smart Collection with the tag 3A will show up all the work done from 3A. A Smart Collection with the tag Lower Thirds will show all students work, regardless of grade level or class, that has done a Lower Third.

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The problem I had was I wanted to import the entire school database – that’s every child’s name – into Lightroom. Usually with keywords you type them in like this “John Doe, Photoshop” but the best the office could give me was a CSV file in Excel that had the students names in columns. I managed to merge cells, copy and paste into a text document, until I had all names in, but it wasn’t easy. Now when I start tagging a photo and start typing a name, it will come up because it was in the Lightroom database.

Why go to all this trouble? Well, when it comes time to write reports, I can just look up a student’s name, and whether it’s a photo or a video, it will come filter the entire catalog with just their work. Brilliant! It’s the digital version of going through workbooks and finding the students’ work to assess. Love it.

I’ve also started a section in the school newsletter called Media Arts Student of the Week. So, when I go through the week’s work, I’ll 5-star any worthy recipients, and look at it that way.

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So, it took a long while to set up, and it takes a while to do it each week and tag all the work, but it will definitely have benefits in the long run.

All hail Lightroom – the ultimate classroom management tool for Media Arts teachers!

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