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Names and Roles in Wedding Photography - Part 1

How to identify them, facial-tag them, and increase your wedding photo sales

With the advent of Lightroom 6, the workflow required to identify people suddenly got a lot easier for wedding photographers. Why? Because Lightroom 6 and Lightroom CC now include facial recognition abilities, which will reduce the time taken keywording your images, and thus building a workable catalog to show your customers. My previous tutorial 'Lightroom 6 Facial Recognition Tutorial' shows you how.

Why bother? Every wedding photographer is used to these questions: "Have you got a photo of the best man with the matron of honor?" "How many photos do you have of the bride's mother?" "I'd like to buy all the photos you have with the Flower Girls in them." With the advent of Lightroom 6, answering these questions suddenly became a lot easier.

Here's how it works: you import a catalog of images from the wedding you have just been shooting, and let Lightroom index the images to identify which ones contain people. Once the indexing has finished, you tell Lightroom who is who, and let Lightroom tie this information to a hierarchical list. You will then be able to search your entire catalog by name: Tom, Dick, Claire, or by function: Bride, Groom, Matron of Honor, and quickly retrieve the images that your customers are waiting for. Using the new Lightroom 6 facial recognition facilities, you only need to identify who is who one time, and let Lightroom 6 do the rest of the keywording for you.

Getting Started

To make life easy for yourself, we first need to create a keyword hierarchy that the people we are about to recognise can be tied to. This will provide a role plus a name for the person rather than just a name. Rather than add people keywords to your existing master keyword list, I would suggest that you add a 'disposable' section that can be used for one wedding, and then deleted afterwards, or saved for archival purposes. I have created a list designed for this purpose, and its hierarchy makes it easy to locate or add new people keywords to tagged images in a couple of clicks.

The list is incorporated in my new 'Wedding Guest List' program, which adds names to roles then exports a list that Lightroom can use straight away. Of course you could do the same thing by hand, but a program designed to constantly error-check the formatting and layout makes this task trivial. The screenshot aboves shows it in action. A Guest List has been loaded or created in the left panel, then each entry is moved to the relevant position on the Guest Tree, which provides a visual representation of the hierarchical list.

The task is nearly completed, as the last few names are moved to the tree. The list can be sorted at any time or new names added. The tree is automatically sorted.

Wedding Tagging for Real

On the Wedding Day - Take a set of indivdual snap-shots of the main wedding 'people', and record their names and their role in the wedding: bride, groom, father of the bride, best man, etc. The easiest way to do this is to use your phone with a suitable 'Voice Recorder' app, (there are many), or, the preferred method, a dedicated Digital Voice Recorder, such as those made by Olympus, Sony, or Philips.

After the Wedding - Import your photos to Lightroom in the usual way. You'll probably want to automatically embed certain key items of metadata during the import process: your contact information, copyright, location details, etc. Click 'View > People' to turn on facial-recognition. Lightroom makes a guess at similar people in the photos, and puts a question-mark underneath each one - it doesn't know who is who as yet.

We now add the prepared keyword list by clicking 'Metadata > Import keywords', then convert these newly imported keywords into 'People Keywords' by right clicking on the line '[7-01 WEDDING]' and selecting 'Convert Keywords to Person Keywords'.

Now comes the easy part - adding the names and the roles to the faces. Select one of the headshots in the 'People View', then click-and-drag a name from the Keyword List on to the question-mark beneath the headshot.

During the process, Lightroom may decide that another headshot is possibly the same as one already identified. In this screenshot, we see that one of the headshots in the 'Unnamed People' section has the phrase 'Adam Browne ?' beneath it. Click the check-mark and that headshot will be added to the others already tagged with that name.

The name will be added to that person's headshot, and it will be moved to the 'Named People' section. If there are two headshots that are obviously the same person, click to select the first one, then hold down the 'Control' key and click on the second one. Click-and-drag a name to either of the headshots and those headshots will be named, combined, and moved to the 'Named People' section.

Task completed, and we can view the photos in the 'Loupe' view, or search for them as 'People' in a couple of clicks.

Click to visit Part Two of this tutorial.

Note: the names used for the people in the photos in this article are imaginary.

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