27 Apr 2015

Tagging people in Lightroom CC (also Lightroom 6) - some tips

The newest version of Lightroom CC (Lightroom 6) comes with a number of new features. One of them is the automatic face recognition which enables tagging people on the photos. To me it is a very welcome enhancement of Lightroom since it makes possible to keep the records of photographed people in an easy way.
Last week I let Lightroom scan for the faces in my main catalog. It turned to be a long process. Granted, my main catalog contains over 80000 photos, so a number of faces there is substantial (more than 38000 and counting). And the process of finding faces runs for almost 4 days over all photos.

Finding faces is one thing, putting the names behind them is something else. The algorithms applied in Lightroom do the job quite well and after some time and tagging several names, the application starts recognizing similar faces. But the algorithm is not perfect and I have experienced quite some "missers" (faces that were recognized incorrectly).

So to speed up the whole process a bit I have developed simple workflow that is based on structural elimination of the photos scanned by Lightroom and  use of keyboard shortcuts.

Step number one: eliminate photos of unknown or people you are not interesting in

When looking for people, Lightroom tries to automatically attach the names to them based on the information gathered so far. If it cannot find any similar person the name is left empty and there is a '?' sign below the photo to indicate it. If the name is attached, Lightroom asks the user for confirmation, by displaying for each thumbnail the check- or cancel- mark for confirmation or cancelation, respectively. When the name suggested by Lightroom is wrong one can discard it or remove the particular thumbnail completely from the further analysis. By discarding the wrong name, the faces are returned back to the analysis and Lightroom tries to attach another name to them.
In case of the photos of unknown or unwanted people it is useful to remove them from further processing. So when I have a screen full of thumbnails, I first select all the photos I don't want to process further. Then I simply press Delete key. They are removed from the grid and are not processed by Lightroom. By repeating this step consecutively, the grid will be gradually filled with the faces I want to add to my database.

Step number two: Select the faces belonging to the same person, tag them in one step

Now I select all the faces that belong to the same person. Usual way of selecting is applicable here: by holding Shift and clicking on the thumbnails for continuous photos in the grid or by pressing Ctrl (Command) key and clicking on a single photo. It does not matter how the Lightroom categorized the face: with a guessed name or with a question mark. Once the photos are selected, I press the Shift-O key to edit the name I want to tag the faces with. This name will be applied to all selected photos.

Step number three: Repeat steps one and two until you are done

Some other tips

I have noticed that for large grids Lightroom has some troubles with rendering them, which slows the process down. So it is better to navigate somewhere to the smaller structure in the catalog (a collection, collection set or directory). If such set contains no more than couple of thousands faces, Lightroom renders them smooth.

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