Simple, Yet Smart ‘Color Labels’ Idea From One of My Readers

Traffic lights

After taking my survey yesterday, Andy Ramsay, posted a comment with the very simple, clever, and effective way he uses Color Labels in Lightroom. Here’s what he wrote:

“I use traffic-light-style colour labels to identify ‘Needs Work in Photoshop’ [Red], ‘Been worked in Photoshop, Needs final LR adjustments’ [Amber], and ‘Ready for Release’ [Green]. …My portfolio smart collection is built to only use photos that are coloured Green and tagged ‘portfolio’.”

This is the type of stuff we all tend to over-think. Love the simplicity. Thanks for sharing that, Andy (and I thought some of you might find it useful). 🙂





  1. Nicholas Pappagallo 5 January, 2015 at 20:03 Reply

    its a KISS approach I have been teaching that in my lightroom workshops from the beginning – I recently added on Blue as a color outside of the traffic light as posted for sale on my website.

  2. Michael 29 December, 2014 at 08:40 Reply

    I use color labels the same way Carsten does except I don’t use a green label for finished photos.

    Red = Newly imported photos with not tagging/adjustments. After tagging (title, caption, keywords) the color is replaced by yellow.

    Yellow = Potos are tagged but not edited yet. After editing the color yellow is removed.

    I use these two colors in addition with a set of Smart Collections which show me
    – Photos without copyright
    – Photos withour creator
    – Photos without keywords
    and so on


  3. Joe S 23 December, 2014 at 10:35 Reply

    I also use color labels. I will admit not as creatively as most here do. Mine is very simple. My wife and both shoot on jobs when I import photos I assign Red to my self and Green to my wife. I told you it would not be exciting.

  4. Agnes 21 December, 2014 at 21:03 Reply

    Same here, although I use colors all the way to blue. Red = freshly imported, Yellow = has been sorted out/tagged, Green = worth editing (big cull through the reject flag from yellow to green), Blue = edited and ready for publication. The lack of an easy keyboard shortcut for purple means I didn’t try to find a use for it. Like Carsten being able to glance at a collection and see where each picture is at is essential.

    I had high hopes for Mobile (doing some of the boring sorting/tagging during dead time on my iPhone, yeah!) until I realized colors were not available. Since they are central to my workflow I will have to wait until it gets in there.

  5. James Mullins 21 December, 2014 at 12:01 Reply

    I find the color labels useful for designating photographs that are part of a focus stacking or HDR sets, and the finished products from those processes. It provides a ready, easy visual identification.

  6. jack 20 December, 2014 at 20:49 Reply

    I use labels to keep track of what agencies and organizations I send photos to. I’m a photojournalist and I send photos to a couple of agencies and organizations. Each is assigned a color label and I can tell at a glance where a picture is.

  7. Carsten 20 December, 2014 at 04:53 Reply

    I also use the “traffic lights” for my workflow, though a bit different:
    – freshly imported photos receive a red label
    – once metadata (like keywords etc.) and rating (stars) are added, the label will be changed to yellow
    – after they have been edited in either LR or PS they finally receive the green label

    This way it’s very easy to see the status of each picture at a glance.

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