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How do you use star rating and labels? #1
Patrick Vijgeboom's picture
by Patrick Vijgeboom
April 11, 2012 - 9:36pm


I am looking how I can rate my photos for better organizing and searching. I am very curious how you use rating and labels for your photo's
Maybe this information helps my to figure out what works best for me.

PhotoJoseph's picture
by PhotoJoseph
April 11, 2012 - 9:45pm


Great question, and I look forward to hearing what other users do.

Here’s my routine…

1) I’ll go through every photo giving it either a two-star, or nothing (or reject if it’s blatantly bad, i.e. out of focus)

2) I’ll go through two star photos and up-rate or down-rate or leave alone, now that I’ve seen them all.

3) If I have enough images at three-stars that I need for whatever it is I need, I’m done. If not, then I’ll repeat step 2, but starting with three-star images.

4) Five stars are reserved for super special photos

This method means that I can go to any project or album, filter by three-star or better (control-3), and know that I’m looking only at photo that I really like. If I need more or fewer for whatever I’m looking for, I’ll adjust the filter. If I still need more precision, I’ll give it another ratings pass, rating up or down or leaving alone.

Flagging is just for temporary use; a quick way to “tag” a photo for something immediate.

I rarely use labels, but usually when I do it’s to separate big blocks of photos, like from different photographers (second shooter on a job, for example)

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Scott Davenport's picture
by Scott Davenport
April 11, 2012 - 10:12pm

I use all 5 stars in my rating system. In short:

1-star: Flagged for rejection.
2-star: A shot I want to keep, but isn’t all that great. Perhaps something I want to experiment with in terms of post-processing. Or an uninspiring photo for which I don’t have another good shot. Example: A child receives an award, the lighting is lousy, and I’m shooting through a crowd. It has sentimental value, but is otherwise uninspiring.
3-star: A good shot. Something I certainly want to perform Adjustments on.
4-star: Something I want to share. These are shots I post to the web and sync to my iPad to share with others.
5-star: A fantastic photo, something I want to print. Few photos get 5 stars.

And I’m with Joseph on rejecting photos that are blatantly bad - out of focus, subject is blinking, and so forth.

I also happen to use labels as a notation for where a given photo is within my workflow. And I keyword liberally. Keep in mind I’m a hobbyist, so like have less photos and more time on my hands than folks shooting day in and day out. :)

Gory details:

Patrick Vijgeboom's picture
by Patrick Vijgeboom
April 12, 2012 - 7:21am

Thank you for all the helpfull great replies so far. I was thinking about the following rating for my organization:

1 star  : marked for deletion
2 stars : keep the photo without adjustments
3 stars : keep the photo with adjustments
4 stars : good photo for sharing
5 stars : stock/production photo

PhotoJoseph's picture
by PhotoJoseph
April 12, 2012 - 5:40pm

Derrick Story just posted an article on his blog on this topic: Flags, Stars, and Color Labels in Aperture and Lightroom.


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David  Moore's picture
by David Moore
April 13, 2012 - 1:25am

Hey all,

I star
These are for keepers that I need to work on in PS. I do a lot of shots where I combine layers. I then export those as 16bit files and combine them into one shot and rename it.

2 stars
If I have a single image that is a hero and needs working it gets 2 stars

3 stars
When I import back into aperture the Combined newly named images are then tagged 3 stars on import.

4 Stars are for my over all very best

5 Stars are for a temporary marking or I might use a color label

I really haven’t taken advantage of flags or labels except while editing with a client. rare!
Twitter= @davidbmoore
Scottsdale AZ

Dr.Bob's picture
by Dr.Bob
April 13, 2012 - 2:04pm

After shooting a go trough al the photo, rejecting out of focus and blatantly bad, then every photo left get’s one star. Thereafter I go trough them and rate two stars, go trough the two stars and rate three stars etc. The stars basically mean the following.

1 star: Not a great photo but has some sort of emotional value; hidden from normal viewing
2 stars: Normally visible not terribly good
3 stars: Photo’s I’d like to share in a photo book, with my family or similar
4 stars: Good photo’s e.g. fort portfolio.
5 stars: National Geographic.

Flag are used as a temporary tag. Labels have some meanings as well:

green: No PP already performed
yellow through red: increasing amount of PP needed
grey: Convert to B&W
blue: Order prints
purple: placed in an Adobe InDesign Document (for which I created an Applescript so I can assign labels from within InDesign)

Nick Nieto's picture
by Nick Nieto
April 20, 2012 - 6:07pm

For me I try to keep my starring workflow really simple:

After I’ve uploaded my images to a new project - I go through and give photos a 1 star if I like them and think they are worth keeping as potential work images. Then I create a smart album for 1 star and above images inside of the project. This is where I work edits from.

I then go through a second time of all the 1 star images and give 3 stars to all of the ones I’m going to edit.

After doing edits I then go back through those and pick my favorites and give them 5 stars. These are ones I’m happy with and feel ok enough to share with people either online or through other mediums. / Portland, Oregon

Butch Miller's picture
by Butch Miller
April 13, 2012 - 8:30pm

I use star ratings to rank images and color labels to assist grouping images in manual metadata searches … and a combination of the two to create Smart Albums/Smart Collections)

Stars -

0) No Star = Image is destined for deletion upon completion of the job .. image is of no marketable or sentimental value.

1) One Star = Image has redeemable value and will be kept. Image will receive preliminary basic processing (think batch sync of like images)

2) Two Stars = Image has significant market value and will be processed as either a client proof or open online event sales.

3) Three Stars = Image has been ordered by a client and has received whatever processing is necessary for the desired output.

4) Four Stars = Exceptional image that is a probable selection for publishing as part of current portfolio.

5) Five Star = Extremely exceptional image worthy of jaw-dropping response of the average viewer (these are VERY few in number and this rating is the rare exception as to maintain the worthiness of the rating)

Color Labels - (note that the colors used have no particular meaning or reasoning … they were selected arbitrarily by me)

Red - Images that have been selected as potentially worthy of further than normal processing for artistic use.

Blue - Collection of images worthy of inclusion as part of my display portfolio online, mobile devices or my studio front window display in 15” digital frames.

Green - Collection of images that have been published in newspapers or magazines.

So a smart album that has the criteria of 3 stars and a green color label will offer up my images published in newspapers and magazines … without invoking any keywords or other metadata.

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