Labels are truly useful when organizing your photos, as you can assign them whatever meaning you wish. Generally, flags and numbered systems are set up for rating your images. This is not the case with colored labels. This means you can use them for whatever method you choose. Perhaps you have green labels for landscapes or trees, blue for skies. It’s totally up to you.

Why use colored labels?

Regardless of what program I am using — Lightroom Classic, Capture One, etc. — I often rate my images after import. I use five stars for my favorites, down to three or four. If something is lower than a three star, I usually don’t import it in the first place.

I can then add different colored labels as well as ratings. I often have green signify a “finished edit” and red signifying when an image might need some additional work in Photoshop. And yellow for trying different edits out.

Rating and color labels in Lightroom Classic
Ratings and color labels in Lightroom Classic

How to use labels

There are often five different color labels (though Capture One 22 has seven colors). To apply a label, right-click on your image and add set color label (Lightroom Classic) or tag color (Capture One). You can also use keyboard shortcuts to signify which label you want to apply.

You can use a variety of colored labels and ratings within the same folder. You can then use these along with other rating methods in sorting and filtering, in order to work with the photos you choose.

Why rate or even label your photos?

This is not a necessary part of the editing process, but I find it can be a valuable tool in the culling process — especially if I have a large number of photos to review. Rating them and then in turn using a colored labeling system means I can filter and view only the images I wish to work on at any given time.

Select the images you wish to work on with ratings and labels
Select the images you wish to work on with ratings and labels

Sorting labels

Just above the filmstrip in Lightroom Classic, you will find the Filter Bar. You can select the number rating and/or the color label here. You will then only see the image with that color label and any rating you set. You can choose several different color labels at once.

The Filter panel
The Filter panel

So next time you bring your images into Lightroom Classic, Capture One or various other programs, try doing a quick cull by rating your images. Then take it a step further by adding colored labels. I’m sure you’ll find why many of us find why labels are truly useful when organizing your photos.