My Adobe Lightroom 4 Wish List

I was just reading the Adobe Lightroom 4 public beta preview over at I’ve been a Lightroom user for a few years now, and I’ve got a wish list for what I’d like to see in version 4.0:

1. Face recognition

Tagging people in photos is not just for stupid consumer-level users, nor is it a gimmick. I find it’s a powerful way to create online galleries for weddings & events, and easily tag people. Proper tagging allows someone to see all the photos of a person of interest in galleries that support it, and a process to do it for me would be great.

Right now you can get this done through a hack-up, mash-up job with Picasa, but it’d be nice to have it built in as a process I can let run overnight, that’s integrated with the product. And perhaps more reliable than Picasa, please.

What would also be killer is to be able to print a numbered contact sheet of the unknown faces that I can (e)mail to someone, to have them write the names of people down. That way, when I shoot an event where I don’t know people I can just give them the sheet and have them fill out who is who.

There is absolutely no mention of this in the reviews, and it’ll be a shame to not have it when their direct competitor, Apple, has it in Aperture.

2. Per-collection settings for online collections

I use Smugmug for It’s okay, though I really wish they had better themes for the sites (like one, just one, that’s both good looking and usable as a non-specialized album). I use the Smugmug connector in Lightroom, and I’d really like to have per-collection settings. Some collections I’d like to put the full resolution photos up there, as opposed to the 2000px size I normally upload. Some I’d like to not have keywords, like collections with kids & people doing things they probably don’t want Google to index. Some I’d like to have different copyright notices, or none at all. I can change the global settings temporarily for each one, and leave the older photos “as-is,” but it would be nice if I could permanently set them up with the right settings so they always stay that way.

3. More granular settings for stripping metadata

I’d like to be able to strip keywords separately from photo EXIF metadata. What I’d really love is to be able to have two keyword fields, so I can strip one and leave one. That way I could pull out all the tagged names and leave all the tagged places & EXIF, for instance.

4. Online collections tied to another collection (or integrated)

If I add a photo, or remove a photo, from a particular collection I’d like it to automatically add or remove it from the linked online collection. That way it won’t be as error-prone to manage the photo contents of online collections.


I want to remember where I am in a collection. Let me set a single bookmark so I can go out to another collection, find what I’m looking for, and jump right back. Right now I have to do this with colors or stars, and that’s increasingly hard as colors, stars, and flags have other meanings.

6. Places & Geotagging

Let me specify where these photos were taken, or, increasingly, work with the location data in the photos already. Let me use it, work with it, and upload that data to services. I’d also like the ability to have everything in a certain geographic area to carry a particular tag, too. Or even the option to have photos pick up the name of the geographically nearest town over some configurable size (like 5,000 people).

That’d be great, because I am increasingly trying to find “that” photo. You know, the one taken in New Orleans, in the Lower Garden district, with my friend and his crazy cousin. No, not the last trip, I think it was three trips ago. Or maybe it wasn’t his cousin, no, that’s right, his cousin couldn’t make it. It was that guy that jumped off balconies into the pool. What was his name?

I’d love to say “His name is Adriano, it was February of 2008, here’s the photo.”

It looks like there’s some support for geotagging in the beta, I will need to play with it.

7. 100% atomic catalogs

There are certain things, like online connector settings and watermarks, that exist outside of catalogs. Right now, when I go on the road and take a copy of a catalog with me on my laptop, I end up screwed in some way. The online connectors don’t mesh up and the URLs I give people while at a conference end up changing when I get home. Or, the copyright watermark isn’t on my laptop and I have to figure out how it looked, again. It also means my catalog backups are inherently incomplete because they won’t have all that data in them. Please, please, please — if you can set it up for a catalog or a photo in a catalog make the settings part of the catalog, and store the files with the photos so I can back the whole thing up together.

8. Stay focused on local, not the cloud

Cloud is neat, but photographers with hundreds of thousands of photos are not going to back them up into the cloud anytime soon. The pricing & bandwidth just isn’t there yet.

9. Built-in HDR processing

While high dynamic range photography is sort of a crutch for many people, it’s also becoming increasingly popular among professionals as a way to get more interesting photos. It would be nice if Lightroom had internal features to process these types of photos, so I wouldn’t have to extend my workflow out to a third-party tool.

10. Built-in panorama processing

I use Kolor’s Autopano Pro to create panoramic photographs. It’s wonderful, but it means I need to export the images from Lightroom, run them through Autopano, and then re-import the finished results so I can manage it with the rest of the photos. It’d be very cool if there was a way to do that, built right into the software.


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  • I believe you’re thinking of a photo from August 2005 of Adriano jumping from the balcony…

    I’ve been playing with Jeffrey Friedl’s “Metadata Wrangler” ( for stripping headers I don’t want from the exported images. Works much better in version 3 than it did on version 2.

    A great list that I agree with, although you missed a very important one for me: books. From iPhoto and Aperture it is so easy to create a beautiful book (which we do all the time in iPhoto — after exporting picks from Lightroom).. I believe Adobe’s response has been, “use inDesign” .. Which is crap.


    • Books are actually part of 4.0 now.

      Metadata wrangler is nice, but it still doesn’t help when I want to wrangle at the collection level, not at the service level.