Adobe Bridge – Get the most out of your inspiration shopping trips

How Fashion Designers Use Adobe Bridge

Designers have the best jobs in the world. We actually get paid to shop! But it’s not all fun and games. We are expected to regularly shop the market to stay on top of trends and what our competition is up to.

Most of the time when we go out on these excursions we have an objective in mind. For example, we want to see what new merchandise has hit the floor for the new season. Or maybe it’s more specific. Like, see what silhouettes are trending in the missy woven market this spring.

The problem is we don’t always remember that wonderful item we saw in that shop last year that gave us that great idea. We tend to shop with a purpose in mind. And if that great item we pass on the shelf doesn’t fit into our mission it is forgotten.

Fashion Designers Must Shop The Market

In the old school days before camera phones we would be forced to take a mental picture of something in a store, run outside, and sketch it really quickly (stores did not let you sketch inside). Hence the need to be really good at quick sketching that actually showed great detail. I have so many notepads full of scribble that I still refer to! The problem with sketching on notepads is that there is no order to your work. You go from a collar detail to a skirt shape to maybe a closure detail on a pant. So even if you did want to skim back through your notepads later you can’t remember what sketch was in what pad.

Today we are armed with our smart phones to snap away when the sales clerks aren’t looking.  This is a million times better! However, if you are like most designers, you get back to your office and you download all of the wonderful images into a folder marked “Miami Shopping Trip” or something like that. This might serve you well enough for the present season you are working on. But hold onto your seats! There is even a better way.

How Designers Can Get The Most Out Of Their Shopping Trips

This trick I actually stole from my friends in the marketing department who do photo shoots all the time. They use a program called Adobe Bridge to sort all their photos and attach metadata to them. This is an extra step that will take you maybe 30 minutes depending on how many pictures you have taken. But it’s super easy and I promise you it will change your life!

Getting Started With Adobe Bridge

Before you get started you do need to have an Adobe Creative Cloud account. I personally use Adobe PhotoShop and Adobe Illustrator, and Adobe Bridge is free. I pay $43 per month. However, if you click on the links you can start with one app for as little as $9 month.

First, drop in your photos to a folder on your computer the way you always do. Open Adobe Bridge. The main screen on Bridge is separated into three sections. On the left hand side you will be able to navigate to your folder. All of your photos will be in thumbnail form on the center section of your screen. Below is a screen shot of a folder I have of trims. Yes. I take photos of hangtags and main labels and other interesting trims I see. 😉

Adobe Bridge main screen

When you click on a photo, over to the right hand side you will see a tab called keywords. Here you can add metadata to your photos that will help you sort and search for them later. Think of this metadata as just information about the photo that you will want such as: when the photo was taken (you can use the season if it helps), what store it was taken in, or the brand. I also like to add keywords that describe the type of garment or the detail such as “baseball jackets” or “collars” or “pockets”.
Adobe Bridge Keywords

To add this meta data click on the keywords tab next to metadata. Adobe Bridge comes with some default keywords like “events”, “people”, and “places”. To create a new keyword right click and choose “New Keyword”. You can even make sub-keywords, which is very helpful. Go through each photo adding the keywords necessary. Fortunately if you use an iPhone it already geo-tags your photos and puts a date stamp on it, so this information should already come up. However, I have found that later on I may want to search for all photos by a particular brand or a particular store. It may take you a bit to find the keywords that are best for you, but you can always go back and add more information.

Once you are done go over to the left hand side of the screen and click on the filter tab. Open keywords. You will see all the keywords you created. Now you can check on or off the keywords that you want to filter with. Your photos will start to filter based on the keywords you have turned on.

Adobe Bridge Filter

That is it! It is that simple. Now when you are having a mental block and are looking for inspiration you can go into your folder and do a quick search for “embroideries” or whatever else tickles your fancy.

Quick Tip:

To be able to search previous history all photos have to be in the same folder. I highly recommend after a trip adding your new pictures to a separate folder, adding all the metadata, and then copy/  paste those photos into your master photo stream.

Dis you find this trick helpful? I would love to heard from you on how it worked for you. Or if you have any other ideas I would love to hear about them too. Please feel free to drop me a line. Cheers!

Action Steps

  1. Sign up for an Adobe Creative Cloud Account.
  2. Watch tutorials on Adobe Bridge via YouTube or
  3. Practice tagging photos using your own pictures from your shopping trips.

If you are interested in learning more about Adobe products to grow your fashion career I highly recommend the following reads: