Started Keywording My Photos

Since I was bored, and didn’t want to put it off any longer, this weekend I started tagging my photos with keywords. I read The DAM Book a bit ago, and it really was cool to see how things should work. Currently my directory structure and image organization is to stuff everything from a shoot or day of shooting (or when I get around to unloading the camera) to a directory on my fileshare similar to “/year/year-month-day – description/filename.ext”. IE:

p:\2006\2006-10-16 - sunrises from the seabus

Inside which are all the files dumped from the camera. Right now that hasn’t changed much, but what has changed is that now I’m doing the keywording and naming of files right off the bat. Actually not even renaming them, it’s all about the keywording. There’s a cool little program called Image Ingester (forum) which downloads, renames, backs up (twice!), and converts RAW to DNG, applies copyright information, and various other nifty things. Anyway, long story short I’ve gotten in the habit of at least appling the broad metadata to new images, location, event, etc, the stuff that will make it far easier to find those pics from the Abbotsford Berry Festival of 2004 for example (well, in theory anyway).

The PITA is of course that I have some 20,000 scans and digital images that I’ve already got. So over the weekend I sat down and chose my “1993 – England” folder of scans from my last trip to the motherland (actually I guess that’d be the fatherland) and started going through them, using Adobe Bridge to tag with events, locations and people, again using some tricks from The DAM Book. So far I’ve made it through 5 directories with a mere 200 images in it, and managed to accumulate a total of about as many keywords.

Probably the biggest challenge is controlled vocabulary (note to self: read linked page here). Do museum images get tagged as “museum” or “museums”? Capital or lower-case? A picture of someone sitting in front of a monment, what tags do they get? How detailed do you go? What details do you include or exclude? Tag it with a ‘historic site’ as well as the name of the monument? Does an image of Barley Castle get ‘historic site’ as well as a generic ‘castle’ (or is it ‘castles’?) tag as well as the name of the place, it’s sublocation (ie: York IIRC)… how far down the rabbit hole do I have to go?

That said, I keep on coming up with these questions as I go along so the images I started with have maybe 3 keywords attached to them, while some of the latest ones have 6 or 7. Hopefully it’ll be worth it as the end result is the ability to use a cataloging tool and have virtual folders of all my images sorted six ways to sunday so I can immediatly pull out images of say, climbing with Lawrence, or my anything of me and Firefly in Hawaii or the like.

Also, it’s a good exercise to go through to remember what I have shot and maybe pull some keepers out to put on the wall.

One Comment on “Started Keywording My Photos”

  1. I’m struggling with the same issue of depth you mention above. The TGMI thesaurus gives an excellent controlled vocablulary but it can take a while to keyword everything. I like to keyword before uploading to flickr but it’s taking so long that I’m not getting photos uploaded.
    One question you may want to ask yourself is “How do I find photos in my catalogue?”. I go by date, event, location and who is in it. If I can’t find something after that then a visual search suffices. Rarely do I search by keywords. If I took the time to keywords against the time lost in searching for something I can’t find I’m putting way too much time into keywording.
    Bottom line for me is that I’m going to abort keywording apart from those I use to recall things by. Keywording by date (exif first which then sets the filename [check out downloader pro from breezesys to help with that), location (country, province/state, city, location), event and person. All of these match to IPTC fields as well which makes it possible to store info in the jpg/dng in case your database dies.
    Cheers, David