Keywords And Tags

Whether you use a time-based or folder organization, a valuable tool for helping you sort through your photos are keywords or tags. Keywords and tags are essentially the same thing—words or phrases that identify properties or characteristics of a photo, which might be used in a search for that photo.

For example, typical keywords on our system include flowers, mountain, daniel, sally, cuddles, philadelphia, budapest, beach, sunset, computer, digital camera, pet, and so on. (We don't use capital letters in our keywords, as we explain later in this chapter.) Suppose that we knew we had a photo of Daniel sitting by a river with a mountain in the background, but weren't sure where we had taken it or when. We could do a search on mountain, daniel, and river, and the software would display thumbnails of all the pictures on our network that had those keywords.

The differences between tags and keywords are procedural and relate to the type of software you're using. Consumer-level software, seeking to make keywording less cumbersome and more automated, use predefined tags that you can add to and customize (see Figure 21-3). Usually, all it involves is selecting a group of photos (see the tip "Easily Select Groups of Photos" earlier in this chapter) and then choosing the tags you wish to associate with them.

Figure 21-3: (A)In Adobe Photoshop Album we have customized the tags. All that's involved in adding a tag to a picture file is clicking and dragging it onto the thumbnail. (B) In the thumbnail view, we have several photos of Sally. In some, she is by our stream with our dog Cuddles. In others, she is working on a laptop and sometimes looking at a digital camera. We've tagged all of them sally and poconos. (C) However, only some are tagged cuddles. (D) Others have tags for computer and digital camera. (© 2004 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All rights reserved. Adobe and Photoshop are registered trademarks of Adobe Systems Incorporated in the United States and/or other countries.)

Figure 21-3: (A)In Adobe Photoshop Album we have customized the tags. All that's involved in adding a tag to a picture file is clicking and dragging it onto the thumbnail. (B) In the thumbnail view, we have several photos of Sally. In some, she is by our stream with our dog Cuddles. In others, she is working on a laptop and sometimes looking at a digital camera. We've tagged all of them sally and poconos. (C) However, only some are tagged cuddles. (D) Others have tags for computer and digital camera. (© 2004 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All rights reserved. Adobe and Photoshop are registered trademarks of Adobe Systems Incorporated in the United States and/or other countries.)

Professional and advanced amateur programs (such as Extensis Portfolio or ACDSee) provide feature-rich tools for defining and refining keywords. The most important of these is a Master List, a customized reference list from which you choose your keywords. Using a Master List ensures that you're consistent with spelling, punctuation, and other variables that could affect the reliability of your search (see Figure 21-4). For example, if some photos have a keyword philadelphia while others have it misspelled as phildelphia, when we search for photos of our hometown, the program will return only those pictures with the precise spelling we type.

Obviously, the better job you do at defining your keywords or tags, the more useful they'll be. Here are some suggestions:

Use the mantra "who, what, when, where, and why" to help you come up with appropriate keywords or tags.

Keyword Picker

Available Keywords:

Assigned Keywords:

booksigrangs

computer

budapest

digital camera

car

poconos

cuddles

sally

darnel

digital photography seminars

| Assign-> ]

mountain

nyc

panda

| <- Remove ]

Philadelphia

rascal

speaking engagements

stream

teddy

wildlie

[ Edit List ]

OK | [ Cancel

Figure 21-4: In ACDSee, we have created a Master List of keywords (left column) to which we can add. Double-clicking any of them (or clicking on a keyword and then on the Assign button) puts that keyword into the right column to assign it to the current photo or group of selected photos. Using a Master List in this manner assures consistent keywording. (Courtesy of ACD Systems.)

Figure 21-4: In ACDSee, we have created a Master List of keywords (left column) to which we can add. Double-clicking any of them (or clicking on a keyword and then on the Assign button) puts that keyword into the right column to assign it to the current photo or group of selected photos. Using a Master List in this manner assures consistent keywording. (Courtesy of ACD Systems.)

■ If the photos are part of a professional or business project, create keywords or tags with the project name, client, and other identifiers.

■ Attach a keyword or tag to a photo only if you would want to have that photo pulled up when you use that keyword. For example, if the picture has a mountain in the background, is that an important enough part of the composition and/or location identification to warrant attaching mountain to the file?

■ Be consistent with your keywords. Use a Master List if at all possible (see Figure 21-4).

■ Some programs are case sensitive. If you type the keyword or tag in lowercase letters, the software won't recognize the same word capitalized. To avoid the potential problem of typing in the wrong case, we never use capitals, even on proper names.

■ Take advantage of the batch processing capabilities of these programs. At the very least, you should be able to select groups of photos that were taken at the same time of the same subject and assign the same keywords to all of them at once.

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