Defining keywords

Cataloging your images

Do you struggle with creating and managing keywords for your cataloging your images?

Not everyone needs to keyword their photos but if you do, then you need a system to do so. There are so ways to go about building a catalogue of keywords and here are my tips and methods.

  • Manageable – You need to keep your keyword list manageable.
    • If you create thousands of keywords you will struggle to apply and manage them. Unless you need to catalogue your images for scientific or specialist reasons keep your keyword list simple. 
  • Abstraction
    • When developing a keyword list, think about what you photograph and why. Also think about how you may want to search, find and your images. Abstracting away from detail is key to developing a good keyword list. For example, if you photograph cars, planes and people and places, your high level keyword list might look like this.
  1. Transport
  2. People and Pets
  3. Places
  • Abstraction continued
    • This is a good starting place to cataloging your images. You can classify all of your images at a high level of abstraction, grouping them and making them easier to find.
  • Level of detail
    • The trick is not to over complicate your keywording. Let’s take a look at Transport, I could take Transport and break it down into
  • Transport
    • Road
    • Rail
    • Air
    • Sea

I could go even further and do something like

  1. Transport
    1. Road
    2. Lorries
    3. Cars – Nissan, Renault, Mercedes etc…..
    4. Bikes
    5. etc…..

The problem with this is that my keywording and cataloging is starting to get very complicated and will be very time-consuming to manage. Unless you have a specific need then learn to group your photos at an abstract level rather than a detailed level.

If you need some inspiration to create a catalogue of keywords check out some stock photo sites.

Here is my list, use it as you like, I find this covers all my needs as a someone photographing a variety of subjects.

  • Animals – anything to do with wildlife
  • Buildings & Architecture – all buildings, interiors, exteriors
  • Events – weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, concerts etc…
  • Food & Drink – all foods and drinks
  • Hobbies, Leisure – Sport – all activities
  • Landscape – beaches, countryside, townscapes etc…
  • People & Pets – anything to do with people and pets
  • Places – countries, towns, cities, monuments etc…
  • Plants & Flowers – woods, trees, plants, flowers, gardens etc

I have put some explanations and definitions to my keyword list for cataloging my images. This stops me creating unnecessary keywords and defines what keywords I can associate my images with.

If you create a list similar to mine you will find it easy catalogue your images at an abstract level and you will quickly find your images.


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