Never lose a picture again: photo tagging explained

Photo tagging explained

Photo tagging is an essential part of good photo management. We know what you’re thinking: you know where all your pictures are. But the more photos you take, the more relevant photo tagging becomes.

As the size of your image collection swells, the more it will become clear that you’re going to need a more efficient way to find those classic shots rather than relying on memory alone. If you’re thinking of selling any of your pictures, you’ll definitely need to get on top of tagging.

For those photographers that have yet to discover the delights of adding tags and keywords to photos, the idea is simple. You add words or phrases that describe the image, and these make it visible when you search through your photo library or in photo sharing sites.

It’s quick and easy to add tags these days, as image editors and photo management packages can help you add relevant keywords to more than one picture at a time. The more detailed you can be with your photo tagging, the easier it will be to find a picture when you need to.

With that in mind, here are 7 tips to get you started in photo tagging…

Add multiple tags
Don’t just rely on three or four generic tags, like ‘colour’ or ‘big’. The more detail you can add, the more you’ll be able to narrow down your tag search when you’re trying to pinpoint a shot or group of shots.

Be specific
List names, places, dates, events and seasons. Go so far as adding the broad focal length of the lens, if you think you might need to find all examples of your ’20mm’ lens at some point in the future.

Use individual words where possible
Avoid linking multiple words in a tag if you can. Use ‘beach’ rather than ‘on the beach’, or individual tags for ‘London’ and ‘night’ rather than ‘London at night’.

Check for typos
When you first start filling up your collection of tags, check them for typos – a spelling mistake can lead to a photo not showing up when you start searching with the correct term. Image management systems will suggest terms as you start typing, but it only takes a few seconds to review your tag term when you initially enter it.

Be descriptive
As well as using names, locations and events as tags, think about other elements of the image that you might want to search for later. For instance, is there a predominant colour you can pick out? Are there any emotions the picture shows or implies? These might seem small things, but if you want to enter your pictures in competition, or compile a book around a specific theme, then more descriptive tags like these can save you a lot of legwork.

Don’t miss the obvious
It’s easy to forget simple tags when you’re concentrating on the content of the picture, but don’t forget to add the physical information about the shot. Is it vertical or horizontal? Is it a square shot or a panoramic one? Is it black and white, sepia… you get the picture.

Tag multiple images
Rather than painstakingly tagging every image individually, assign a tag to a group of photos to cut down on your work. The tagging feature in image management packages like Project1709 let you assign tags to more than one image easily.

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