Image Keywords

   I've finally got my keyword system running... I first blogged about it in Image Management Breakthrough a few months ago. Later, I blogged about my image taxonomy, but that was before I bought a taxonomy from Controlled Vocabulary. What's an image taxonomy? It's a system of classifying and arranging things. As you might guess, I've spent a lot of time since then weaving the Controlled Vocabulary taxonomy into my own. It takes a bit of time to but the entire world into order. My top-level categories, FWIW, are:















   Obviously, this taxonomy is built around architecture and urbanism, as some of the categories would never be top-level in a comprehensive system. But that's the important thing... having a taxonomy that works for you. Because the point is to be able to put the proper keywords in place as quickly as possible. Here's how my system works at this moment:

   I do all my keywording in Photo Mechanic, which I'm growing to love more all the time. It's similar to Lightroom, but while I'm normally a big Adobe fan, this is one instance where a competing product is clearly better, faster, and more nimble.

   I begin by selecting all images in a folder, which in my system, means that they all were shot in the same location. I click Command-I, which brings up the IPTC Stationery Pad. It already contains my name, copyright, and contact info... all I need to do is to select the location under Keywords. My taxonomy includes Continent, Nation, State or Province, County or Region, City, and where applicable, Neighborhood (or other notable feature.) This is the first pass.

   Next, I go through the images of buildings, selecting all buildings of the same type, and assigning the appropriate keywords, where the top levels of my taxonomy are:


    Massing (subcategories not shown)

    Part (subcategories not shown)


Agriculture (subcategories not shown)

Attachment (subcategories not shown)

Business (subcategories not shown)

Civic (subcategories not shown)


Education (subcategories not shown)

Industry (subcategories not shown)

Infrastructure (subcategories not shown)

Live/Work (subcategories not shown)

Medical (subcategories not shown)

Mixed Use (subcategories not shown)

Recreation (subcategories not shown)

Religious (subcategories not shown)

Residential (subcategories not shown)

   This is where Photo Mechanic really shines. If you do all further keywording after setting the location using the Image:Structured Keywords panel (Command-Option_K) then the program very intelligently lays the new keywords over the existing so long as you do this: First, click Clear to clear out the current keyword collection which will still be there from the last ones you did. Then drill down to the bottom level keyword you're looking for... maybe it's Building, Type, Business, Retail, [Product], Food, Grocery. Click Add Path. This adds the entire path above except [Product] because square brackets around a word mean that it's just a category, and categories don't get added into the path. So clicking Add Path will add Building, Type, Business, Retail, Food, Grocery to the keyword collection. Then click Apply Path to Selected. This is very important... if you do this, it will add these keywords to your existing keywords for each selected image, rather than replacing them. This allows you to select every image in a folder with a certain characteristic and layer that on. Also, if there's both a grocery store in the picture and also a coffee shop, when you come back and drill down to Building, Type, Business, Food Service, Cafe and do what's described above, it will just add Food Service, Cafe to the end of the existing keywords, rather than adding the entire chain and therefore having duplicates. Very smart, Photo Mechanic! Thanks!

   If you're interested, here's a detailed list of all of my keywords that I developed myself. Everything purchased from other sources has been omitted.

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