Photo Workflow 10 - Tag

   Finally, we're to the step for which I bought Photo Mechanic. Tagging images with keywords is a really long story in itself. Here's the summary:

   Navigate to the "3 & +" folder in Photo Mechanic. These are the images you'll be tagging now. Photo Mechanic works with a really cool system known as "Structured Keywords." I began with the keywords they recommended, but that system had a bunch of keywords I'll never use... and didn't include most of the ones I was looking for. So I've basically built my own system. A "taxonomy" is a system of order... building my own taxonomy has been a really cool thing because it amounts to an exercise of setting my world in order. Here's my taxonomy. And if you want all the keywords, let me know and I'll send you the file. Or maybe I'll just post it here later. In any case, my taxonomy of structured keywords has the following root categories:















   Within each of these root categories, I can drill down into over 10,000 keywords. For most shoots, I don't use over a couple hundred or so. There are many that I've never used to date, but because they're arranged in a tree, the rarely-used ones don't clog up the ones I use frequently. To get to Structured Keywords, click Command-Option-K or select Image>Structured Keywords Panel from the menu bar. Here are the categories I go through with every shoot:

   architecture>architect, historical, and regional

   building>exterior, interior, massing, and types

   creature>human>action>(walking, sitting, standing, etc.)

   environment>land>(natural or manmade, with several subcategories, including Transect zones)


   issue>(quite a number of choices)

   thoroughfare>(frontage, punctuation, and type, with subcategories)

   transportation>(air, land, space, water, with subcategories)

   I've also started tagging select images according to several idea systems. Specifically, I'm tagging Pattern Language patterns, Transect zones, Light Imprint patterns, and Original Green ideas.

   Tagging with Photo Mechanic is pretty easy because you can select a bunch of images to which a particular keyword (or keyword path) applies and tag them all at one time. You can also click into the search box at the top left of the Structured Keywords window and search for any keyword you like (avenue, arm-wrestling, faucet, column, post lamp... whatever.)

   Originally, I over-tagged. Now, I'm tagging only the most important characteristics of each image. I'm trying to keep it to about 10 keywords or keyword paths. Diigo (which will be discussed as part of a subsequent series of blog posts) allows keywords totaling 256 characters or less, so if you happen to post your images somewhere and want to tag that page with the same tags you're using in Photo Mechanic, you need to keep it succinct. Also, if you tag too broadly, it's useless because you pull up too much stuff. Just because an image shows an eave doesn't mean you need to tag it with "eave." Is the eave one of the big stories of the image, or does it just happen to be there?

   The next step is to process images.

© 2012 The Guild Foundation Press