Do you Keyword your Photos?


(Don’t know where to start? Click here to Download Varina’s Keyword List. Then import the text file to Bridge or Lightroom.)

Keywords help you find your photographs when you need them – and they are often uploaded as metadata when you use your photos online. We get lots of questions about how we use them – most recently, Frederick Van Johnson asked us about it on TWiP. (You can hear what I have to say about key-wording starting at 0:55:15.)

But what are keywords for? Well, they have a variety of uses. Here are just a few of the ways we use them:

1. Maintaining a Searchable Website: If you visit my blog, you’ll find a search box at the top of the page. You can search for blog posts on whatever topic that interests you. We keyword our blog posts to make our websites more user-friendly.

2. Searching for Photos with a Specific Theme: Sometimes, we get requests from clients for images that match a specific theme. Maybe a publisher need a series of images from national parks to illustrate an upcoming magazine article – or maybe an interior designer is looking for calming photographs of waterfalls for the lobby of a hospital. We never know what the next client will need, so we are careful about keywording our images so we can make selections quickly. I can search for waterfall photos in Bridge (you can do it in Lightroom, too) and every photo with a matching keyword will show up.

3. Keywords for Stock Agencies: Stock agencies usually require that keywords are included with images when I upload. If I keyword my RAW files right away, I can send those keywords along with my finished files when I upload them later.

So, how do you get started? I started my own keyword list years ago, and have been building it ever since. When Jay started key-wording, he started with my keyword list – and he has built upon it since then. When I visit a new location, I add it to my keyword list – so the list is always evolving. You can create your own keyword list from scratch, or build upon the one that is included with Bridge and Lightroom. Or you can start with someone else’s established keyword list. If you’d like, you can Download My Keyword List to get started. Just click on the link, save the file to your desktop, and then use the menu on your keyword palette to import the list. Feel free to make changes to it to suit your needs! It’s easy!



About Author Varina Patel

There is nothing more remarkable to me than the power of nature. It is both cataclysmic and subtle. Slow and continuous erosion by water and wind can create landscapes every bit as astonishing as those shaped by catastrophic events – and minuscule details can be as breathtaking as grand vistas that stretch from one horizon to the other. Nature is incredibly diverse. Burning desert sands and mossy riverbanks… Brilliant sunbeams and fading alpenglow… Silent snowfall and raging summer storms… Each offers a unique opportunity. I am irresistibly drawn to the challenge of finding my next photograph, and mastering the skills required to capture it effectively.