If you have been taking digital pictures for a while you’ve probably been forced to deal with organizing your pictures. You have also probably been asking yourself if the method you’re using is a good method. Currently there are two different approaches to picture organization: using tags and using folders. There are a number of software programs that support either or both methods. Which method should you choose? This article will analyze the tag and folder based methods for picture organization.
TAG Method description
This method involves assigning one or more tags (or keywords) to each digital picture on the hard drive. For example: let’s say that I take some pictures of my grandma’s birthday this year in 2007. Let’s also say that I’m taking 100 pictures. I download them to my computer into some folder (the name of the folder is irrelevant at this point) and bring up my organization software (you always need one if you’re using tags). The software imports the folder and I see all my pictures that I have just taken. Then I assign some tags to all of them or a part of them…this is called bulk tagging (this feature is a must for any tagging software). So, I assign the following tags:
What do you use for organizing your digital pictures: tags or folders?
Next, let’s say that I’m taking some pictures of my daughter Cristina at her own birthday in 2007. So, I go through the same process and I assign the following tags:
2007. Now, the key is that the tags represent categories, your own categories. So, if you want pictures to fall within the same category then you have to use the same tag. In this case a tag called
birthday is different than a tag called
birthdays. Software usually allows you to manage your tags and will help you choose the right tags.
The main purpose for creating and assigning tags is that you would be able to easily find your pictures. So, let’s say you’re looking for birthdays in 2007. Then you would open up your organization software and do a search on
2007. This will filter out all the other pictures and will show you only the birthdays in 2007…assuming you have tagged them correctly. If I want to see all of my daughter’s pictures I would search for:
Cristina. This would only show pictures that contain the tag
The key advantage here is that one picture can belong to many keywords or tags. I can assign as many tags as I want to a picture. So every time I’m searching for one of the tags assigned to a particular picture, that picture would show up in my search.
Applying tags to images
There are two ways (with some variations) in which software programs apply tags (or keywords) to a picture. The most widely used method is to embed these keywords in the image file itself by adding a little bit of text containing the keywords. This way the tags stay with image and they “travel” with the image. There are two main standards used for embedding tags into images:
XMP, the latter being the newest and most popular standard created by Adobe. There are free software packages that can write tags to your images if you choose to do so (i.e. XnViewer).
Other software packages apply “labels” to pictures and rather than writing to the image files themselves, they create a database with the keywords for each picture. This database is usually a file that is saved and updated on your computer every time you apply one or more labels to your pictures. This “tagging” method will make you dependent on the particular software you’re using and your labels will not “travel” with your pictures.
Next Page: The folder method analysis