Photo Management and Keyword Tags part 1

Advanced photo management normally implements some type of tagging or categories to help find images long after they were initially added to a database of some type.  The problem with this is that no standard exists for how to maintain your tags.  I’ll share how various applications deal with this.

The EXIF sections of image files don’t provide a place to store tagging information; that information normally goes into the IPTC section.  The IPTC section supports a caption, keywords and categories.  This sounds fine but as it turns out many applications use this data in various inconsistent ways.

ACDSee supports a hierarchical database of Categories.  Also supported is the ability to write this information into the image file.  The standard database hierarchy data is written into a proprietary area of the file.  While this is great for rebuilding an ACDSee database, it isn’t helpful when using other applications that won’t see the data.  It turns out there’s a feature called “Batch Set Information” which you can use to both read and write database tags to and from the IPTC area.  This powerful tool has been able to manipulate the tags anyway I have wanted them changed.  The IPTC section is shown in the image below.

Photoshop Elements uses the standard IPTC data and does write it to the IPTC section along with adding additional information into proprietary areas of the file.  The good news is that many other applications recognize Adobe information in the file.  You can’t change the data directly but it is maintained in the file.  Here’s a sample of the viewer in PSE that shows the GPS, EXIF, IPTC and ACDSee information.

Next time I’ll cover how Windows and Apple iPhoto handle tags.

Thoughts, comments and additional insight are appreciated.

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