Image of Keyword

I was often asked, “Why in the world you put even your father’s First and Last Name in your phone’s contact?” Since they would see me filling in “Fast Name”, “Last Name” and all the relevant information I had every time I saved a new contact. One of my friends once jokingly said, “Minhajul is a proper user of technology.” But none of them really knew why I did so. Technology is powerful and it becomes more powerful when it seamlessly integrates with other technologies and with our life. I happened to have my contact information synchronized across my all devices and I wanted them to be as formal as possible to make it usable in another context. Since I knew if I search by a keyword like “father” or “dad” as they did that would also pull out my father’s contact details without any trouble if those words or phrases were available in the place of “relation”, “nickname” or “pet name” though the First and Last Name held the actual details which were different.

The searching algorithm looks up information by words. It checks whether the given words are available in the content and those specific contents are extracted from the databases. Google does the same thing probably in the smartest way. So do Bing and other search engine algorithms. But images on the web are treated differently than text. Search engines cannot read an image the way it reads a text. Image formats like JPEG, or PNG, or TIFF can contain some text in it called metadata which comes into play when they are looked up by search engines. In order to get your images understood by search engines, they must be properly described and keyworded. I strongly recommend you to understand this concept to make your images available for the search engines and searching algorithms written for specific applications as well.


Who is it for?

The concept of a keyword may go across all kinds electronic files but I’m going to discuss keywording images or illustrations. As I’m going to show you how Adobe Bridge and Lightroom handles keywords and how you can automate this process in your digital workflow. But the fundamentals of keywording remain the same for all kinds of electronic files.


What is a keyword?

Keywords have a very different meaning in the world of programming, they are special and reserved words/commands and for everything else, it’s a word having a special meaning to a particular context. It’s an implication of what people actually mean beyond a word. It could also be treated as a tag for reference to the context. This concept is also extended to hashtagging.


Benefits of Keywords

Properly keyworded photographs will benefit you in many different ways. Eventually, the idea of keyword takes you to the area of automation. If you are a high-range digital shooter it will make your life easier and it is the key element that will fetch you money when you are in the stock photography business.

  • Digital Asset Management (DAM): Digital Asset Management is a part of entire Digital Workflow where digital files are organized in a meaningful way to enhance accessibility. Different photographers design it in different ways and that depends on the type of their job and type of application they are using. Adobe has two sophisticated applications to handle it, Adobe Bridge which deals with all kinds of files including photographs and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom which is specially designed for digital photographers. When your photographs contain relevant keywords you can easily filter and sort your images according to those keywords. This technique can also be used for categorization using Smart Collection which auto-populates your digital libraries. Basically, properly keyworded files will help you handle a lot of work automatically.
  • Stock Photography: How would people know that you have some beautiful images if they cannot find it? To answer this question we should know how people find something on the web. They find it through search engines and search engine algorithms fetch them relevant results; basically, links. Search engines look for relevant information in the form of text as there is no such algorithm ever written to read the content in the images, music or videos. So for all electronic files except ‘text’ we need to provide additional information called ‘metadata’ to help search engines to realize what’s in it.


Keyword Efficiently

A professional photographer often finds himself involved in other important tasks than keywording. Eventually, this part is neglected if one isn’t a stock photographer where keywording photographs isn’t a primary concern. As going through a dictionary every time to find relevant keywords and their synonyms isn’t easy, time-consuming and quite boring. But there is a way around it if you are using an application like Adobe Bridge or Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. These applications will help you list your most used keywords in a meaningful and hierarchical way. Of course, a list of useful keywords always comes in handy. To make this navigation easier you can group them or categorize them. Quickly eyeing your list of keywords will ensure whether you are missing something (like other relevant keywords, synonyms, scientific names etc) rather than hunting your mind or spending time thinking of relevant keywords.


How to Create a List of Keywords

For Adobe Applications, Adobe Bridge and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom there are possibly two approaches. Either you can create your list using the application interfaces or you can create a text document with proper line breaks and indentations and then import the file into Adobe Bridge or Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.

Creating Keyword List Using the Application Interface

You can create your own list of useful keywords right into Adobe Bridge or Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. To do that you have to go through the following steps.

Adobe Bridge

  • Step 1 : Click the New Keyword button or the New Sub Keyword button to create a keyword.[columns] [span6]br-create-new-keyword
  • Step 2 : Type the keyword in the text box.
  • Step 3 : Press enter to commit.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

  • Step 1 : Click the Create New Keyword Tag button on Keyword List panel or to create a sub-keyword make sure to select the parent keyword before you click the Create New Keyword Tag button on the Keyword List
  • Step 2 : Put the keyword and other attributes as synonyms if you want them to be automatically assigned when you select the
  • Step 3 : If you are creating sub keyword then the selected parent keyword will appear in the dialog box. In this example it’s “Animal”. Check Put inside “Animal” if you want it to appear under “Animal”.lr-create-sub-keyword-tag-dialog-box
  • Step 4 : Click on the Create button to commit.


Create Keyword List Using a Text Document

Creating a list using a ‘Text Document’ is a bit tricky and it works absolutely fine. I often make changes to this file and import it back to update my list. One of the reasons I prefer to work this way because it gives me more control. I put the words the way I want and then the Adobe Bridge or Adobe Photoshop Lightroom does a great job in rearranging those words in an alphabetic and hierarchical order according to the indentations.

  • Step 1 : Create a ‘Text Document’ and name it anything you want.
  • Step 2 : Type your keywords each in a separate line. No comma (,) or period (.) is allowed in the document.
  • Step 3 : For hierarchical arrangement press ‘Tab’ once to list the keyword under the keyword specified above. Basically the indented keyword becomes a child. Any child enclosed in curly brackets (braces {}) will be treated as synonym by Lightroom. Synonyms are usually hidden on the application interface but they automatically get assigned when the keyword is selected.

Note: To better understand how the keywords are structured consider opening the template file in any text editor.


Import & Export

Backing up your template files is a good practice. It ensures you an extra layer of protection. You might want to save different versions of your template file as your list grows.

The following step by step instruction will help you to import and export a Keyword List template.

Adobe Bridge

  1. Import
    1. Open the Keywords Panel. If it’s not there go to Window menu and select it.
    2. Click the menu residing in the upper right corner of of the Keyword Panel.
    3. Select “Import…”.
    4. Locate the file (.txt) on your computer.
    5. Click on “Open” to import all the keywords that file is containing.
  2. Export
    1. Open the Keywords Panel. If it’s not there go to Window menu and select it.
    2. Click the menu residing in the upper right corner of of the Keyword Panel.
    3. Select “Export…”.
    4. Chose the destination of the file (.txt).
    5. Click on “Save” to export all the keywords of your Keyword List.

Note: Adobe Bridge doesn’t allow any synonym. If your file contains synonyms Adobe Bridge will discard them while you import the template file.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

  1. Import
    1. Click on “Metadata” on the menu bar then select “Import Keywords…”.
    2. Locate the file (.txt) on your computer.
    3. Click on “Open” to import all the keywords that file is containing.
  2. Export
    1. Click on “Metadata” on the menu bar then select “Export Keywords…”.
    2. Chose the destination of the file (.txt).
    3. Click on “Save” to export all the keywords of your Keyword List.

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  1. Thanks for this article. Will these keywords so assigned be usable outside Adobe. Say if I copy this file to another drive which does not have Adobe. Can some other program be used to read these very keywords.

    1. Hi Kush,

      Absolutely, the keywords will stay with the files or images you’ve assigned to, no matter where you take it. When you assign keywords to a file they are stored in the metadata of that file. So once you add some keywords they are no longer depended on Adobe.

      However, in Lightroom things are a little different. Since it is a catalog-based application. When you add keywords inside Lightroom the application doesn’t add them to the actual files on your hard drive. Rather they are stored in the catalog. If you really want to push the changes to your hard drive you have to go one more step. Press Ctrl + S and it will save all the metadata of that image from the catalog to your actual file.

      Hope this bought more clarity to your understanding.

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