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Lightroom Keyword List for Photographers

Lets face it - no photographer enjoys the task of keywording his photos, but if those images are to be found online by picture researchers or image buyers, its a task that has to be endured if we expect our photos to translate to useful sales.

          Can a Buyer find your image? No? Then it will never sell!

Even though keywording our images is a task that can't be avoided, anything we can do to reduce the amount of time taken would therefore be very welcome. As a professional travel photographer with 1000s of images in my databases, I've put in a lot of time thinking about this problem. The bottom line to that thought is this: speed, accuracy, and consistency of image keywording depends on a comprehensive list of keywords that you can choose from. Not only comprehensive, the keyword list must also be well organized in a logical and intuitive way, so that the correct keywords can be located quickly and accurately, time after time.

Why do you need a List of Keywords ?

But is a list of keywords really necessary? After all, you could just open Lightroom or your other image editing programs and start keywording on the fly, adding keywords as they occur to you.

Here are 8 reasons why that's not a good idea:

  1. Consistency - using the same terms for similar photos throughout your collection makes searching and filtering much easier.
  2. Spelling - a Keyword List has already been checked for spelling mistakes. Misspelled words result in unique keywords, unlocated images, and resultant lost income.
  3. Clarity - Nested terms are only on view when you want to look at them. When you start Lightroom, you should only see the Main Categories, not the full list of many thousands of Keywords. If properly organized, you should be able to speedily 'drill down' to locate the exact words for your needs in a quick and logical way.
  4. Speed - a Keyword List will help you to quickly locate Keywords as they come to mind through a logical progression of sensible groupings.
  5. Similars - Once a topic has been opened, other keywords should suggest themselves, helping you to refine your description and keyword-set until you are satisfied that they can't be improved.
  6. Hierarchy - When a Keyword is chosen from a hierarchical list, its parent keywords should be automatically added. Add 'Fox Terrier' and you should automatically include 'dog', 'household pet', and 'mammal'.
  7. Completeness - It's important that no aspect of the image description is omitted when choosing keywords - Photo buyers expect your image to be keyworded in the correct way.
  8. Diversity - You probably have a good imagination, but it might take you a little time to come up with a list of 1000s of keywords, divided into 100s of categories, sub-categories, and deeper levels of organization.

Which Keyword List to Choose?

So now you have realized some of the many benefits of using a pre-formatted list, you might now be wondering if I have a particular photographers keyword list in mind. When I had decided what the type and structure of the ideal photographers keyword list should be, I went to find it online. I was surprised by what I did find. There are very few keyword lists suitable for photographers available, and those that are there all had some problems in the way they organized and presented their data. So, just as happened when I needed a complete set of world mini flags for my various website and mapping projects, I decided to create my own Keyword List as well. It was a huge project that took many months of hard work, but at the end of that time I had a Keyword List that did 'what it says on the packet', and speeded up my keywording process significantly. That keyword list is now available for anyone who needs it. You can read more about it on its own website, at External link opens a new Browser window

Why you should choose the '' list rather than one of its competitors? There are a number of reasons:

  • Organization - the '' Hierarchical Image Keyword Catalog currently contains approximately 33,900 Keywords, and that's before the geographical entities applicable to your locality are added as well. As a flat file, such a huge list would be unmanageable and the user overwhelmed. This list, though, is thoughtfully split into 7 main categories, 100 sub-categories, and 819 sub-sub and deeper level categories. Finding the required Keyword has never been easier.
  • Structure - the list is carefully structured to 'walk you through' the process of Keywording, making sure that you don't omit any of the terms that the professional buyer is searching for. By working your way down the various categories, you will be minded to add Keywords to your image that might otherwise have been overlooked. How many people are in the image? What age are they? Is their some relationship between the people? How about Gender and Ethnicity? How are the items in the image grouped? Is there some dominant color? What time of day was it? Was there some special event taking place?
  • Expansibility - the list is designed from the start to be easily expanded by the addition of Specialist Lists, which can be added in their own section without changing the content or layout of the master list. Free Specialist Lists can be found on the Specialist Keyword Lists External link opens a new Browser window page, or at a variety of locations on the internet (some links to these are on my Keywording Resources External link opens a new Browser window page).
  • Size - Whether or not you wish to compare the extent of the '' Hierarchical Image Keyword Catalog with other commercial keyword lists (hint: check the Resources External link opens a new Browser window page), there is no doubt that our list of approximately 33,900 keywords in its defined hierarchical order of 7 main categories, 100 sub-categories, and 819 sub-sub and deeper level categories is of a very adequate size that should suit most amateur or pro-photographers, companies or academic institutions.
  • Customized to YOUR location - A good keyword list needs a section of geographical locations, but there is no point filling a list with a lot of geographic entities (states or cities) that you are unlikely to be interested in. If you are a photographer from England, it would be useful to have a list of all those towns and counties to work from. If you are from Texas, it would be useful to list all the populated places from there. If these two don't apply, there's no point having those details. Thats why the '' Hierarchical Image Keyword Catalog is so unique: there are currently 119 different versions, carefully chosen to match the area YOU are interested in. All the US states, commonwealths, and territories are there, with the populated places for each one. There's also different versions for Australia, Canada, England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, listing their states, provinces, or counties with their own populated places. If you are a world traveler you can choose a version with every country and state in the world. If you are after a minimalist list, you can choose just the countries of the world, or the countries of the world + the US states. You choose - they all cost the same price.
  • Personalized to YOUR location - Its not just the geographic entities that are specific to where you are. Each version of the Keyword Catalog is personalized to the area that you choose in a variety of ways:
    • American-English and British-English spellings - All North American versions of the list use American-English as the primary language, and provide the British-English equivalent spelling as a synonym. All the versions for Great Britain: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland & Wales do the opposite. There are over 500 separate US/UK english words that get updated each time the lists are built.
    • 'HISTORIC SITES' & 'NATURAL SITES' - both of these sections are uniquely tailored to your locality. The U.S. versions contain lists of local historic sites, memorials, monuments, battlegrounds, and national cemeteries in the 'HISTORIC SITES' sections, and national forests, parks, lakes, preserves, recreation areas, seashores and wilderness areas in the 'NATURAL SITES' sections. A similar localized list is included for other countries, and is unique to them.
    • Local Wildlife - each version has lists of Birds, Mammals, Trees, and Wildflowers that live and grow in your area. Entries are sorted by common name, with the scientific genus and species names too. When tagging plant and animal life, it is important that these are included in your keywords.
    • National Festivals & Public Holidays - each version lists the important annual holidays and events that occur in your part of the world.

  • Price - It seems to me that some of the other commercially available keyword lists are far too expensive for what's being offered. Without wishing to discuss this here, I'll just say that the price for licensing the '' Hierarchical Image Keyword Catalog, which is currently just $49 including 1 year of free updates from your date of purchase, is what I consider to be a fair price, charging for quality without exploiting scarcity. The price only varies if more countries are added.

For further information about all aspects of keywording for photographers, and the '' Hierarchical Image Keyword Catalog, please visit the External link opens a new Browser window website.

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