How do you catalog your photos?

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ElisaEmic
ElisaEmic New Member • Posts: 1
How do you catalog your photos?

Hello,

I really appreciate the exchanges on Lightroom and photography that take place here.

So I thought of you because I am currently working on a market study on the best solutions to manage and sort your photos.

There are a lot of articles about photo editing but less about cataloging.

What software do you use? Only Litghroom or others ?

What do you think is missing in the current photo management software?

Elisa

Glen Barrington
Glen Barrington Forum Pro • Posts: 22,477
Re: How do you catalog your photos?
1

ElisaEmic wrote:

Hello,

I really appreciate the exchanges on Lightroom and photography that take place here.

So I thought of you because I am currently working on a market study on the best solutions to manage and sort your photos.

There are a lot of articles about photo editing but less about cataloging.

What software do you use? Only Litghroom or others ?

I use ACDSee. Lightroom is TOO slow and limited to relatively small databases (an unfortunate side effect of a relational databases in general), and Adobe is not aggressive enough in pursuing upgrades.  Though to be fair, Photo management is a fairly mature software category.

What do you think is missing in the current photo management software?

Frankly, very little, in terms of absolute features. I'd like to see support for Serif's Affinity file structure. But other than that, there isn't anything I can't do with ACDSee.  But for Lr? drop the relational DB. Users would be much happier, I think.

Elisa

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gordonpritchard Veteran Member • Posts: 5,036
Re: How do you catalog your photos?
2

I just use the MAC OS file structure:

Folders by Year

Inside each year folder is a folder for each month

Inside each month are the images for that month. The images are dated and have descriptive names.

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Glen Barrington
Glen Barrington Forum Pro • Posts: 22,477
Re: How do you catalog your photos?

gordonpritchard wrote:

I just use the MAC OS file structure:

Folders by Year

Inside each year folder is a folder for each month

Inside each month are the images for that month. The images are dated and have descriptive names.

That is nothing special, most people use it, I suspect. I used it 50 years ago, with file cabinets, negatives, and prints.  Having a catalog database makes it easier to keep track of, and create search criteria.

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robgendreau Forum Pro • Posts: 10,208
Re: How do you catalog your photos?

I use Lr Classic. For purposes of organizing, etc it's super fast on my equpment, with tens of thousands of images.

It's upgraded often (just had another one with some improvement in preview management, and masking). Lots of plugins that make metadata management more effective.

I also use Photo Mechanic, and it's still the best out there for bulk metadata entry.

The metadata in image management is pretty mature, and not much new needs to be done IMHO.

gordonpritchard Veteran Member • Posts: 5,036
Re: How do you catalog your photos?
4

Glen Barrington wrote:

gordonpritchard wrote:

I just use the MAC OS file structure:

Folders by Year

Inside each year folder is a folder for each month

Inside each month are the images for that month. The images are dated and have descriptive names.

That is nothing special, most people use it, I suspect. I used it 50 years ago, with file cabinets, negatives, and prints. Having a catalog database makes it easier to keep track of, and create search criteria.

I answered the OP's question. No need for your commentary on my post.

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BertIverson Veteran Member • Posts: 4,408
Re: How do you catalog your photos?

"ThumbsPlus" for the past 22 years. About 20,000 photos. It is an indexed system and will automatically extract keywords/tags from words in the file names and many other sources.

Cerious  Software:

http://www.cerious.com

my 0.02,
Bert

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davidedric Veteran Member • Posts: 7,190
Re: How do you catalog your photos?

Lightroom is TOO slow and limited to relatively small databases (an unfortunate side effect of a relational databases in general

Hey, come on Glen.  I seem to remember you have an IT background! 

I don't find Lightroom too slow, but even if were it would have nothing to do with the relational nature of the Catalogue.  The Catalogue is tiny by database standards, and in practice I don't know of any demonstration of performance being size dependent.

I've been using relational databases since the early days (I even had copies of Ted Codd's original papers) and once the hardware caught up performance was not really an issue, not even on the terabyte databases we were deploying.

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Andy Hewitt Veteran Member • Posts: 4,525
Re: How do you catalog your photos?
1

ElisaEmic wrote:

Hello,

I really appreciate the exchanges on Lightroom and photography that take place here.

So I thought of you because I am currently working on a market study on the best solutions to manage and sort your photos.

There are a lot of articles about photo editing but less about cataloging.

What software do you use? Only Litghroom or others ?

What do you think is missing in the current photo management software?

Elisa

I've tried most of them over the years, but currently I'm an Apple owner, and using Apple Photos, with extension tools working alongside it on an iPad Pro.

There are many factors that might decide what you choose to use though. It will be market pressure (to use what the rest of the world uses perhaps), functionality, personal preference, personal requirements, and for many, budget.

Photography is just a hobby for me, so I have no commercial interest in what I choose. Therefore, I have to justify what I use as far as cost goes.

I was using Lightroom for a long time, and Aperture before that (I only switched due to lack of particular camera support). I've now moved to Photos on the iPad, as it has better functionality than the iPad version of Lightroom - mainly virtual copies, red-eye and choice of external editors - Lightroom only allows Photoshop, Photos has a more open system for that. As far as the manner of storage, and the layout of folders and albums goes, they are actually very similar.

There are others, but in general, I need to minimise the plethora of stuff that requires subscription fees now. Lightroom was no longer justifiable. Photos is included as part of the OS, and the extensions I have are all purchase once options. I do subscribe to iCloud storage, but it's cheaper than Lightroom's, and I was subscribing to it anyway - it made sense to increase it a little, and put all my photos onto that instead.

Of course stability and reliability come into it as well. It's worth noting that on more than one occasion the Adobe system has had issues that has lost user's data. So it's not an infallible option. For sure you'd be having decent backups too though, none of the cloud systems are meant to be your only storage solution. But it's certainly not a reason to choose Adobe over anything else.

As it is though, there are many more options available, although some will depend on the platform of your choice too - have you gone mobile device only, are you on MacOS, Windows, or perhaps you prefer Linux. Each has its own options available.

Perhaps cross platform is something you need - that can limit your options. I make use of cross-device syncing with Apple products, but I have chosen to go down that path.

Good luck.

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Henry Richardson Forum Pro • Posts: 21,939
Re: How do you catalog your photos?
4

I have been using Lightroom Classic for over a decade. I have 120k photos imported into my catalog. Keywords, metadata, and comments to use for search/filter -- fast, essentially instant. I have seen people say the same that had 300k, 400k photos.

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JohnnyLuddite Senior Member • Posts: 1,802
Re: How do you catalog your photos?

I use iMatch, which is fast and flexible and can be programmed/extended with specific requirements. Works well with hundreds of thousands of images - I'm confused about the references above to relational databases being a constraint for this, that's what they do! User attributes can also be added.

iMatch includes - via external services, to do the AI image categorization side which is interesting but not valuable enough yet for my purposes (too many false positives if I can put it like that). The face recognition on the other hand, has got very good, so this helps in bulk categorization. The FR is also local which helps since I'm not comfortable with handing over images to cloud services sometimes.

Unfortunately, exif and other metadata tags are oriented around the industry & stock sales, which makes it harder to use an applicable schema, and controlled vocabularies & keywords aren't that easy to manage (although iMatch's capabilities and support are excellent on that front).

Circling around, when you ask about cataloging, I'd want to inquire, with what purpose?

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dj_paige
dj_paige Veteran Member • Posts: 3,017
Re: How do you catalog your photos?
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Henry Richardson wrote:

I have been using Lightroom Classic for over a decade. I have 120k photos imported into my catalog. Keywords, metadata, and comments to use for search/filter -- fast, essentially instant. I have seen people say the same that had 300k, 400k photos.

I am similar and I use Lightroom Classic. Don't let people fool you into believing "Lightroom Classic is slow", when for almost everyone, Lightroom Classic works well and performs tasks in a reasonable amount of time. I use Lightroom Classic keywords as the primary organizing tool, and also captions, titles, GPS locations and other metadata as needed. Searching in Lightroom Classic by keyword or other metadata is fast.

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Paige Miller

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dj_paige
dj_paige Veteran Member • Posts: 3,017
Re: How do you catalog your photos?

An excellent book on this topic is The DAM Book.

https://thedambook.com/

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Paige Miller

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Glen Barrington
Glen Barrington Forum Pro • Posts: 22,477
Re: How do you catalog your photos?
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davidedric wrote:

Lightroom is TOO slow and limited to relatively small databases (an unfortunate side effect of a relational databases in general

Hey, come on Glen. I seem to remember you have an IT background!

I don't find Lightroom too slow, but even if were it would have nothing to do with the relational nature of the Catalogue. The Catalogue is tiny by database standards, and in practice I don't know of any demonstration of performance being size dependent.

I've been using relational databases since the early days (I even had copies of Ted Codd's original papers) and once the hardware caught up performance was not really an issue, not even on the terabyte databases we were deploying.

Yes as a retired, certified, Teradata DBA, I do know database size should not matter. Certainly not at the level of even a large photo database. But in the case of Lr, it somehow does. As a former Lr user, I DO know that Lr is slow, Slow, SLOW! At least at the time when I went looking for something else. And at the consumer level, it isn't JUST read/write access speed that is considered. It is also the impression of 'responsiveness' over all that drives user satisfaction.  I think hierarchical DB photo managers "Feel" more responsive.

Everything I say below has been simplified so that non-technical users can follow my logic. I'm sure those with detailed knowledge will be able to add detail to these comments. Though I doubt any additional detail will be helpful to non-techies.

Clearly, Lr uses SQL databases for the convenience of the developers. It's going to be easier to implement new features using SQL. But even the fastest, most well designed, database requires maintenance, and maintenance in any photo management software is spotty at best. Consolidation and reindexing is about all that is possible in an end-user's PC. The database infrastructure can't really be changed in any sort of commercial structure regardless of type.

I believe that a hierarchical database is superior to a relational DB for the simple sort of DB management required for photo management. Here is why:

  • Indexing is more straight forward. One doesn't have to traverse an index of indexes. to find data.
  • One doesn't have to traverse a complex index structure to write to the database. A single index is read, and the record is written.
  • Adding records is much simpler. The system adds a record to the end of a file, and a single index is updated.
  • This means no complex import routines are required. Writing to the DB can be done on an ad hoc basis.
  • File structure is rigid in both types of photo managers. It's rigid, in hierarchical DBs because that is the nature of the beast. It is rigid in Lr and other RDB managers to make the environment 'knowable' to the end users. Major changes to the DB come at major version upgrades to both, along with a conversion utility.

The two biggest advantages of a RDB are:

  • Simple changes and modifications to canned queries are often very easy to make.  Heirarchical DBs require some thought.  Useful for developers.
  • "Not" logic is possible with RDBs (i.e. find old ladies, but NOT Grannie).  Though not logic can really slow things down.  Hierarchical DBs can do this much faster than RDBs through the use of groupings, sorts, and keywording.   The serches ore different but just as easy to learn.

I hope this clarifies my logic.

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Annie Ng
Annie Ng Regular Member • Posts: 350
Re: How do you catalog your photos?

ElisaEmic wrote:

What software do you use? Only Litghroom or others ?

What do you think is missing in the current photo management software?

Elisa

I still do not have a proper DAM. I am wondering if there is any AI auto-tagging and DAM software.

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grcolts Veteran Member • Posts: 3,830
Re: How do you catalog your photos?
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I use two programs, one ACDSEE for cataloging and Xnview MP (Free for home use) as a back-up for ACDSEE Pro. Both work very well and are easy to set up too.

JohnnyLuddite Senior Member • Posts: 1,802
Re: How do you catalog your photos?

Annie Ng wrote:

....

I still do not have a proper DAM. I am wondering if there is any AI auto-tagging and DAM software.

Well Excire do a fair bit of auto-tagging and have a form of catalog. It's done at the client end as opposed to the cloud-based scene recognisers from the gorillas (Google, MS etc). While sometimes extremely good, on aggregate there's too many missed/wrong categorizations for my taste - depends what you're doing.

imatch allows you to consume those auto-tagging services as well as doing the face-recognition bit; and is a pretty flexible DAM.

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Cariboou
Cariboou Veteran Member • Posts: 3,639
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Mario M. Westphal
Mario M. Westphal Contributing Member • Posts: 577
Re: How do you catalog your photos?
2

JohnnyLuddite wrote:

imatch allows you to consume those auto-tagging services as well as doing the face-recognition bit; and is a pretty flexible DAM.

I offer IMatch users a choice for auto-tagging (automatically assigning keywords to files). I don't want to force my user-base to use a specific service.

IMatch supports the AI services provided by Google, Microsoft, Clarifai and imagga. Each service offers different features and works better or worse with varying image contents. Some even offer special models for different types of motives (food, wedding, apparel, travel, ...).

In my option, for 'private users', AI-based keywording does not really work all that well. To various the image motives, to different the user expectations.... You can learn more about this here.

If you know that 1 or 2 out of 10 keywords assigned by the AI are wrong or misleading, you have to review each image manually anyway after auto-tagging.
The advanced keyword features in IMatch, from the Keyword Panel to the Universal Thesaurus, synonyms, keyword links and favorites, enable you to quickly assign keywords to large batches of files very quickly. And always 100% correct!

This of course also depends on the file volume you have to deal with. Keywording a couple of thousand photos created during a vacation is easily manageable in a couple hours. If you start with a collection of 100,000+ files without any keywords, things look different

Match is frequently used in institutional and corporate environments. And here you often face the problem to initially organize image collections with 100,000 to 500,000 files, accumulated over 10 or 20 years, mostly without any human-readable metadata at all. I've done IMatch consulting in several or such projects and every bit of help was welcome

Like any other proper DAM, IMatch automatically organizes files by time, location, camera data etc. Which gets you a good length along the way. Utilizing an AI via the IMatch AutoTagger in addition and letting it assign 10 to 20 keywords to each file, is usually extremely helpful.
The cost is negligible too in such scenarios, compared to manual labor. About 150US$ per 100,000 tagged files. Even if 10% - 20% of the keywords are nonsense, you have at least some content-based organization you can start from.

IMatch stores and processes AI-generated keywords in the same way as manually entered keywords, and this means they are available in standard XMP metadata for all other applications out there.

The face recognition is IMatch is based on AI code I have developed and honed over time, and it runs locally on your PC. No privacy issues. IMatch combines face recognition with other features to improve the quality of the recognition and gives uses a lot of control over the process.

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davidedric Veteran Member • Posts: 7,190
Re: How do you catalog your photos?

Excellent response, Glen.  Thanks.  We clearly both know what we are talking about.

I agree with some of your points, but not others.

However, to avoid disappearing down a database rabbit hole, I suspect of no interest to 99% of folks here, I suggest we leave it there

Regards, Dave

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