Software for Organizing, Tagging, and Captioning Photographs

Question from a reader:

Tony, I don’t have 10,000 photographs but sometimes it seems like it. I would appreciate your opinion for the best program for organizing my files on the computer. I can’t seem to find something that will permit captioning, date recording and tagging. I often wonder how the NGS organizes their collection which must numer in the millions. Thanks

My answer after the jump…

Hiya. First, I don’t have 10,000 photographs either–Lightroom shows I have 29,089. Of course, I delete most of the pictures I take, so I’ve probably taken 100k+.

On to the question–how to organize pictures. I use Adobe Lightroom, which is fantastic. It actually makes you a better photographer by helping to find your best pictures and quickly do basic editing on your pictures. It’s also perfect for stock photographers like myself, because it supports tagging, titles, and captions, which different stock agencies use to help buyers find pictures. Here’s the rub: Lightroom costs $300. Here’s a video introduction of Lightroom:

If you’re not blown away by the $300 price tag, download the free Lightroom trial and see if it’s worth it.

If you’d like something free, but not quiet as powerful, check out Google Picasa. It’ll let you set captions, tags, etc. Date Recording is generally done by your camera, assuming you have the clock set correctly. Here’s a video demonstration of Picasa:

I also discuss managing pictures (including naming and tagging and such) using the tools built-in to Windows 7 in my video tutorial.

Let me know what you decide!

2 Responses to “Software for Organizing, Tagging, and Captioning Photographs”

  1. John Dangerbrooks says:

    Actually, there is always a middle ground and a good one too. For instance, Adobe Photoshop Elements is quite a good photo organizer.

    In addition, there are good and famous photo organizing tools like ACDSee (Good) and Zoner Photo Studio (Excellent).

    Now, there is also the free open-source XnView (Excellent). Windows Live Photo Gallery (WARNING!) is also another free option from which I advise people to run away.

  2. Dan says:

    @John Dangerbrooks XnView is not OSS at this time

    Good organizers seem hard to find. I am on Linux and use RAW images. All of these are OSS. For editing I always use GIMP and find that works really well. For management and tagging there is the excellent but heavyweight digikam or kphotoalbum. Then on the GTK side we have f-spot. Geeqie (fastest and lightest) is really good also, but still being a little way to go.