Image Tagging

As you begin to shoot more images, it becomes harder to seek out and find that killer shot you know you’ve taken, but can’t locate. This is when good tagging practice is integral to workflow and ensures rapid recall of images when you need them. The more you tag the more used to it you’ll become and figure out a system that works best for you, but also to build up numerous tags to make future tagging less time-consuming.

In Photoshop Elements 8, there are a variety of processes to help you tag, star and rate photos. The latter options are somewhat cruder and ideal for initial quick edits on the fly. Prior to this phase, however, all your images should be tagged, be they good, bad, ugly or otherwise – even images you don’t think you’ll ever use may come in handy in the future. Tags can be any words that you wish, though should include both broad generic terms as well as being more specific. For example, when reviewing all your pictures from a holiday in Nice, every photo could be tagged with ‘holiday’, ‘Nice’ and any other general tags that may be of personal value. Next, tags concerning technical terminologies should also be considered – ‘shallow depth of field’, ‘blurry’ or similar may come into use should you wish to browse this way in the future. Lastly the specific content of the images is keenly important, where descriptive terms such as ‘mountain’, ‘family’ and other content-specific tags will be of use. Elements 8 even goes an extra step further by not only automatically detecting faces in a scene, but recognising them too. It’s possible to tag names of your friends, family and so forth and, once named, the program will auto-associate the facial characteristics of that person. Similarly, Elements also auto-detects image quality, where out of focus and similar issues are detected and automatically tagged.

The initial trick for keyword tagging is to list as many keywords as possible. Once a large database is added, the likelihood is repeat use of many of the words, which will all be readily available for quick and easy apply to images.

Image Tagging – Creating A Tag

Creating A Tag

Image Tagging - Creating A Tag

To the right of Photoshop Elements‘s Organizer window is a ‘Tag Selected Media’ field in the Keywords Tag panel. In here it is possible to type your tags which will associate to the selected image or multiple images. The ‘plus’ symbol in the panel also offers the ability to make a ‘New Category’ to the existing four presets – People, Places, Events, Other – where your keyworded photos can live for the purpose of easy-to-view breakdowns.

Image Tagging – Tag Cloud

Tag Cloud

Image Tagging - Tag Cloud

The Tag Cloud is the T-symbol with a cloud behind it. When selected, this arranges all the current keywords into one long paragraph, with bolded and larger words for the more popular choices. This arrangement also makes reading and locating tags quicker and easier than otherwise scrolling through the elongated Keyword Tag Hierarchy list. Selecting photos and dragging (but not clicking) the relevant keyword tag will also quick-apply to the selection.

Image Tagging – Retrieving Images

Retrieving Images

Image Tagging - Retrieving Images

Should you not wish to trawl through all the words in the Keyword Tag Hierarchy list or click through the Tag Cloud, the ‘Search’ field to the top left of the screen offers the ability to type in what you’re looking for. Keyword matches then appear in a drop list below and all relevant photos are shown for easy retrieval. It’s possible to ‘stack’ keywords too, by typing in multiple words side by side for more-refined search results.

Image Tagging – Smart Albums

Smart Albums

Image Tagging - Smart Albums

A Smart Album can have associated keywords or other user-defined rules, with relevant images utomatically falling into the correct album. In the Albums panel to the top right of Elements, click the ‘plus’ symbol and Create Smart Album. Adjust the fields to include desired keywords, for example ‘portrait’ and ‘roof’, and thereafter all appropriate current and future imported images will fall into the album, without the timely cost of manually dragging and arranging images into albums by hand.

Image Tagging – Face Recognition

Face Recognition

Image Tagging - Face RecognitionFind > Find People For Tagging or Ctrl+Shift+P will start Elements 8’s Auto Analyzer. This recognises faces by single, double, small group, large group, close up and long shot. When located by the program you will be prompted to name each face, and facial traits will be ‘remembered’ and auto-recognised when that face next occurs. These face-name keywords are then easily searchable, whether singularly or in multiples, to help in locating singles such as ‘Dave’ or stacked specifics such as ‘me’ and ‘Dave’, for example.

Image Tagging – Going the Extra Mile

Going the Extra Mile

Beyond of Elements’s interior capabilities, other automated tagging types are coming to the fore. Geotagging is one such measure that, with the right GPS-enabled equipment or camera, will mark the location of where a shot is taken. Elements will auto-read geotags, as will many other programs. Not only does this automate the global positioning and often nearest city name into keyword tags, it also has further use – as more third-party programs begin to plug in and use the lat- and longitudinal geotag data in order to display the physical location shot. Microsoft’s Photosynth is one such ongoing example.

Tagging is important for personal use and cataloguing, but it’s also an important workflow process to ensure future-proof integration with new technologies.


Note that the Organizer is only part of Elements 8 for Windows. The Mac version relies on the similar capabilities of Apple iPhoto or Adobe Bridge for browsing and face recognition where applicable.

Creating your own Smart Albums or Albums – whether by date, occasion, or a combination of both – can help divide up your photos and generates a further way of dividing a search when browsing by keywords.

Elements 8’s Auto Analyzer function is in its first generation and, on some occasions, is inaccurate. Double-check through the undesirable tags that it may associate, and check for accuracy.

As well as still images, it’s also possible to tag movie files too.

  1. 1. Image Tagging
  2. 2. Image Tagging - Creating A Tag
  3. 3. Image Tagging - Tag Cloud
  4. 4. Image Tagging - Retrieving Images
  5. 5. Image Tagging - Smart Albums
  6. 6. Image Tagging - Face Recognition
  7. 7. Image Tagging - Going the Extra Mile
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  • Honza

    Polla apo ta paidia pou kuonan akalaisthites bb moutzoures bb me sprays stous toixous ( polles apo tis opoies paideutikate na katharisate ) , mporoun me tin idia anesi na dimioiurgisoun uperoxa grafiti. Zontana paradeigmata tha vrei kaneis stin perioxi ton exarxeion.Protasi mou , an gnorizei kaneis h mporei na erthei se epafi me tetoies omades, na tous kanoume sumaxous mas ston kalopismo tis polis

  • jay

    Sorry, but how can you have an article on tagging photos and not even mention IPTC?!?
    Also, does Elements store the tag info in a database, or embed the info directly within the image?
    For a free IPTC photo tagger I suggest you look at jBrout (