Library of Memories 3: Digital Category Drawers

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

For more long term storage, Stacy Julian takes her photos out of her storage binders and puts them in category drawers.The next step in my implementation of the Library of Memories is to create digital category drawers.

In digital category drawers give you a different way of searching on your photos. The digital storage albums we created allow you to search by date, but this isn't always the way you want to scrapbook your photos. What if you want to find all the photos of your kids swimming, or all the photos of you kids with Grandpa. This is where the category drawers are particularly powerful. And the advantage to doing this digitally is that a photo can reside in more than one category, whereas a physical photo can only live in one category (although it can be moved around).

To set up my digital category drawers, I used Photoshop Elements 6 Keyword tags. I used these because (for the most part) I have already keyworded my photos and it was a simple process to select an existing tag and move it around in a hierarchical structure, rename it or combine it with another tag.

I usually keyword my photos as I import them of the camera (as you can do them in batches). For example, Christmas photos might be tagged with Winter, Christmas, home on import. This speeds up the process of tagging tremendously. Then I would go through and individually tag and rate them. I always try to do this at the time of import as it doesn't take long to do then but if you let the number of photos build up it seems to take forever and is one of those tasks you tend to put off.

If you don't want to use PSE6, then what you need to make sure of is that your tagging or categorizing program will allow you to make hierarchical lists of tags. It is also advantageous if you can convert a keyword to a category (you put keywords inside the category) if you later discovered you wanted to subdivide it further.

I ruled out using Creative Memories Memory Manager program because it would not convert a folder to a sort box. The other reason I ruled out Memory Manager is that it wouldn't read my already existing ITPC keyword tags. ITPC is an industry standard that allows keywords to be embedded directly in jpg, psd, tiff files allowing them to be read by any ITPC compatible program.

I ruled out ACDSee 10 for a similar reason, it won't allow its categories to be written to the ITPC keyword field (ACDSee Pro 2 will do this, as will PSE6).

Other alternative programs that will work include Lightroom and Bridge.

This is the top and middle level structure I used. Each bulleted sub-category has individual tags inside it (for example, Grandparents contains Grandma, Grandpa, Grandad, Nanna).


  • Family
  • Friends
  • Grandparents

  • Around Town
  • Far Away
  • Home


  • Accomplishments
  • Everyday Life
  • Seasons and Colors
  • Special Days
  • Sports & Recreation

  • All in the Family
  • Family Relationships
  • Personality

And this is what it actually looks like in PSE6.

To add a category, sub-category or keyword tag in PSE6, simply click on the green plus "+" sign shown in the image above. You can also move tags around in the structure by click and dragging them.

To search on a particular tag, click in the empty box on the left of the tag name. A pair of binoculars will appear indicating that you are currently searching on that tag.

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