Tracking Your Photos: The Next Step?

by David Miller

My last post describes how I started (loosely) keeping track of where my photos end up. For example, my photos published in Fast Forward have the “Fast Forward” keyword applied to them through my “Exported” keyword set. However, I’d like to add a little more detail to this process: I want to keep track of exactly where my photos are published by cataloging their URLs on the web and the print publication’s name & issue number when printed.

My first idea was to store the information in the “Large Caption” view in the Metadata list, thinking that it was separate from the plain ol’ IPTC Caption field. However, it turns out they’re one and the same: the former is enlarged to make verbose captions easier to enter and edit than in the teeny tiny text field provided in the regular IPTC metadata view. And unfortunately the caption field is important enough that I can’t clutter it up with URLs and such.

And there aren’t really any other places to hang extra metadata on. I don’t see keywords as a valid solution, as I don’t want to clutter up my dictionary with URLs and other information that will only be used once; applying the keyword “” seems wrong to me (although it would get the job done).

So for now I’m using an external application to keep track of this information. I’m crossing my fingers that future versions of Lightroom will allow flexible & customizable metadata fields that can be defined by the photographer. And providing one free-form notes field in which photographers can jot down random ramblings for each photo would be a blessing. Here’s to hoping that something along these lines is coming down the pipe in a future update.

Viva Lightroom updates!


Dmitri Maximovich
2007-12-05 10:07:39
Very similar problem exists in photo sharing sites. For example Flickr addressed it with so called 'Machine tags' in addition to just regular tags (
They are intended exactly for the purpose of storing various technical information about photo and on the same time not cluttering regular tags 'namespace'. In my experience this approach seems to work very well.

Other photo sharing sites (e.g. smugmug) who doesn't have this separation indeed have their tag dictionaries cluttered with technical tags as users have no other means of storing such kind of data.

Btw, how much photos do you have in your Lightroom library? I'd love to use Lightroom as a photo cataloging software but a bit concerned with performance aspect, which seems to be better in 1.3 but I'm not sure how it would scale for the really large catalogs. I have just over 50Gb of photos and it's not exactly fast.

2007-12-05 10:54:41
There are so many IPTC and other fields available that I'm surprised you can't find one that you're not using?
Mark Sirota
2007-12-05 13:13:28
The closest IPTC field is probably JobID. Quoting the IPTC Core Specification:

"Description: Number or identifier for the purpose of improved workflow handling. This ID should be added by the creator or provider for transmission and routing purposes only and should have no significance for archiving.

Note(s): Note: As this identifier references a job of the receiver's workflow it has first to be issued by the receiver, then be transmitted to the creator or provider of the news object and finally added by him to this field."