Image library classification

Classification of works in a library serves two purposes. The first is to make it easier for your audience to search for specific works by theme or subject, the second is to make it easier for the artist to locate the masters from within an archive of works.

Once the works are digitised into media files, (in the case of digital art and photography that happens straight away.) the initial or original digital file is considered as the digital negative in photography. For digital graphics and other digitised visual art forms, this first digitised image becomes the master file.

With digital photography, the original file—out of the camera, is the digital negative. It should be copied to produce a master copy and the original digital negative filed away in an archive.

So for every job there is the original and a working master. The originals, or digital negatives, are seldom accessed again. All print copies and digital reworks are done from the master files. It should be noted that once a file name is given to the original/digital negative files, that name must carry through to all incarnations of it. Adding a suffix such as “_v2” to the original name to identify the incarnation as variant 2 for instance. This will be required where a range of masters with variances are produced through bitmapped editing in such applications as Photoshop, from the same digital negative.

However in digital photography, often a master is created as a composite of several digital negatives. You could duplicate the composite master making one copy the new digital negative, giving them both the same names but adding “_neg” to the file name of the designated digital negative. eg; filename_neg.tiff (.psd, .dng…what ever)

It is easy to locate files if you know the file name. But sometimes we need to locate a file from a description. This is where keyword tags come in. Many applications use the terminology “tag/tagging”. The tag words may become “Keywords” in the media file metadata, or they may just remain associated with the filename in the resource applications database.

Adding obvious keywords or tags to a file is highly recommended. Most computer operating systems have a search feature that will search for matches within a file’s metadata, not just its file name.

Most online repositories including Redbubble provide search features and have tagging functionality. On Redbubble this is found in the “Add New Work” and “Manage Portfolio” sections. Google uses these tags in its search engine optimisation algorithm as well. I can’t be too certains as to whether these tags actually get written to the keyword area of the files metadata, or are just associated with the file in the resource application database.

Regardless, files can be located by file name and keyword tags. However viewers often have a need to find visual works that conform to a theme, or a subject they have in mind. It could be as varied as the weather. Some may seek products, images and artworks that portray an emotion or state, others a subject defined through taxonomy. Some may require a theme, like Fantasy, magic and science fiction.

The good news is that these can be added as keyword tags, but it is advised to also add the words “Emotion” or “State” after the emotion or state being described. For instance, someone crying may be tagged as sad emotion, someone looking scared may be tagged as scared state. A search on “sad” will find the tag regardless of the fact it is a two-part keyword;“sad emotion”. You may have to research the range of emotions and states, and their differences for yourself.

A library classification system I use sorts works into about eight primary classifications. First, is the work or image “reality”, “art” or “fantasy”. I tend to group art and fantasy together at the primary level of classification.

Next I take the “reality” ones and further classify them as “Nature/natural environment” or “human adapted environment/human world images”.

I don’t bother sub-categorising nature, but the human world is diverse. Basically I sort them as either “People & Society”, “environment”, or “technology and commercial products”.

I define technology as being mobile or portable. Fixed civil structures, infrastructure, architecture and interiors come under humanised environment.

What is left are products of the commercial world that are not considered as technology and journalistic themes. Food and Beverage art belongs in the commercial world products. I consider regional images or artworks as collections gathered from their primary classifications. Basically regional works are identified by keyword tags, not file categories.

In summary my work could be grouped by:
1 Nature collection
2 Journalistic collection
3 Art & Fantasy collection
4 People & Society collection
5 Technology—mobile or portable
6 Commercial world products
7 Interiors & Furnishings
8 Humanised Environments

It could also be grouped by media type:
*Photography
*Bitmapped art
*Vector graphics
*Hand crafted art
*Mixed media—commercial art

Whether it is grouped by theme or media type is up to you, but it can always be retrieved as collections based on keyword tag searching.

Happy cataloging everybody…

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