Photo organizing is a chore. It’s probably the least favorite part of the photographer’s workflow, but arguably one of the most important. It’s important because of the need to be able to retrieve images at a later date—and that need drives the importance (and the benefits) of good organization.
How many times have you gone to look for an image but forgot exactly where you were when you shot it, or even when you shot it, and unfortunately the subject was not something you used as a keyword…so you just start scrolling through images hoping to stumble upon it.
My recommendation to you, and it’s from personal experience, is to use keywords as part of your organizing, and don’t be stingy with them. Most photo organizing software allows you to “tag” images with keywords that can later be used as criteria for finding images. It’s tempting to keep keywords at a minimum, but I’ve learned that the more key words you use, the greater your chances of finding a particular image later. Don’t write paragraphs and be so specific with keywords that you’re describing details of a single image, but rather use enough keywords so that your searches will narrow down to retrieve a group of 50-100 images that would include the one you’re looking for.
Think of keywords along the lines of who, what, when, where, and why (the “5-Ws”). If you do that, you will greatly increase your chances of finding what you want, quickly. I was recently looking for this image of a tractor that I shot. Only because I remembered where I took the image, was it relatively easy to find—but memory is not a good system when you have as many images as I do. Had I used more keywords at the time of downloading, I would have been able to quickly find the image, spending less time searching, and more time on the project that I was working on.
So I would encourage that you make it a priority in your workflow to tag your images with keywords immediately after downloading. I've had really good success now using the “5-Ws”—if you have another system that you’re using and getting good results from, drop me a line and share how it's working.