2 Reversed order of first two sentences so I'm not "burying the lead"
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I use Aperture (which is Mac-only), but Lightroom has similar capabilities.

The key is adding some specific tags every time you import.

I use Aperture (which is Mac-only,) but Lightroom has similar capabilities, as does iphoto.

What you need to tag depends on what you shoot, and what you think you might be looking for someday, but this works for me:

  • The people in the pictures. I use Apple's "Faces" feature to tag people in the pictures (sometimes it recognizes them itself). This is key for me, so I can then pull up pics of my Mom, with me, but not with my brother, for example.
  • The place the pictures were taken. Again, Aperture has a nice, pre-defined "places" tag that can read any associated GPS data, but you can also just manually add tags for this: (NYC, Our Lake House, Oz, whatever.)
  • An event name. New Years 2008, Tom's 30th Birthday, Walking in NYC Mar 2010, etc.
  • Any relevent themes or types you might look for someday. This one's optional, but if you sometimes want to find a picture of a flower, or animals, or you generally shoot in ways that are thematically bucketed, this can save some time.

I use Aperture (which is Mac-only), but Lightroom has similar capabilities.

The key is adding some specific tags every time you import.

What you need depends on what you shoot, and what you think you might be looking for someday, but this works for me:

  • The people in the pictures. I use Apple's "Faces" feature to tag people in the pictures (sometimes it recognizes them itself). This is key for me, so I can then pull up pics of my Mom, with me, but not with my brother, for example.
  • The place the pictures were taken. Again, Aperture has a nice, pre-defined "places" tag that can read any associated GPS data, but you can also just manually add tags for this: (NYC, Our Lake House, Oz, whatever.)
  • An event name. New Years 2008, Tom's 30th Birthday, Walking in NYC Mar 2010, etc.
  • Any relevent themes or types you might look for someday. This one's optional, but if you sometimes want to find a picture of a flower, or animals, or you generally shoot in ways that are thematically bucketed, this can save some time.

The key is adding some specific tags every time you import.

I use Aperture (which is Mac-only,) but Lightroom has similar capabilities, as does iphoto.

What you need to tag depends on what you shoot, and what you think you might be looking for someday, but this works for me:

  • The people in the pictures. I use Apple's "Faces" feature to tag people in the pictures (sometimes it recognizes them itself). This is key for me, so I can then pull up pics of my Mom, with me, but not with my brother, for example.
  • The place the pictures were taken. Again, Aperture has a nice, pre-defined "places" tag that can read any associated GPS data, but you can also just manually add tags for this: (NYC, Our Lake House, Oz, whatever.)
  • An event name. New Years 2008, Tom's 30th Birthday, Walking in NYC Mar 2010, etc.
  • Any relevent themes or types you might look for someday. This one's optional, but if you sometimes want to find a picture of a flower, or animals, or you generally shoot in ways that are thematically bucketed, this can save some time.
1
source | link

I use Aperture (which is Mac-only), but Lightroom has similar capabilities.

The key is adding some specific tags every time you import.

What you need depends on what you shoot, and what you think you might be looking for someday, but this works for me:

  • The people in the pictures. I use Apple's "Faces" feature to tag people in the pictures (sometimes it recognizes them itself). This is key for me, so I can then pull up pics of my Mom, with me, but not with my brother, for example.
  • The place the pictures were taken. Again, Aperture has a nice, pre-defined "places" tag that can read any associated GPS data, but you can also just manually add tags for this: (NYC, Our Lake House, Oz, whatever.)
  • An event name. New Years 2008, Tom's 30th Birthday, Walking in NYC Mar 2010, etc.
  • Any relevent themes or types you might look for someday. This one's optional, but if you sometimes want to find a picture of a flower, or animals, or you generally shoot in ways that are thematically bucketed, this can save some time.