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I have a bunch of unorganized scanned family photos. I want to add metadata to make them more searchable.

I thought I'd mostly use the IPTC keyword field (because I don't have a need for well-written sentences like I think the description field is meant for), but I do want to include pretty specific terms — sometimes relevant only to single photos — so I can later search for and find certain photos quickly. On the other hand, I'd like to develop a controlled vocabulary of keywords for recurring subjects. So, is it good practice to put both controlled vocabulary terms AND more specific one-off terms in the keywords field?

Alternatively, is it bad practice to "keyword stuff" the description field with non-sentence terms to aid search-ability (while keeping the keywords field limited to the controlled vocabulary)? This approach seems like it would be better for navigating using a keyword list that many programs offer, since you wouldn't have thousands of keywords, while still allowing you to find photos by searching for more specific terms you included in the description field.

It feels like there should be a metadata field "in between" keywords and descriptions; i.e., a "search terms" field that wouldn't show up in keyword lists to browse by, but also wouldn't junk up a nicely written description.

I know people say "it's up to you" to choose how to use these fields... But I'm curious what others do, and what you find to be the pros & cons of different approaches.

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