I've never found a good way to keep track of digital photos that people have sent to me, or that I might download, and I want to keep for personal interest. I expect there are good industry specific tools for work use.

Do any of the digital asset management applications (e.g. Digikam, Shotwell, Lightroom, Capture 1) have good ways to do this? I haven't found anything in the first two that seems designed to track who each picture was taken by or where it came from, and make it easy to find photos by a photographer - they seem to assume that all photos are taken by the main user of the application. I'm imagining something a bit like Rhythmbox or iTunes, but for photos instead of music.

Are there good ways to do this that don't rely on a DAM application?

  • \$\begingroup\$ "I expect there are good industry specific tools for work use." As far as I am aware, pretty much all of them use DAM in one form or another. Why do you want to avoid using DAM applications? For that matter, the way music apps work is very similar. They read tags (Artist, composer, album, genre, etc.) and build a database/library to enable sorting songs based on different tags. Assuming all metadata is intact (an unrealistic assumption since many web based apps strip almost all metadata, including author, copywrite, etc. from the EXIF and IPTC fields), most professional DAMs will use IPTC... \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Mar 27, 2021 at 15:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ ... info to sort images by author and/or owner. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Mar 27, 2021 at 15:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MichaelC I don't necessarily want to avoid using a DAM. I only have experience with open source DAMs and they seemed to be built for a photographer building a collection of their own work. \$\endgroup\$
    – bdsl
    Commented Mar 28, 2021 at 11:13

1 Answer 1


Yes, assets from different source are in fact quite well to handle. I use Lightroom Classic and hence will only discuss this tool in my answer. (Beware: there are 2 versions, Lightroom and Lightroom Classic - the latter having more features).

These features help me how to manage assets from different sources:

  • metadata (esp. the IPTC Contact section with the Creator, Website, E-Mail fields to keep track of the source and also the Copyright section)
  • colour labels
  • library filters
  • smart collections

I only import photos from one source at a time. I use metadata presets for different creators whose photos I import regularly. Otherwise, I just input what's needed in the metadata fields later (after import).

For every photo that is not mine, I use a colour label that is visible in the library as a background colour behind the photo thumbnail which makes them stand out. This is useful to remind me that I cannot publish them without permission. Additionally, the colour label can be used to filter easily between my work and that of others (the colour label filters are in the attribute tab of the library filters, which can be found above the gallery view).

The library filters allow you to only show photos based on certain criteria, e.g. only those from specific persons, websites, etc. - whatever has been written to the metadata.

Finally you can create smart collections that show only those photos that fulfill a number of rules that you have defined.

P.S. Another way to separate assets is to use multiple catalogs. However, this is more complicated to handle in most cases, because Lightroom can open only one catalog at a time.


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