Tagging images isn’t difficult. It’s not even that time-consuming. You just need the right software. Something that works thoroughly and efficiently in batch-mode if you want it to.
The most common fields to add information to are: Caption, Caption Writer(s), Keywords, Object Name, City, Location, State, Country, Photographer, Title, Credit, Source, Copyright.
Other fields applied to the XMP data only include: Copyright URL, Contact Address, Contact City, Contact State, Contact ZIP, Contact Country, Contact Email(s), Contact Phone, Contact Web URL(s).
That should pretty well cover anything you could say about an image. The more the merrier.
Even if some of this information is in your file-names, you can also have it permanently attached to your photos in these fields. File-names change. The embedded information does not. Unless you or someone else takes it out. But why would you do that?
Photo Mechanic: (free trial)
Next to each field is a drop-down box. As you enter data you can also choose to add it to the list so you can easily re-use it instead of re-typing every time. It also keeps your data consistent because you’re not making spelling mistakes.
You can save and export lists that are focused toward a particular purpose. For instance, the list below was created when I was adding Locations for census records. When I’m finished with that, I may import back the list I made for adding cemeteries. It’s not a requirement, it’s just intended to make things simpler.
I find swapping lists of keywords particularly useful. I have one for the members of my immediate family so I can quickly tag their photos as they’re sent to me. If I had it combined in the same list as my ancestors it would be way too long. So I have separate ones for them.
It’s a good idea to have a consistent way of creating keywords and locations so you can search them later and know you’re finding what you’re looking for. If you have a person’s name in different formats (Bill and Wm for instance) you’re not going to find them all. Lists help to keep things consistent.
GeoSetter does the same thing. Drop-down boxes for lists as you please.
You can select multiple thumbnails and tag them at once.
If whatever way you tag images, you can also search them. Object Name=death certificate, for instance. So can someone else. That’s the beauty of it. If you send your photos to someone all the information goes with them.
GeoSetter has a more complex search engine where you search multiple fields at once with various parameters; contains, does not contain, equals, etc.
XnView is also free and has similar options.
If you’re keeping track of your photo information in Microsoft Excel, consider an alternative.