Will Keywording be Obsolete?


Today’s Question: Do you think that the use of keywords in Lightroom Classic will eventually be replaced by Adobe Sensei, or some other form of AI [artificial intelligence]? The cloud-based version of Lightroom is already using Sensei to find photos.

Tim’s Quick Answer: Given enough time, I would say that image analysis will most certainly replace most basic keywording tasks. I assume that will apply to a future version of Lightroom Classic, among other software.

More Detail: The cloud-based version of Adobe Lightroom, along with the Adobe Photoshop Elements Organizer, already include search based on image analysis. In other words, the software can analyze your photos to the point that if you search for the word “airplane”, you’ll see search results that should include photos of airplanes (assuming you have any such photos).

Of course, you’ll also likely find that the search results include photos that don’t actually include the subject you were searching for. The arrangement of shapes in the photo may have simply resembled the subject you were searching for, tricking the image analysis into thinking the photo was something it wasn’t.

With time, image analysis technology will improve. That will mean greater accuracy for search results, as well as a much wider range of terms that can be searched for. It would be helpful, for example, to be able to search based on concepts, beyond just the names of physical objects that appear in your photos.

The only real question is how long it will take for technology to get to the point that image analysis can effectively replace the need to add keywords to photos.

That said, there would likely be terms you would still want to add as keywords to your photos. Those might include keywords that relate to abstract concepts, for example, or perhaps keywords that indicate a photo has been used in a particular project.

The point is that keywording will surely become more obsolete in the future. The only questions relate to how soon, and to what extent you can reduce the number of keywords you might add to a photo.

You can view a recording of the webinar presentation I gave on the subject of keywording photos on my Tim Grey TV channel on YouTube here: