Andy Bell Photography

Photo Search – Using Metadata to avoid frustration

Photo Search – Using Metadata

My previous article and video showed the best way to enter metadata and showed how you’d benefit from it now and later on.

This article shows how to search for photos using the metadata and which tools to use.

The search dilemma

We’ve all been there. You’re certain you have a picture of location X or person Y but where is it? Finding it might be a total nightmare. But if you’ve entered some metadata – a location, a person’s name, a keyword describing your image, then finding it should be as simple as typing a few words.

Sadly, some tools let you down here. Even Lightroom has limitations with its searches, and tools like DXO Photo Lab, Luminar AI and even Exposure X5/X6 have weaknesses that mean you might not find your images…

Rather than go into the details of these tools’ shortcomings, you can see them in the video below…

Photo Search Tools compared

Digital Photo Guardian – The Ultimate Photo Search tool

Nothing teaches better than hindsight, and we wrote DPG after years of experience with the tools mentioned above. DPG has a truly unique feature:

It can search on ANY metadata field and YOU don’t need to remember which field you put the info in.

For example, you may have put a location in:

  • The Locations Shown metadata item
  • A keyword
  • The title/description
  • The wrong field


DPG searches everything for the value(s) you enter. All you need to remember is the thing you’re looking for – the name, the place, the object…

How does it do that, when the others cannot? As Doctor Who would say: ‘because we are brilliant…’ LOL. But seriously, we designed the DPG database systematically. We tested it again and again. It went through several design iterations before it was optimal.

The challenge was immense. We needed ultimate flexibility without a huge performance hit. Loading the metadata into the catalogue needed to be fast. We’d like to make it faster, as the bulk metadata load that happens when you first run DPG still feels sluggish. However, once it’s done the benefits are self evident.

DPG Photo Search In Action

Quick Search

Can you remember one word that describes your picture? Great! Enter that word in DPG’s Quick Search box and it will find ALL the images that have that word in:

  • Their filename
  • A keyword
  • Any metadata item

Here’s a snippet of quick search in action, looking for a model release ID:

Photo Search – DPG Quick Search

DPG’s Quick Search is great but sometimes you need more. This is where Full Search Comes in.

DPG’s search is always over your entire image collection. Lightroom requires you to go to the folder/collection you think the image is in and then filter it. That’s limited. Too limited. DPG doesn’t care which folder you are currently browsing. Its search searches everything. You can still filter the current view, but that is not a search.

DPG Full Photo Search

DPG’s full search is limitless. As the screenshot shows, you can search on every detail about the image or any combination of items. The Keywords box targets metadata keywords whereas the Metadata box searches on any metadata item. If you don’t want to search on a value, just leave it blank.

DPG saves search definitions as Smart Collections, and any image that you add to your collection that meets your search criteria is added to the smart collection. Automatically.

Search Speed

DPG’s search is fast, often rapid. Complicated searches, of course, take longer. But if DPG finds your image, then surely that was worth the wait?

Keyword and metadata searches are instantaneous, but those that include a date range take a little longer. One excellent feature of DPG’s Full Photo Search is the Test button. It reports how many images are in the search, without displaying them. Displaying the photos often takes longer than the search, and it’s good to know how many images will be found by your search. If you are looking for just a few images and the Test button says 1,000, then you know you need to change your search.

Metadata Photo Searches – You need them

If you take the trouble to enter metadata, you will not regret it. It’s a great feeling knowing that you can find that treasured image, even if you’ve put it in the wrong folder. But you need the tools to find it.

DPG is the ultimate photo search tool. If the metadata contains the search value, DPG will find it. Lightroom cannot say that. DPG doesn’t do everything that Lightroom does. It’s not a RAW processor. It is not an image editor. It is a photo manager. It integrates with the tools you use. If you are looking to get away from Lightroom, then it is the ideal choice of photo manager. Its search alone is worth the cost, and it does so much more.

Try Digital Photo Guardian

Download a trial copy of Digital Photo Guardian from AB Photo Tools!

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