For the past 15 years or so I’ve been helping people organize, backup and print their photographs. And the one thing that has been a challenge for almost everyone (including me!) is keywording. It’s just not a lot of fun (for most people) to go through thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of images and videos and assign appropriate keywords to them. But keywording images and videos can pay huge dividends in the long run because having a collection with good keywords means that you can more easily find images for personal projects, client work and stock photography licensing.
Face recognition inside of Lightroom and other programs has helped quite a bit, but it’s far from perfect. And of course, not every photo has a recognizable person in it, so we have been faced with a problem in need of a solution. Until now.
The solution I’m referring to is a Lightroom Classic CC plug-in called Excire Search. And it does more than just automatically create keywords.
What it Does
Excire Search works via a Lightroom plug-in to “initialize” or look through your image collection one image at a time so that it can then use the image information to both create keywords and allow for creative searches by keyword or even via a sample image uploaded from your computer. It can initialize 10,000-20,000 images per hour (according to the software’s developer), but it depends on your system and whether you have already created Smart Previews. I didn’t time the process exactly, but Excire Search Pro initialized just over 400,000 images in my catalog on a MacBook Pro over a period of 4-6 days (I stopped the process a few times to take my computer with me, and I had very few Smart Previews in my catalog before starting the process). While it was initializing, I was still able to work on my computer and inside Lightroom. You can run a new initialization at any time, and it will quickly recognize which photos have already been initialized.
In case you’d like a quick look at how good the automatic keywording can be, I was very impressed by what the software came up with for one of my photos that included hot air balloons (click on the image to see the keywords much larger):
Installing the Excire Search Plug-in, setting preferences and starting the initialization process takes just a few minutes, but it can be a bit confusing. After downloading the plug-in (it’s available for Mac and Windows), I would recommend viewing the following videos for step-by-step instructions. I’ve also included a screen shot of the main settings below:
Caption: I chose to use the Fast initialization option because of the size of my catalog, but you might choose to uncheck that box if you make a lot of edits (especially if you convert a lot of images to black and white without first making Virtual Copies). Because I don’t use many stacks (stacks are very useful if you shoot a lot of panoramas in sections or multi-image HDRs), I unchecked the third box. And because I have generated a lot of Smart Previews over the years, I chose to “Prefer” them when initializing because the makers of the application say that can speed up the initialization process.
As you can see in the above video, searching by example photo is like magic! You just choose an image from your library (or an external image), then navigate to Library>Plug-in Extras>Search by Example Photo (or choose one of the other two Search by Example Photo options). Choosing Search by Example Photo with Previous will use the Previous Settings, such as how many results to display and whether to reference the example photo’s content or color. You can also search by Keyword or for Faces. In case you are wondering what “Update Photos” means (it’s the last item on the list under Excire Search), if you make large color or density changes (or convert images to black and white), you may want to choose the photos on which you made those edits and select “Update Photos.” The Excire Search engine will then look at those photos again and create new keywords.
The Faces dialog box is so incredible to me. You can choose from a wide variety of different criteria, including the number of faces, an age range, male/female, and even whether or not people are smiling. I’ve included a screen shot below, and in my testing, it was extremely good at showing me images that closely matched what I requested (click on the image below to see the dialog box much larger). That being said, it was better at distinguishing between male and female faces for adults compared with children, which is very understandable (even the iPhone X’s face detection is less accurate with children’s faces compared with adult faces).
Pricing, Language and Availability (Plus a Special Offer for Our Readers)
Excire Search is available in two configurations: Excire Search (US $69) and Excire Search Pro (US $119). The plug-ins are identical except for the fact that Excire Search Pro draws from a larger group of keywords (about 500 vs. 125), and it also offers the ability to transfer keywords (individually or in bulk) that it creates into the Keyword List inside of a Lightroom catalog. For my workflow, the ability to transfer keywords is essential, so I am using Excire Search Pro.
Currently, the software is available in English and German. If you’d like to test out Excire Search or Excire Search Pro, visit this page for a free, fully functional 15 day trial. Also, if you decide to purchase Excire Search Pro, the company created a special 10% discount code for my readers: Just enter “AndrewPro10” (no quotes) at checkout.
I also noticed this text from the company’s site re: giving back: “A small portion of every purchased Excire Search download will be held in a special fund for support to a variety of nonprofits in the United States market. We’ll be developing our own Giving Back Advisory Board who will help us decide each year on a different charity needing more support.”
It’s difficult to express how happy I am with Excire Search Pro. It was like someone out there was listening to my prayers. (turns out it was a lot of very smart engineers!). I was told that the company is always doing research and working on how they can improve the software, and I look forward to seeing how it develops over time.
One of the best things about the internet and blogs is that I can reference other articles about Excire Search that I found useful. One review of Excire search that’s at the top of my list is by Bryan Esler that appeared on the excellent photo website: photofocus.com. You can read his review here. I’ve also had the honor of having a number of my articles published on the site over the years. There’s also a comprehensive article by the people who make Excire Search on the topic of speed and accuracy with different technologies that automatically generate keywords. You can find that article here.
If you’d like to test out Excire Search or Excire Search Pro, visit this page for a free, fully functional 15 day trial. And if you like it and decide to purchase the plug-in, there’s a special 10% discount code for our readers: Just enter “AndrewPro10” (no quotes) at checkout.
(Full Disclosure: Apart from being provided a license code for Excire Search Pro, I was not compensated in any way for writing this article. Please note that this article may contain affiliate links to the Excire Search website, which means that I may be compensated if a purchase is made after clicking through or by using a promo code. If you would prefer not to use my links, just visit your favorite search engine and type in: “Excire Search.”
Hello! I’m excited to announce that I will be exhibiting under my new consulting company name, Andrew Darlow’s WorkflowSchool.com, at the PhotoPlus Expo 2017 in New York City next week from Thursday, 10/26 to Saturday, 10/28. If you haven’t visited the show before, it’s the largest photography trade show in North America, and it’s filled with photo- and video-related gear, free expo floor talks, model and still-life photo opportunities, and much more. I should also note that even if you can’t attend the show, you can sign up for updates on the show site (link is on the bottom right) to get news updates and special offers from PDN (Photo District News) and photo-related companies.
I’ve had the honor to speak at the show in the past on the topics of Lightroom and Inkjet Printing, and I thought this year would be a perfect opportunity for me to have a booth at the show so that I could answer any questions about the content in my new book, Focus and Filter (Ulysses Press), and let people know about how I might be able to help them with their workflow, from capture to print.
With that, I have two items to share with you below. The first is a link to a free three-day trade show pass and 15% off the cost of a 1,3, or 4 day Conference Pass. However, the Conference Pass is completely optional. I’ve found the paid conference seminars to be excellent, but there are many educational opportunities available right on the show floor:
Click here for a link to a 3-DAY TRADE SHOW PASS
and the second is a link to set up a five minute quick meeting with me at my booth (#673). I have been to many trade shows, and it’s easy to start speaking with one person and have others waiting to talk to the same person. Instead, I decided to set up a system with more than 50 available times so that I could meet with a lot of people at the show. Feel free to bring a copy of any of my books if you’d like me to sign them…if you don’t mind the value of them possibly going down , and I’ll have copies of Focus and Filter available at the show for purchase.
Click here to schedule a FREE 5 MINUTE MEETING with me at the show. Everyone who meets with me will receive a WorkflowSchool.com backpack and some other goodies that I think you will really like. If you schedule a meeting, there is one question on the signup form re: whether you would like to purchase a copy of Focus and Filter at the show, so that I know about how many copies to bring.
Even if you decide not to meet with me at the show, or if the times are not good for you, please stop by Booth #673, and I may be free to chat. An assistant or I will be giving away empty sandbags and info from Focus and Filter on how to easily fill them. I decided to give away hundreds of sandbags at the show because I wanted to shed some light on the subject of using sandbags (especially when using light stands outside or to support backdrops). I’ve seen what can happen if sandbags are not used, and it can be especially dangerous if there are pets or children around.
And this year, for the first time, the PhotoPlus Expo will be co-located with the NYVR Expo. Your Expo pass allows you to see what they have on their show floor (Friday and Saturday are their trade show days). Feel free to share this post and/or the link to register for a free pass with your friends or family. Here’s a link to the show’s policies, including minimum age requirements for attendees.
If you’d like to see my Show Report from last year’s Expo, visit this page.
The PhotoPlus Expo only comes around once a year, and I hope to see you there!
All the best,
P.S. If you’d like to download a PDF sample from Focus and Filter, which includes the Table of Contents and some tips from the book, visit this page.
P.P.S. I also welcome you to join any of our three Meetup Groups if you would like to be invited to attend other events like photo walks, workshops, etc. in the future.
P.P.P.S. If you don’t receive my ImagingBuffet.com newsletter updates and would like to receive them, as well as some Lightroom and workflow videos, you can sign up here.
If you like looking at art (and/or if you are a collector looking for something to add to your walls or collection), I think you will love Artexpo and the two other shows being hosted under the same roof from 4/21-24, 2017 at Pier 94 in New York City. The other two shows I just mentioned are named [solo] and [photo solo], and what I like most about the “solo” shows is that most of the people who exhibit there are independent artists showing new work, or work that has yet to be exhibited publicly. Many of the artists who exhibit in the Artexpo show are also independent artists, but many exhibitors are galleries who represent a number of different artists. I also noticed that a photo lab (Bay Photo Lab), will be exhibiting in Booth F331. Based on previous show floor layouts, you may not really notice when you move from one show to another.
Here is an overview from the Artexpo website that describes the Artexpo portion of the show:
Each year thousands of art industry insiders flock to Artexpo New York in search of the art and artists that will shape trends in galleries worldwide. Hosting more than 25,000 avid art enthusiasts annually, we’re the largest international gathering of qualified trade buyers—including gallery owners and managers, art dealers, interior designers, architects, corporate art buyers and art & framing retailers.
Just be sure to wear comfortable shoes, because the event is HUGE!
For more information and to register, visit the Artexpo website HERE.