How to use Obsidian for image management?

What I’m trying to do

Basically I would like to ask your input on how to manage images in Obsidian properly.
The topic could also be rephrased to:

Is using Obsidian for image management practical and viable?

A possible answer could also be: Don’t use Obsidian for managing images. Use dedicated image management software for that (see "Things I have tried).

In general I would like to be able to add tags and metadata to each image/photo and search the whole image collection for these values. Additionaly, I would also like to see the whole image collection and be able to scroll through it.

Things I have tried

Inside Obsidian:

Creating a note per picture that has the picture embedded and assigning metadata and tags. But this feels clunky somehow.

Looked into dedicated image management software:

  • Adobe Lightroom
  • DigiKam

Google Search:

1 Like

It’s the same like everywhere else: you take the positives and negatives (advantages and disadvantages) and decide for yourself.
If you like to spend time within Obsidian (take your bath in it, take your car for a spin in it, etc.), you’ll strive to find ways to make it work. There are plugins, you can write your own plugins or various scripts, templates for metadata, etc.

You’ll have to live with the fact that TIFF, PSD, RAW etc. file formats will not be embeddable (you can write a script or have it written by Chat-GPT to generate png or jpg miniatures for your notes and then you can use those in DataView queries) and that there is no native metadata support for images (so you’ll need to make your own).
I think you can go for it but it’s possible you’ll start benefiting later rather than sooner so give it time.

If you want use Obsidian for image management, it means essentially you want characterize images as notes. Images already have metadata so you want to access that metadata either one-way or two-way, two-way meaning you want to edit image metadata externally in Obsidian and then convert the changes back to the original image file.

There is a command line tool ExifTool to read/write image metadata. If you run home server, you could easily automate a process that syncs an image folder with Obsidian vault, converting every new image in that folder to md-note and updating any changes between md metadata and image metadata.

The reason you would want to manage images in Obsidian is that you want to use database-like queries to query images. In order this to work, you need a running system that syncs your images with Obsidian. As @gino_m said, not every image will be supported in image embeds in Obsidian. You also want smaller preview pictures for you search results. For image conversion you can use a tool called ImageMagick. So in order your system to work properly, you need to generate preview images for your images.

Well said. Thanks @blue_emperor to you as well for your technical advice!
Also your inputs for handling image metadata and different file formats was an interesting insight for me.

After giving your replies some thought it comes down to the old discussion for me: Do you use one software for everything and accept that you have to shoehorn it into non-intended use cases. Or do you accept the struggle of using multiple pieces of software / apps and use each app for the exact use case it’s designed for.

That in addition to me not being too tech savvy and me lacking the ability to code my own scripts and plugins leads me to prefer using a dedicated image management software instead of bloating up Obsidian.

:heavy_check_mark: So that actually closes my question successfully.

Just as a follow-up: Does anybody have suggestions for image management software?

Most of use would probably like to use Obsidian for everything, but the right tool for the job and so on.

I’ve heard Eagle mentioned a few times by Obsidian folks, but I’m still using Lightroom myself.

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