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Putting Alamy image spreadsheet data into Lightroom using exiftool

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Over on the contract thread there was a really useful contribution by Mark Chapman on how to squirt your Alamy data into Lightroom Classic using exiftool. I nearly got it to work but not quite and have spent the morning playing around with it. I wanted to drop a few extra tips in a new topic in case it's useful to anyone, as it would only get lost in the contract talk.


What I wanted to do was get my captions and keywords out of Alamy and put them back into Lightroom. The starting point for what follows is what Mark said here


Contract Change 2021 - Official thread - Page 37 - Stock photography discussion and contributor experience - Alamy


and I have diverged from him at steps 6 and step 11 only.


Step 6:

1. Column 1, as Mark says, needs to be renamed SourceFile and should contain the jpg file name

2. Tags/Supertags: your supertags and tags are in separate columns and are not repeated i.e. supertags do not also appear in the tags column.. You have to concatenate them (using the CONCATENATE function) in the spreadsheet (with a comma in between). Then rename this new column to XMP:Subject



SuperTags        Tags                >>>>>    XMP:Subject

Cat,UK              England          >>>>>    Cat,UK,England



3. The biggest problem I had was getting the tags to show up as separate keywords in Lightroom.. Alamy gives us a comma delimited list but that just goes into the XMP:Subject as a single string and Lightroom displays it as such. So, replace the commas in the list with something else. I used \\. We'll come back to this.

3. Caption - where do you want to put this in Lightroom? There are (at least) two options - XMP:Title and XMP:Caption. Your call. This will be the third column in your spreadsheet.


Now I've got a spreadsheet with


SourceFile     XMP:Subject              XMP:Title

maiow.jpg     Cat\\England\\UK     Cute cat


Step 11:

Slight tweak to the command Mark gave us to use the new \\ separator I put into the keywords.       exiftool -csv=Data.csv -overwrite_original -v *.jpg -sep "\\".


Then select your pictures in Lightroom, update the metadata from the file and....hopefully it'll all be fine. I strongly recommend you go steady and start with copies of only one or two pictures.


Additional over-complication

I've added all my Alamy tags back into Lightroom under a separate keyword hierarchy to keep them separate from my own taxonomy i.e. I've shoved them all under the new keyword 'Alamy'.

I did this by prefixing every single tag with "Alamy|" (without the quotes). I did this by concatenating "Alamy|" to the beginning of each XMP:Subject cell, and using the replace function in Excel  to replace "\\" with "\\Alamy|"  So "Cat\\England\\UK" becomes "Alamy|Cat\\Alamy|England\\Alamy|UK"


If this is of any use to anyone but you're not quite sure what I'm banging on about at any point, shout and I'll try to help.





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Well done for getting this to work and thanks for detailing your method. I'm wondering if you considered using the Alamy Lightroom Bridge plugin? Looking at your method I think you didn't want to over-write your exisiting Keywords so I suppose that wouldn't have worked but it does have many other advantages in the way it integrates with other Alamy data - not that I use it myself I should say. There's also LR/Transporter, when I last looked at that you couldn't import into the LR Keyword field but it does now.


I don't keep my Alamy exported jpegs in Lightroom, I export them from the RAW files so I guess your method wouldn't work for me as ideally I want the data paired with those. I'm wondering now if I could use LR/Transporter but rejig the filename in the Alamy csv to the RAW file extension, that would be very easy but for the fact that I have both .CR2 (Canon) & .RAF (Fuji) RAW files but I'm thinking that I could just maybe change the spreadsheet to CR2 first then risnse & repeat as .RAF....but then there are those duplicate fillenames....


Sorry, thinking aloud really.

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Thanks Harry - I'll have a look at the software you suggest.


My understanding is that exiftool works fine with .DNG raw files (which is what I use, being stranded as I am in Pentax-land) but I don't know if .CR2 and .RAF are forced to use sidecar files?


Yes, the duplicate file names could be tricky but...if you made a clean break between Canon and Sony you could split them into separate .csv files by date? Also note that exiftool starts from the photographs on your disk as its primary input and checks to see if they exist in the spreadsheet, rather than the other way round.  Not sure if that helps - may depend on your filing system.


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I may yet go for Alamy Lightroom Bridge myself, but I'll probably give LR/Transporter a whirl first. You're right, I can probably separate the duplicates by date range and deal with them separately. The actual file names are very different between Fuji & Canon so two imports using different file extensions as the key should work, there will be no match for Fuji in one and vice verse.


In the past I have also used VRA Bridge in conjunction with Adobe Bridge, that worked a treat to transfer metadata into tiffs from a text file derived from a very large database, the difference here being I want to bring the metadata into the LR catalogue database directly rather than into the images themselves and yes, Canon & Fuji RAW need xmp sidecar files so that's not going to work.


http://metadatadeluxe.pbworks.com/w/page/108523528/VRA Bridge Metadata Tools






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On 21/05/2021 at 15:28, RCS said:

Over on the contract thread there was a really useful contribution by Mark Chapman on how to squirt your Alamy data into Lightroom Classic using exiftool. I nearly got it to work but not quite and have spent the morning playing around with it. I wanted to drop a few extra tips in a new topic in case it's useful to anyone, as it would only get lost in the contract talk.

Excellent idea and thanks for the comment.


Just to clarify something. The instructions in my posting (possibly with minor revisions - I think Alamy's CSV format isn't the same as when I first used EXIFTool) allowed me to add the metadata (downloaded from Alamy) into the metadata fields of copies of the jpg files that were previously uploaded to Alamy, without using Lightroom. I seem to recall that the delimiter problem can be solved by using the right csv file open settings in Excel, but I can't recall exactly. I'm away from home at the moment but may take a look when I get back.




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45 minutes ago, Betty LaRue said:

I have always keyworded my images before uploading, and am so glad I did

Yes, I do that also but then I go in and change stuff in AIM, I'm sure many people do, and so the captions and keywords on Alamy are no longer the same as those 'back at base', in my case in Lightroom. Unfortunately it isn't that straightforward to synchronise the two but for Lightroom users then the Alamy Lightroom Bridge plugin is probably the best way to go, though I have a feeling you don't use Lightroom for captioning and keywording anyway. For those not using Lightroom then it gets a bit (a lot?) more complicated but it is still possible with the help of the data download csv. Sadly it's become an issue for those considering leaving Alamy now.

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For lightroom users there is also a useful pluging (after you have synced your images from Alamy to your lightroom catalog), 'search and replace' from John Beardsworth which is useful for removing common misspellings (I often type teh instead of the) or text strings ie 'alamy live news', ready for moving them to another outlet.

Edited by mickfly
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