Thursday, February 25, 2010

Stock images Keywording tutorial

Well it finally started raining here after quite a long heat wave

Back on topic: Lets talk about stock photography keywords
First of all WHY? simple, if your image has no keywords buyers will have a hard time finding and licensing your image

Three IPTC fields are important to buyers, Title caption and keywords
Different stock photography sites have different names and sometimes different usages for these fields.

Title: A small description of the image can appear bellow the thumb or on the pop-up screen that is very popular now - usually 20 - 40 characters depending on the site

Description: A long(er) description can and should contain as much information as you think can be useful to the buyer Has to answer the 5 WH questions if they are relevant
  • When - Date, Season, time of day
  • Where - Geographic location
  • Why
  • What - is happening
  • WHO - is in the the picture
  • How - special technique, low / high view. facing camera etc
Please note, not all of these questions are relevant to all of the images. For example, a studio shot of still life does not require a geographical location

Keywords: This is where the whole effort becomes art
Before we can talk about keywords we have to consider where the image will be placed. Each site has a different set up and uses different parameters for their search engine so you must know your sites capabilities and limitations and keyword accordingly
Stemming - stemming is the search engines capability to take the search term, find the root of the word and bring back results of all words that stem from the root. Example: will a search for running return images with run, runner, runners. Will a search for ox return images with the keyword oxen and even more important will oxen return ox. will Israel Images have the same results as Israeli Images
Weighting - many sites have some weighting system in place. Images with the search term in a higher ranked position will placed higher in the search results
Synonyms - does the search engine know that lift and elevator are the same?
Limiting - some sites limit the number of keywords allowed or by word count or character count

If, like us at PhotoStock-Israel, you keyword for more than one web site you have a lot of thinking to do before even looking at an image

Like everything in life there are two extremes: the minimum approach and the maximum approach
The minimum approach adds as few images as possible
The maximum approach adds any and every relevant keyword - very often over done
Advantages of the minimum approach - less work more images keyworded in a time frame. Less false returns
Advantages of the maximum approach - your images will be presented in more searches but if the specific image does not meet the buyers needs this is a bad result for you and the site
As always, there is the middle ground
With each word you want to add ask yourself:
  1. Could a buyer searching with this word use this image?
  2. Would you be left out of relevant searches if you do NOT use this word
Look at the following example of a table set for a meal will a buyer use it for a table - probably not but table is important for searches like "set table" so yes I would leave it in

Example 2

What keywords would you place here? in parentheses depending on stemming capabilities
run, (running, runner.....)
jog, (jogging, .....)
sea / ocean
man / male
vacation / holiday ? (I'm not sure)
seaside, beach, seashore,
baseball cap - only if you feel a buyer looking for an image of a cap would or could use this image
I'm leaving the rest for the student

Add you comments or keywords here or email them to me at
Ilan.Rosen (you know what goes here)

Ilan Rosen

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