Proper backup, storage, and archiving are the best protection against losing your images, writes David Saffir. In Part 2 of this three-part series, David explains how to label your images to your images easier to find after you’ve stored them on a DVD, external hard drive, or in the cloud.
As professional (or aspiring professional) photographers, we produce hundreds of images at a time. It’s not uncommon for me to return from a shoot with 1,000 or more photos. I’m sure many of you are in the same boat.
One of the greatest challenges in working with large numbers of images is determining how to catalog your photographs in a way that not only makes sense to you, but also to anyone else who may be searching for specific content.
If you maintain all your own images you have more freedom in how to go about tagging these photos for future reference. However, if you submit to stock agencies, it’s critical to tag your images in such a way that potential clients will find them sooner than they find similar images that may be available. If stock photo buyers are under tight deadlines, they may never bother browsing through the hundreds of choices that may be returned to them. They are more likely to choose from the batches of images they see first.
Keywording is supported by every DAM (Digital Asset Manager) application in one form or another. If you use Adobe Bridge, Adobe Lightroom, or Apple Aperture, you can add keywords and other metadata to your images when you import them. (From experience, I know that images tagged on import are more likely to have more accurate and relevant tags than those images I put off tagging until later.)
One problem that arises is knowing which specific keywords to use. For example, the photo shown here is from Nyhavn Harbor in Copenhagen Denmark. Logical keywords would include Nyhavn Harbor, Copenhagen, Denmark, boats, tourism. But, let’s assume that the potential buyer doesn’t use boats in his search and can’t recall the name of the area. If he searches for ships, Denmark, he will see a number of images before finding this one and this image will be lumped with every other image tagged with Denmark, regardless of the subject matter.
Luckily, there’s a great tool to help standardize keyword selection. The Controlled Vocabulary is a project started by David Riecks. The full catalog contains about 11,000 terms organized by hierarchical structure, making it easy to select the best possible set of keywords for your images.
The catalog is available in various formats to support popular DAMs. You’ll also find enough information on metalogging and IPTC standards to either make your head spin or put you to sleep depending on your interest level. What The Controlled Vocabulary will do for you though is help you maximize how often your image is viewed by prospective buyers and increase the number of sales.
After all, if clients aren’t finding your images, they aren’t buying them!