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Keywording Secrets For Big Photo Sales

Yvan Cohen, a founder of On Asia? Digital Services, the Bangkok-based photo services company behind software tool Image Keyworder, explains:

“It’s hard to underestimate the importance of accurate keywording in terms of making images accessible in a searchable archive. As image databases expand, many photographers complain that their work is getting ‘lost’ in an ocean of images. The more relevant [the] keywords… the higher the likelihood it will be returned accurately in a search; thereby increasing the chances of a sale.”

For most photographers, that means thinking up a bunch of terms then searching the keyword lists of similar images to see if they’ve left any out. (Yvan criticizes this method as “hit-and-miss and much less comprehensive” than his automated tool, but concedes that Getty and Corbis are both good references when researching how other images are keyworded).

Experience helps too. Andres Rodriguez, a top-selling, Colombian microstock photographer, has the dual problem of keywording each of the 500 or so images he uploads each month and doing it in a foreign language. Asked how he found keywording, he told us:

At first it was difficult especially since English is not my first language, [but] I feel more confident now that I’ve done it 6,000 times.

Andres, who sells about 30,000 licenses a month, described his keyword workflow as first typing keywords that come to mind, then checking terms he’s used similar images in the past. He then looks at three or four images from other people to double check that no important terms have been left out, and once satisfied with his list, he saves it as a template to prevent him from having to repeat the work in the future.

Both Image Keyworder, which depends on a searchable thesaurus, and scans of the keyword lists on other images though depend on guessing the terms a buyer might use when looking for an image. A more accurate way to see what terms people are actually using could be to ask Google. The search engine’s Ad Words? program lets advertisers see lists of related keywords ranked in order of search volume. Although these are searches for information rather than for images, they can provide a helpful insight into how people actually search… and should turn up popular phrases you wouldn’t otherwise have thought of.

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If you are interested in keywording, check out the Controlled Vocabulary? Yahoo group.

On David Riecks also publishes the Controlled Vocabulary Keyword Catalog or CVKC. It is a worthwhile investment. The catalog can be loaded into various asset management products such as Lightroom, IView, Breeze Browser? and other products.

Caption and Keywording Guidelines

Are there people in the image or is this an object or scenic?
If there are people, is the subject male or female, and do your caption or keywords convey this?
Is the person playing a role? (father/mother, doctor, leader, etc)
Have you mentioned the ages of subjects (specific ages and age-ranges as well as “labels” like generation X, youth, senior).
Is it appropriate to mention the subjects race or ethnicity (caucasian, black, hispanic)?
Who is the subject of this image? Is it a person? Actual names are good to include for news or documentary coverage. However names are usually not necessary for stock photography purposes, unless you are talking about celebrities, figureheads and historically noteworthy persons. If it's Donald Trump: yes, include the name. For Donald, your next-door neighbor who was your model in a lifestyle shot, no, do not add the name.


Ссылки: там же:

Articles on Controlled Vocabularies, and Classification Systems:

Looking for Metadata in All the Wrong Places: Why a controlled vocabulary or thesaurus is in your future.
Cuisinarts, E-Commerce, and... Controlled Vocabularies, from Dr. Dobbs Journal
Using Controlled Vocabulary for searching an online database from Florida State University
Christine Wodtke explains about “Using controlled vocabularies to improve findability” in this tutorial on Digital Web magazine.


Real world examples of key wording in action, shows a wide variety of associated pictures with key words.
This basic key word document from the Picture Agency Council of America (PACA) covers a lot of information in two pages, but is unfortunately no longer available.


Controlled vocabulary considered as Metadata for subject searching.
Learn about the concept of “Crosswalks” in Introduction to Metadata: Pathways to Digital Information from the Getty Museum website.
Organizing Information: Metadata and Controlled Vocabularies, from UC Berkley.
A Metadata Glossary – Victor Lombardi explains the differences between taxomonies, ontologies and controlled vocabularies.
Woody Pidcock gives his explantion about the differences between, “a vocabulary, a taxonomy, a thesaurus, an ontology, and a meta-model.”
Debbie Campbell explains how the Dublin Core Metadata and the Australian Meta Web? Project are involved to make metadata work on the web.


How do you build a thesaurus? from Dr. Dobbs Journal
Online Resources & Reference Material for creating a Thesaurus.
Online Dictionaries, Glossaries and Encyclopedias – 101
An article discussing Criteria for Evaluating Thesaurus Software by Jochen Ganzmann


An article on Keyword Theory by James Cook discusses the pros and cons of open vs controlled vocabulary.
A word stemming generator developed at De Paul? might be used to think of word origins you may have not considered.
The Digital Libraries Initiative's D-Lib magazine is available online.

Media Asset Management:

Archive Impact has two reports that might be of use to you if you are trying to save some time, they aren't free, but may be worth investigating. Look at the middle of this page for the research reports on: “Media Asset Management Systems, Basics” and “Media Asset Management Systems Software Reviews.” I've not had the opportunity to read or reviewed these reports, but have corresponded with their marketing director when I was looking for additional resources related to image indexing.

Businesses and Organizations involved in Metadata and Taxonomy creation and Maintenance:

Software for Creating and Maintaining Thesauri:

Term Tree Thesaurus Software is from Australia and has a Windows only application that can be used to create and manage subject (ISO 2788) or records management scheme (AS4390 – ISO 15489) thesauri, synonym rings, controlled vocabularies or taxonomies.
The Willpower Information website has a list of other software offerings for building and editing thesauri.

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