Guide to Keywording Images, part 1
In my years as an image keywording specialist, I was asked this question many times by photographers, both pro and hobbyist alike.
In my next several posts, I will show you how to break an image down into all its elements so that you can comprehensively keyword your images whether you use our software, somebody else’s, or by using a system you develop on you own.
The first step is to start dividing your image. Actually, you are parsing out the language you are using to describe the image, into manageable parts. There are many useful and logical ways to make these divisions, but for argument’s sake I’m going to describe the system that I devised for KeywordSmart.
I first divided up my potential keywords into six buckets:
- WHO: Describe the people in the image
- WHAT: Describe the objects in the image
- WHERE: Describe where the image was taken
- WHEN: Describe when the image was taken
- WHY: Describe the actions, emotions, concepts and adjectives shown in the image
- HOW: Describe any and all interesting photographic techniques used in taking the photo
I know, it’s not perfect, but it has a certain ring to it, and it works. I guarantee you that if you did nothing more than just use this punchlist as you were keywording, you’d be doing a better job than most photographers.
Before I go into detail on each of these groups, I’m going to reiterate a theme that surfaces in all my blogs, tweets and any advice I give to photographers. KEYWORDS are how you sell your images. Every accurate keyword you add to an image increases the chances it will be found in a search by a buyer, and every time it’s found in a search is a chance for it to sell.
Here’s the list of keywords I would come up with: crab, crustacean, animal, ocean creature, wildlife, beach, sand, outdoors, outside, close up, close-up, closeup, shallow depth of field, one animal, one.
For any photographer who thinks the first list is plenty and it’s not worth their time to come up with all the extra keywords, I have this answer: You don’t know what the buyer will search for. Maybe their first search is for crab, but that results in lots of studio shots of crabs, and they know they want a shot of a crab on a beach. So they modify their search to crab + beach, or crab + sand, or crab + outdoors, or crab + outside. This is how buyers find images, they search multiple terms trying to find just the right image.
What if they didn’t care if it was a crab or a lobster, and searched for crustacean + beach or just wanted a picture of a single animal on the beach and searched for one animal + beach?
Admittedly, closeup and shallow depth of field won’t get you many sales by themselves, but if someone searches for crab + closeup + shallow depth of field, you have a very good shot at selling this image.
You get the drift, and now that you appreciate that more good keywords is essential to your success as a stock photographer. Read the following posts where I cover how to comprehensively keyword each aspect of an image.
part 2 How Do I Keyword People in My Images?
part 3 How Do I Keyword People in My Images II?
part 4 How Do I Keyword the Objects in My Image?
part 5 How Should I Keyword the WHERE and WHEN of an Image?
part 6 How Should I Keyword the WHY and HOW in My Images?
And, just to reiterate, keywording is as much art as it is science, and I would love to hear your comments and suggestions. I consider this guide to be a work in progress more than the definitive cyclopedia of image keywording.