How Should I Keyword the WHY and HOW in My Images

Guide to Keywording Images, part 6

This is the final installment of my series on how to keyword your images to increase your stock photography sales.  All the suggestions I’ve made should be applied to your images, whether you’re a full-time stock photographer, an hobbyist who hasn’t taken the plunge into selling stock yet, or if you are managing an image library for your company, school, non-profit or group of any kind.

Today we will cover the why (concepts, emotions, actions and adjectives) and how (photographic techniques used) of your images.

If you’d like to read the whole guide to image keywording, start here: How Should I Keyword My Images.

However, if you’ve already read the first five parts and are dying to read the exciting conclusion, then let’s get to it.


The why of the images is often as important if not more important than the actual objects in the image.  For my own convenience, I’ve divided the why into four categories: actions, concepts, emotions and adjectives.  These keywords are generally describing why the people or object were worth photographing and, hence, worth buying.

  • Actions:  What’s happening in the image, whether it’s people or animals doing things, such as children playing or running, or an actions that is being depicted by objects, such as balls falling or raindrops splashing.
  • Concepts:  What’s the story of the image?  Danger, safety, history, the 1960’s, pain, or modern architecture are just a couple examples.
  • Emotions:  What are the people feeling?  Happiness, sadness, fear, and hope to name a couple.
  • Adjectives:  Important adjectives to describe the subjects of the image, such as blue, wooden, broken, radiant or slovenly.

Skimping on these keywords may very well mean missing out on marketing the most important part of the image–the story being told by the photo.

Ask yourself, why did you take this photo in the first place?  Stock photography is bought to tell a story without having to write the words.  What story is your image telling.  Buyers often begin their search process with a concept or emotion that they need portrayed.


The how of an image is all the photographic techniques that were used in creating the image.  Searchers often use these keywords to narrow their search result down.  I have divided the how into the following:


  • black and white illustration
  • black and white image
  • color illustration (don’t forget colour illustration as well)
  • color image
  • hand colored image
  • infrared image
  • sepia image
  • x-ray image

Seems pretty obvious, and in all fairness, many stock houses have a separate field for this information, but takes 2 seconds, and it may lead to a sale.


The following list of keywords include all the common terms for the scope of the image.

  • architectural detail
  • cityscape
  • closeup
  • detail
  • landscape
  • macro
  • nature detail
  • overall
  • seascape
  • skyline
  • vista
  • waterscape


  • aerial view
  • flat shot
  • forced perspective
  • from shore
  • to shore
  • high angle view
  • low angle view
  • rear view
  • surface level view
  • through doorway
  • through window
  • vanishing point

These are some of the more common keywords relating to the perspective of the image.


Horizontal, vertical, square and panorama.  Every image on the planet is one or the other, so keyword it.

Like image/illustration this is rarely keyworded, because some stock houses have a separate field for format, but that really shouldn’t stop you from entering it as a keyword.


Action shot and motion blur, are two keywords that should be used if appropriate.

Colored background

If your image has a fairly solidly colored background, then you should keyword colored background, coloured background and blue background (or whatever color it is). Don’t be afraid to get specific with the color and add teal background if it’s approprate.


Were any out of the ordinary exposure techniques used in taking the image?  Long exposure, multiple exposure, overexposed, and underexposed are a few examples.


Some examples of focus techniques are background blurred, foreground blurred, shallow focus, soft focus and deep focus.


Cropped, cutout, dropout, and copy space are a few keywords that searchers often use when the have certain requirements for their image.


Lighting is sometimes worth keywording if it’s an important aspect of the image.  Backlit, lens flare and silhouette are a couple of examples

This closes up my guide to proper image keywording.  I hope you found some good advice here.  You are welcome to use this as a checklist to see how you are keywording your images.

But if you would like some regimented direction, you should try our image keywording software KeywordSmart.  We have compiled this entire list into one easy to follow workflow.  All you really have to do is look and react.  No wracking your brain trying to come up with the right keywords, while staring at that damn blank keyword field in Adobe Lightroom.

part 1 How Do I Keyword My Images?
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?

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This entry was posted in Image Keywording, Keywording, Photography, Stock Photographer, Stock Photography and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
  • How Do I Keyword My Images? | KeywordSmart Blog

    […] 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? […]

  • Michael

    excellent article

  • Anonymous