ASPP 2011 Keywording


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Presentation for photographers on how to keyword their images

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  • What keywords do you think of when you see this image?
  • Here are some keywords for a similar image on the Corbis website. Animals, Canine, Collie, dog, mammal, nobody, Rough collie
  • Here is a Getty Images collie with more keywords including conceptual terms like happiness and love.
  • An iStockphoto collie has some different keywords as well, like friendship and animal hair.
  • Veer is minimalist, but precise. Collies, nobody, puppies, Shetland sheepdog, pets
  • Not surprisingly, a Flicker user generated collie has few keywords and includes the word ‘fur’ – perhaps an odd descriptor and a bit redundant when talking about a fluffy dog.
  • As Jeanne Keefe observed in a 1990 paper, “one person’s porch can be another person’s portico,” or as I have interpreted this concept for tonight’s session, “you say tomato, I say aardvark.” People use many different words to describe images.
  • Here is an example from Corbis of good keywords versus keywords that are not relevant. The good keywords describe age and ethnicity, the objects in the photo (cell phone, bunny ears, lollipop), and concepts like trendy and youthful and actions like texting and hanging out. The irrelevant terms include the colors – pink and blue, blue sky and reading.
  • Here’s another one. As you can see, bikini, water and floating all aptly describe the focus of this image whereas beach (where do you see a beach?), cold (how do you know it is cold?) and resort (is she staying at a resort) read too much into this scene. Consider if you would be irritated if this image was returned in results for a beach…
  • Refindability – to locate your images in your own collection. Filenaming conventions and attention to captioning are important as well. Keywording is a best practice that can make your workflow more efficient in the long run. If you wish to sell your images as stock on your site or another, choosing the right keywords has a tremendous impact on users being able to find your images.
  • Controlled vocabulary refers to a pre-determined list of your most commonly used keywords. A controlled vocabulary is created by paying attention to selecting the best, most common term to describe an object and adding synonyms if needed. Uncontrolled vocabulary is like user tagging on Flickr – random, free flowing, inconsistent and hard to reproduce when tagging similar images at another time. Let’s demonstrate with this image. Please jot down or think of the top five words you would use to describe this photo.
  • A controlled vocabulary can be organized into categories making it easy to find terms and remain consistent every time. An uncontrolled vocabulary is just a running list.
  • Large stock agencies maintain extensive hierarchical controlled vocabularies. When you submit your keywords, the terms are mapped to the larger vocabulary tree to automatically add more synonyms and increase search results. For example, if you submit an image with the keyword ‘mountain lion,’ it would automatically add the synonyms ‘cougar’ and ‘puma.’
  • The mapping tool may even be able to differentiate between this puma and this cougar.
  • Export list if you use Lightroom or Flickr. Keep track of your most common subjects or keywords. Research similar images on stock photo sites for keyword ideas.
  • The best way to create a keyword list for use in Adobe Lightroom is as a text file. On a Mac, most everyone should have the TextEdit program.
  • Create a list using square brackets around the main categories and indenting for the terms. Synonyms are inset in curly brackets. Remember that it is most important to include synonyms if you are selling images on your own site – big agencies will add many synonyms for you.
  • Here is an example of how to add keywords in Lightroom. In the main screen import your photos, select Library.
  • Choose Metadata from the top menu and Import Keywords. Be sure you have saved your Vocabulary Keyword list txt file where you can find it.
  • When your keywords have been imported, they will appear on the right in the Keyword list. Simply click on an image and click on a keyword to add it to the image. You can see the keywords appear at the top right. To add a keyword that is not already in your list, click on the + sign.
  • When an image is exported, the keywords travel with the file in the File Info/IPTC data.
  • You can also export the keyword list from Lightroom for use the next time you keyword images. That way, if you added any terms you will have the most updated list the next time you process images.
  • Many stock photo sites offer tips and guidelines for submission with particulars on keywording. There is a list in the handout accompanying tonight’s session, in fact. Corbis’ Keywording Guidelines include the following: Title (short, concise and no more than 10 words) Caption (not required. Use for travel and real-life editorial or documentary) People (Total number of people depicted or nobody) Age, Gender, Ethnicity Length (full-length, half-length, head and shoulders) Setting / Location (indoors or outdoors, or geographical location if relevant) Objects / Attributes (relevant things that are depicted) Activities (actions, occasions, events) Concepts (thoughts, feelings and ideas implied, but not necessarily depicted)
  • Finally, when you are approaching keywording, it pays to think like a search engine. Here are some concepts to be aware of when considering your keywords. Stemming – what is stemming? Well, if you search the word ‘run’ and images with the keywords ‘running’ and ‘ran’ come up, this is an example of stemming. Most search engines and many stock sites have the ability to take the root form of the word and extrapolate other forms. Why is this important? You don’t need to use as many keywords. Think of the best term and forget all the verb forms and plurals. AND, OR and NOT – searchers can use the Boolean terms AND, OR and NOT to expand or restrict their searches. Some search automatically defaults to AND between terms and Advanced Search often offers choices like OR and NOT. Compound terms and phrases – when a searcher types in ‘red dress’, in many cases results returned will feature everything red and all dresses. A ‘rubber band’ is an actual object so this is allowed as a term. Phrases behave badly, too. Be mindful of using compound terms or phrases in your keywords. Ambiguous terms like orange (both a color and a fruit) also baffle search engines. If you are keywording an ambiguous image, make sure to pay attention to these terms.
  • Simplicity Rules Describe images simply – usually about ten to fifteen keywords is optimal. Be specific – remember that floating lady in the ocean. Was there a beach? Pick the best word or words – use commonly recognizable terms. Don’t say erudite when smart or clever will do just fine. Be descriptive, not excessive – more keywords will not make your image more retrievable, the most artfully selected words will.
  • It’s not just about the image, it’s about the metadata…
  • ASPP 2011 Keywording

    1. 10. <ul><li>Refindability </li></ul><ul><li>Best practice in workflow </li></ul><ul><li>To help sell images on your own site </li></ul><ul><li>For use when submitting to stock and microstock agencies </li></ul>
    2. 12. <ul><li>Controlled </li></ul><ul><li>Transportation </li></ul><ul><li>Automobile </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Car </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Chevrolet </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Color </li></ul><ul><li>Red </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Candy Apple Red </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Uncontrolled </li></ul><ul><li>Red </li></ul><ul><li>Car </li></ul><ul><li>Tires </li></ul><ul><li>Wheel </li></ul><ul><li>Shiny </li></ul><ul><li>Chrome </li></ul><ul><li>Classic </li></ul>
    3. 13. mountain lion cougar puma
    4. 15. <ul><li>Export list from current program. </li></ul><ul><li>Start keeping track of the words you use for the things you most frequently shoot. </li></ul><ul><li>Use stock photo sites for research. </li></ul>
    5. 23. <ul><li>Title (short, concise and no more than 10 words) </li></ul><ul><li>Caption (not required. Use for travel and real-life editorial or documentary) </li></ul><ul><li>People (Total number of people depicted or nobody) </li></ul><ul><li>Age, Gender, Ethnicity </li></ul><ul><li>Length (full-length, half-length, head and shoulders) </li></ul><ul><li>Setting / Location (indoors or outdoors, or geographical location if relevant) </li></ul><ul><li>Objects / Attributes (relevant things that are depicted) </li></ul><ul><li>Activities (actions, occasions, events) </li></ul><ul><li>Concepts (thoughts, feelings and ideas implied, but not necessarily depicted ) </li></ul>
    6. 24. <ul><li>Stemming </li></ul><ul><li>AND, OR, NOT </li></ul><ul><li>Compound Terms or Phrases </li></ul><ul><li>Ambiguous terms </li></ul>
    7. 25. <ul><li>Describe images simply. </li></ul><ul><li>Be specific. </li></ul><ul><li>Pick the best word or words. </li></ul><ul><li>Be descriptive, not excessive. </li></ul>
    8. 26. It’s not just about the image, it’s about the metadata…