Keywords for your Stockphotos

_MG_7661 bas relief of Horus stock photo of Egypt by John RochaThis post is a little different as this photo isn’t on sale yet.

Here’s how it goes.

You take the photos.

You edit the photos and decided on the “Keepers”.

You choose some to prepare for different purposes.

This photo I’ve decided to offer for sale as a stockphoto.

Now here’s the problem:


😉 >>
At best it’s like watching the paint dry as they say.

Many photographers have stronger views – one writing that he needs a bottle of whiskey by his elbow to take him through the process..

Added to this, different agencies have different requirements.


How do you get from this:


to this?:


Here goes:

Why do keywords matter?

It’s one of the strange problems that to find pictures using search engines people normally have to use words.

So we, as photographers have to find words for our photos to help the searchers and potential buyers.

So, where do we start?

Every picture has a title generated by the camera:


This is not much help to a picture searcher.

The first step is to give the picture some words to go with the title.

In this case I made it:


It’s vital to get this right.

When you’re travelling keep a diary, Use a notebook,  A pocket recorder, a netbook. Photograph any descriptive text at the sites. Use GPS.

When your travels are over you will forget, you will get mixed up.

Record the information while it’s still fresh in your mind.

So, you’ve got a title what then?

From your notes you can get some more words.

And don’t forget that keywords really means keyphrases.

People looking for pictures often use phrases rather than single words.

Next I check on sites like Wikepedia or Egypt related sites.

You’ll get words like god, deity, falcon

Phrases like:

Horus the falcon god.

Now I think I’m a pretty decent photographer but lots of great photographers have been to Egypt and photographed the same site.

And those photographers have keyworded their images too.

Don’t reinvent the wheel.

It’s time to see what other photographers have done.

luckily, there are some free resources on line.

My first stop is at Yuri Arcurs keywording site.

Yuri knows a lot about keywording so take his advice seriously.

I type in “horus”

and here’s some words that I finally come up with:

africa, african, ancient, antique, archeology, architecture, art, artifacts, civilization, crown, culture, edfu, egypt, egyptian, egyptology, god, historical, history, horus, sacred, sculpture, statue, stone, temple, tourism, wonder.

So the list is beginning to grow:

Next stop is a site which operates on the same principal but has a more sophisticated selection.

This is find photokeywords

This is what I come up with.

horus, egypt, temple, edfu, africa, ancient, history, god, egyptian, statue, sculpture, travel, no people, culture, archeology, antique, color image, day, ancient egyptian culture, outdoors, tourist, religion, falcon, bird, monument, wonder, vacation, archaeology, built structure, animal representation., heritage, famous, stone, vertical, ancient civilization, travel destinations, historical,

Some things are clearer now.

There are different types of keywords and keyphrases:

Some are descriptive or show mood, some are about photo techniques and some are misleading.

Some photographers, and I’m one of them also use commercial programmes.

I’ve tried a few and none are perfect but my favourite is Image Keyworder.

It bills itself as “Keywording made easy”.

Well not quite and its main problem is that it presents you with a blank screen and no ideas.

Still, if you can kick start as I’ve suggested this programmes really helps with synonyms and organization that quickly give you plenty of ideas.

One great thing about this programme is that although it’s a subscription programme I found I only paid for an update after the first year which made it much cheaper.

These ideas will give you lots of keywords and keyphrases but:

You can’t automate the whole process.

Some of the keywords may be irrelevant or unhelpful.

For example bird or god may give the picture searcher huge numbers of pictures which are not relevant.

Even worse are false positives:

These are keywords and phrases which give searchers pictures they don’t want.

For example, the word romania might get lots of pictures of Romans.

The word Iceland might get pictures of Iceland poppies.

This just shows that searching is a difficult area.

Anyway, if you have any thoughts on keywording, let’s have your comments.

Happy Keywording!

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Stock photography by John Rocha at Alamy

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