From a keywording point of view this is not an image

If someone asks you what can you see in the image above, what would you answer? Is that a landscape, a single tree, farmlands, the horizon, blue, green, yellow…? What would you say?

Perhaps you have something more conceptual in mind - like nature, isolation, solitude or tranquillity. If that's the case, we are on the right track. However, how many photographers do you think would add obvious, but not needed words like photo, photograph, photography, image or shot to their keywords (unless, of course, your photo shows indeed a photo)? Let me give you the answer: many!!

From a keywording point of view not everything is “holidays”

Keywords like holidays, vacation, relaxation, tourist destination, tourism or leisure should be used with moderation. Not every photo we take on our holidays falls in the holidays category. We can take a pleasant walk across the field in the above image during a holiday trip, but that doesn’t make it's a holiday pic.

Images of an indigenous community in Africa or a garbage can on a street corner are not holiday pictures either, even if you were comfortably seated on a safari jeep, or in a tour-bus, or walking around with your backpack when you took the picture.

From a keywording point of view this image is not a calendar

Keywords like calendar, postcard, greeting card, etc. shouldn’t be used unless that’s exactly what the photos are showing. Surely this image would fit perfectly in a wall calendar; it could make for a nice postcard as well, but the image is neither a calendar nor a postcard. Therefore, why are many photographers adding keywords which have possible end-uses of their images in mind?

Deciding how the photo is going to be used is up to the customer, not to you; your responsibility is locating the tree precisely and giving the date it was taken, although now we extract the date from the Exif data automatically. When analyzing searches logs that the site creates, we don´t see clients searching using keywords like calendar, greeting card, postcard, etc., but we do see many searches for trees, fields, nature, isolation, solitude, colors, dates and precise places on earth. Why waste time loading up your images with plenty of unnecessary words? They won´t sell more, I tell you!

From a keywording point of view this image is not abroad (not for Czechs, at least)

This photo was taken in Southern Bohemia, in the Czech Republic. There’s little doubt that this place is abroad for the most of us, but someone who lives in Prague could feel quite at home there.

And that’s the point: foreign, abroad, overseas, faraway… all those relative concepts are dependent on the observer’s location, because if you are in Texas, the Czech Republic may sound like the end of the world, however in this global community, just when we all are trying to be world citizens, it’s not a good idea to use distance keywords to separate places, because nowadays distances are relative. Therefore foreign, abroad, overseas, faraway, alien, foreigner, etc. should be avoided unless the photo actually depicts these concepts.

Well, in fact this image is not a lot of things

It doesn’t help us to find keywords which don’t belong to the photo in question, even if they were quite appropriate for other images you sent us along with this one. It may sound obvious, but we must be careful when we assign keywords to a batch of images using Lightroom, Capture One or any other similar program because you should make sure that all keywords are valid for all images before synchronizing metadata. Otherwise search results will be inaccurate, and worst of all really frustrating from the client’s perspective.

From a keywording point of view this image only needs common sense when describing it

When thinking of keywording, keep in mind that common sense is the basic rule and minimalism is the required approach. Using less keywords but the appropriate ones, is often better than maximalism, using every single word that you think will make your images appear. In other words: less is more and common sense is required. Are you using some common sense when keywording your images? I bet most of you’re not!

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July 5. 2010 18:57
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