Best PracticesStock PhotographyVintage

Hey Photographers – Want to Sell More Images? Read Our Tips For Keywording.

Buyers may be looking for a specific image or for inspiration. In both cases, they are probably in a hurry. The more thought and attention you put into your keywords the more likely your images are to appear in relevant searches. 

SuperStock_4490R-22164798Image Number: 4490R-22164798 Credit: Ana Lukenda

In developing your keywords, think like a journalist. Ask yourself if you have covered the five Ws: who, what, when, where and why? Aim for 10-25 keywords that address both specific elements and conceptual aspects in the image. Separate keywords with a comma or semicolon.
SuperStock_1035-1010Image Number: 1035-1010 Credit: Underwood Photo Archives

These 10 tips will help you generate (or update) strong keywords. Include:

  • Description of the core image, both generally and specifically. (Example:  dog, poodle)
  • Attributes of the image (Example: vintage, grainy, copy space, horizontal)
  • Predominant colors (Example:  yellow balloon, red dress)
  • Gender and number of people (Example:  two men and one woman)
  • Mood (Example:  happy baby, sad worker)
  • Relationships (Example:  mother and child, extended family)
  • Events (Example:  wedding, graduation)
  • Location (Example:  parking garage, kitchen)
  • Activity (Example:  kissing, swimming)
  • Nature conditions (Example: sunset, thunderstorm)

Do not include:

  • Dates (unless they are historically relevant)
  • Typographical characters (Example: # or &)
  • Trade names (Example: Honda, Apple)
  • Past tense (Example: wed, celebrated)
  • Misspelled words
  • American-only spelling for an international audience (Example:  color and colour)
  • Agency name or business spam
  • All caps
  • Slang (Example: sneakers not kicks)
  • Proper names that are not capitalized (Example: Empire State Building not empire state building)

SuperStock_255-4041 Image Number: 255-4041 Credit: 4X5 Collection / SuperStock

Tom Sheeter
Tom Sheeter is a Los Angeles based writer and Account Manager at Superstock. He specializes in film and tv licensing and clearance issues.

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