Field Report:

The Non-Glamorous Side of Photography

Keyword Smart Software Review

One of the benefits of having a solid social media presence is being able to test and review photography-related products and services. Recently on Twitter, I was introduced to Keyword Smart, so in exchange for being able to use their product, I agreed to provide them with a review. In the past I’ve written about photo keywording strategy so that would be a good primer into how I approach keywording. So without further ado, let’s get into the review.

Why?

The goal of Keyword Smart and other photo keywording software is generally to help ensure that all of your important bases are covered in an efficient manner. Keywording images is a laborious task that many photographers do not enjoy but it is a necessary task if you expect to sell your photography effectively. Keywording not only allows clients to search through your images on their own, but also to help you as the photographer find your own images for urgent photo requests. Maybe if you are first starting off, you can remember the content within all of your images off the top of your head and be able to find them, but once you are more than a few years into your photography career, this will not be possible nor advised.

Keyword Smart is a web-based tool with an innovative approach to streamlining this process. It allows you to enter in your existing keywords into the bulk keyword box then it auto-populates those keywords into keyword taxonomy categories where it generates a master list of synonym and plural terms. You can then use the drop-down menus to drill further down into each keyword category and select additional keywords. These keyword categories are meant to ensure you have entered in keywords for all the types of terms you might not be aware that photo editors typically use such as “no people” or “action shot” for instance.

Keyword Smart for Photographers

Keyword Smart / keywordsmart.com

Cognizant that many photographers enter in their photo meta data within Adobe Lightroom, there is a plugin available that integrates with Lightroom. My workflow doesn’t currently involve keywording within Lightroom so I haven’t tried this feature but I think it sounds like a great feature for those who keyword within Lightroom.

Since Keyword Smart operates as a subscription, web-based tool, their keyword catalog is constantly being updated based on industry feedback and user-behavior. I think this is great method to eventually building up a very accurate, up-to-date keyword catalog. As is, they already claim to have over 130,000 keywords within their system at the time of this review. As the keyword catalog grows, I see this further speeding up the keyword process for photography industry professionals.

Now let’s take a look at the keywords I was able to produce. I chose three images of different genres in order to highlight diversity within the keyword sets.

Grizzly Bear Cub Standing in Meadow at Silver Salmon Creek, Lake Clark National Park, Alaska

Grizzly Bear Cub Standing in Meadow at Silver Salmon Creek, Lake Clark National Park, Alaska

Original Keywords: grizzly bear, bears, cub, cubs, baby, babies, alaskan brown bear, lake clark national park, cook inlet, alaska, usa, wildlife, nature, animal, ursus arctos horribilis, grass, meadow, grizzly bear, ursus americanus, bear, grizzly, grizzly bears, grizzlies, united states of america, cute, cuteness, standing, stands, stand, curious, curiousity, awareness, silver salmon creek, water

Keyword Smart Keywords: 1 animal, alaska, carnivora, lake clark national park and preserve, north america, summer, summertime, u.s, u.s.a, us, usa, united states of america, ursidae, ursus arctos, adorable, animals, baby, brown bear, brown bears, burly, coast, coastal, color image, colour image, cook inlet, cub, cubs, curiosity inquisitive, curious inquisitive, cute, cuteness, day, daylight, daytime, endearing, eye level shot, eye level view, field, grasses, grizzly bear, inquisitive, inquisitively, inquisitiveness, looking, lovable, loveable, mammal, mammals, meadow, natural light, nature, nature photography, no people, no person, nobody, one animal, outdoor shot, outdoors, outside, posture, remote, seaside, silver salmon creek, straight-on shot, upright, vertical, vertical format, wilderness, wildlife, wildlife photography

My grizzly bear cub image had 51 keywords when I originally keyworded the image. For the purposes of this review, I started from scratch when building the new keyword list from Keyword Smart, which ended up producing the 105 keywords listed above. Going through the keywording process via Keyword Smart, helped me to come up keywords that I had never considered previously. It’s impossible to know if having these additional keywords will lead to increased revenue at this point, but this will potentially give me more chances to sell my work which is all we can hope for with great keywording technique.

Cowboy Running from Bull at 2011 Frank Bogert Memorial Rodeo, Palm Springs, California

Cowboy Running from Bull at 2011 Frank Bogert Memorial Rodeo, Palm Springs, California

Original Keywords: bull rider; bullriding; danger; fear; dangerous; extreme sports; rodeo; 2011 frank bogert memorial rodeo; palm springs; southern california; usa; united states of america; inland empire; outdoor; running; san bernardino county; americana; culture; entertainment; rodeos; safety; prca; pro rodeo; palm springs convention center; arena; cowboy; cowboys; westfest

Keyword Smart Keywords: 1 animal, 2011 frank bogert memorial rodeo, americana, north america, u.s, u.s.a, us, usa, united states of america, action shot, action shots, afraid, animals, arena, bull, bull rider, bullriding, bulls, color image, colour image, cowboy, cowboys, culture, cultures, danger, dangerous, dangerously, entertainment, extreme sport, extreme sports, fear, fright, frightened, frightening, hazardous, horizontal, horizontal format, inland empire, one animal, outdoor, outdoor shot, palm springs, palm springs convention center, prca, pro rodeo, rodeo, rodeos, run, running, safe, safely, safety, san bernardino county, scared, scary, southern california, sports photography, terrified, terrifying, terror, unsafe, westfest

In the above rodeo image, I had 46 keywords when I originally keyworded this image last year. Through Keyword Smart, I generated a list of 91 keywords. Clearly this is helping me build a more comprehensive keyword list of important terms. These are not just filler keywords, there are some real descriptive terms that I’m getting out of this.

Pasadena City Hall at Sunset, California

Pasadena City Hall at Sunset, California

This photo of Pasadena City Hall is a new one that I don’t have existing keywords for but I did come up with 79 keywords for this example.

Keyword Smart Keywords: north america, u.s, u.s.a, us, usa, united states of america, architectural, architectural photography, architecture, building structure, building exterior, city hall, cityscape, clouds, color image, colour image, day, daylight, daytime, exterior shot, garfield avenue, government building, government buildings, historic landmark, horizontal, horizontal format, italian baroque dome, los angeles county, municipal building, natural light, no people, no person, nobody, outdoors, outside, partly cloudy, pasadena, renaissance architecture, road, roadway, san gabriel valley, sky, southern california, stormy, street, structure building, sunset, travel, urban

Overall: I have just scratched the surface of what can be done with Keyword Smart. In addition to the features I’ve already mentioned, there is the ability to edit your own taxonomy to fit your personal keywording style, which I like a lot. I intend to make heavy use of this feature which I believe will help take my workflow to the next level. I am frequently keywording images so any edge I can get on this, you can bet that I will take advantage of. Based on my communications with the owner, it’s clear that they are serious about building a quality product for photographers and art buyers, so I will wholeheartedly recommend trying out Keyword Smart.

Visit Keywordsmart.com for more information.

April 10, 2012 Posted by | Digital Workflow, Product Reviews, software, stock photography | , , , , | 5 Comments

Lightroom 2 – Wow!

Maroon Bells Reflection in Maroon Lake in Winter, Maroon - Snowmass Wilderness, Colorado

Maroon Bells Reflection in Maroon Lake in Winter, Maroon - Snowmass Wilderness, Colorado

I bought a copy of Adobe Lightroom 2 the other day and am extremely impressed for reasons I didn’t expect. Initially I just wanted a RAW converter for the latest cameras and a more efficient way to cull down a large batch of images. While I’m still working out how to incorporate Lightroom 2 into my existing workflow, the quality of image processing I’ve been able to get from LR2 has blown me away. I really didn’t think I would do any photo processing with LR2 other than hit the import and export to Photoshop buttons. That all changed the minute I open my first image and started experimenting with the various sliders.

Maroon Bells - Adobe Lightroom 2

Maroon Bells - Adobe Lightroom 2

Once I processed a few images from the Brea Canyon fire, I decided to try it on this Maroon Bells image. The top photo was processed two years ago in Photoshop and I tried my best to pull as much detail out of the image as possible. With Lightroom 2, it required minimal effort to get detail from my picture that I never even knew existed!

If this isn’t enough evidence to convince you to try Lightroom 2 then I don’t know what is. Image quality should the first and foremost priority for photographers.

November 20, 2008 Posted by | Product Reviews, software | , | 3 Comments

Olympus DS-30 Digital Voice Recorder Review

Pros: Small enough to fit into any pocket. Decent sound quality. “CD-quality” sound for small budgets.

Cons: No belt clip. No wind sock. Lecture recording mode sometimes makes voices sound digital. No recording volume control.

Olympus DS-30 Digital Voice Recorder

Olympus DS-30 Digital Voice Recorder

After having tested the Olympus DS-30 Digital Recorder for several weeks in a variety of photography shooting situations, I have mixed reviews about it for the type of work that I do. Since I mainly photograph outdoors and generally moving around in non-controlled shooting conditions, the limitations are fairly obvious. Without a belt clip, the sensitive microphone picks up a rustling sound every time I move around due to being in my shirt pocket. Since the device is too small for a wind sock, having a belt clip would be useless anyway because wind would be a factor outdoors particularly in coastal areas.

The plus sides are numerous as well. If you are planning on staying at one place for a while then the sound quality is generally excellent for the $100 price tag. The device is really simple to use and uploads the .wmv files onto my PC like an external hard drive.

Overall: I plan to return the Olympus DS-30 before my 30 days are up. If you are a college student, podcaster or a reporter that wants to jot down notes then this would be excellent for you. For a photographer that works in the field, the only option is to go for models that have a belt clip and dedicated wind sock. Unfortunately those models are a little pricier.

Examples: Girls Having Fun, Venice Beach Drum Circle

Griffith Observatory Planetarium, Los Angeles, California

September 25, 2008 Posted by | Music, Product Reviews, Technology | , , , | Leave a comment

fotoKeyword Harvester Software Review

If you do stock photography then you are probably aware that image keywording is one of the most debated and least sexiest activities in professional photography. Several companies have produced keyword software to help alleviate this problem by minimizing the amount of redundant exercises and to ensure adequate keywording of your images. Without proper keywording, your images would be hard-pressed to sell these days not to mention difficult to locate if you have a large library of images to sift through for submissions. With that said, Cradoc fotoSoftware recently sent me a copy of their new fotoKeyword Harvester software to review for this blog.

Keyword Harvesting: The first thing I did when I opened the program was click on the “open web pages” tab to bring up a bunch of big stock photo sites where I could do keyword research for similar images. I found that some of the stock sites didn’t consistently have adequate keywording such as Getty Images and Jupiter. In my opinion, the most useful sites for “harvesting” keywords are Alamy, Digital Railroad Marketplace, Photoshelter and Corbis. (Technically, DRR wasn’t on the default list but I added it myself). I deleted some of the other default websites (dictionary and thesaurus) from the list because that takes more time than I’m willing to spend on an image. For some however, it might help to consult with those sites during your keyword research. Overall I thought this was a nifty little time-saving feature to be able to set your default list of websites and have up to ten of them open at once in tab-browsing mode on your web browser. Certainly more convenient than opening them all one-by-one.

Once you find your images then just copy and paste the keywords into the program then click “Harvest Keywords” to eliminate the duplicates and format the list for use. There is also a list of words that are screened out such as “a”, “and”, “by”, stuff that people would use in a conversation but not for stock photo research. This was very helpful and a time-saving feature particularly when copying a pasting text from a variety of sources.

The Keyword Catalog: This is the Keyword Composer tab which is basically a customizable, controlled vocabulary database of commonly photographed subjects. This feature, which is an updated version from fotoBiz 2.0, makes sure that you didn’t forget any essential words. For example, when I was keywording the LA County Fair image below, I checked off the box that said “Things” and the menu brought up a list of categories. The ones that applied to this image were “Americana” and “Food & Prep”. Once clicking on Americana, it brought up a list of keywords. One of which was “junk food”. That fit my image so I clicked on it. Then it added several related keywords onto my list of keywords. For nature photographers, this program could really come in handy because there is a lengthy list of wildlife and natural history subjects which produce latin names that typically require research to find out.

Overall: Before editing down the list of words for relevance, I had 100+ words in the harvester. After making a final edit, I ended up with 88. I had about 23 in my original session of keywording prior to using this program. I found the disparity between how few keywords I originally had versus what I got out of using fotoKeyword Harvester to be shocking. If I were to re-keyword my whole collection in this manner I’d probably triple my sales. What I’d recommend is to start with your most marketable images and then leave the rest as is to focus on keywording your new images.

I found fotoKeyword Harvester to be much more thorough and user-friendly for image keywording than other programs I have tried such as iView Media Pro and Image Info Toolkit. fotoKeyword Harvester was clearly written by a photographer for photographers. In time, it would probably be a time-saver for me to use this program but one thing for sure is that this is essential software for photographers looking to maximize the value of their pictures.

I chose the following three images for an example because they represent three very different types of keywording challenges. They are also subjects / places that I anticipate photographing again in the future.

Young Woman Playing Tambourine in Drum Circle, Venice Beach, California

Young Woman Playing Tambourine in Drum Circle, Venice Beach, California

My Original Photo Keywords: tambourine; tambourines; woman; women; female; females; girl; girls; Venice Beach; drum circle; music; musicians; percussion; dances; dancing; fun; young; youth culture; couterculture; Southern California; Los Angeles County; travel; USA; United States of America; movement; beaches; party; partying; parties; coastal; people; crowd; crowded; crowds

fotoKeyword Harvester: los angeles county, pacific coast, sunset, scenes, travel, southern california, outdoors, usa, venice beach, north america, evening, american, people, drum, circle, dancing, dance, dances, united states, celebration, counterculture, free, spirits, spirited, girl, female, females, lady, ladies, woman, women, fun, twenties, young, adult, life, festival, youth, culture, drumming, dancers, freedom, music, rhythm, beat, percussion, multi, ethnic, leisure, happy, musical, spiritual, gathering, calm, harmony, musician, musicians, male, males, man, afternoon, sunday, interracial, together, mood, move, sound, adults, enjoyment, men, togetherness, festivity, community, group, recreation, crowd, dancer, ca, tambourine, sensual, sexy, seductive, americans, crowded, crowds, tambourinist, tambourinists, tambourines, us, energetic, energy, inspired, inspire, inspiring, inspires, meditative, meditate, meditating, meditation, meditates, passionate, passion, passions, upbeat, vibrant, vibrance, vibrancy, party, parties

Maroon Bells Reflection in Maroon Lake in Winter, Maroon - Snowmass Wilderness, Colorado

Maroon Bells Reflection in Maroon Lake in Winter, Maroon - Snowmass Wilderness, Colorado

My Original Keywords: Maroon Bells; maroon lake; maroon – snowmass wilderness; forests; white river national forest; colorado; rocky mountains; cold; winter; snow; ice; white; clouds; sunset; sunsets; reflection; reflecting; reflections; high altitude

fotoKeyword Harvester: colorado, skies, forest, rocky mountains, maroon bells, winter, season, snow, trees, bare, white, cold, rockies, altitude, majestic, maroon lake, maroon – snowmass wilderness, forests, white river national forest, ice, clouds, sunset, sunsets, reflection, reflecting, reflections, high, aspen, 14,000, feet tall, fourteeners, mountain peaks, state, united states, nature, idyllic, outdoors, western, usa, frozen, water, peak, north america, landscape, mirror, wild, remote, rural, natural, scenic, ecosystem, rugged, alpine, tree, outside, towering, range, summit, pinnacle, backcountry, outdoor, majesty, west, continental divide, beauty, scenics, snowcapped peaks, co, us, lakes, landscapes, scenery, dusk, wintertime, cloud, cloudy, weather

Couple Deciding on What Junk Food to Order, L.A. County Fair, California

Couple Deciding on What Junk Food to Order, L.A. County Fair, California

My Original Keywords: apple fries; mexican funnel cake; L.A. County Fair; Southern California; Los Angeles County Fair; fairs; food; greasy; junk food; unhealthy diet; Pomona Fairplex; 2007; gluttony; food stand; ordering food; people; tourists; people; tourism; hunger; hungry

fotoKeyword Harvester: southern california, los angeles county, fairgrounds, food, sign, drink, sweets, fun, north america, enjoyment, pomona fairplex, us, entertainment, fairs, neon, night, delicious, people, apple, fries, mexican, funnel, cake, la county fair, greasy, junk, unhealthy, diet, gluttony, ordering, tourists, tourism, hunger, hungry, u.s, united states, american, americana, travel, tourist, eat, couple, carefree, bliss, blissful, blissfulness, gluttonous, glutton, traveling, traveler, travels, travelers, ca, united states, dessert, desserts, fast food, fast foods, foods, vendor, vendors, amusement park, theme park, amusement parks, theme parks, fast food, greasy spoon, greasy spoons

If anyone is interested to compare keyword lists like I did above, you can put a link to one of your images in the blog comments, then I’ll generate a list of keywords for you from fotoKeyword Harvester. I think you’d be as impressed as I was.

Here is a link to the product website: http://www.cradocfotosoftware.com/fotoKeyword-Harvester/index.html

July 31, 2008 Posted by | Digital Workflow, Product Reviews, software, stock photography | , , , | 13 Comments

   

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