Field Report:

The Non-Glamorous Side of Photography

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:


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


  1. Richard, this is awesome! Anything to make keywording more efficient is worth investigating.

    I would love for you to compare keyword lists on this photo

    Then, will you post it on your Blog?

    This is a great idea. I bet you will get a lot of interest on this subject!

    Comment by Sherri Meyer | July 31, 2008 | Reply

  2. Nice post Richard. Keywording is one thing I think we will always be refining. Sometimes I wonder what the value is in a keyword like “United States” and similar words/phrases because they are so generic. Certainly a search on that term alone would be like winning the lottery if you got a hit on it. However, perhaps someone searching for “mountain peaks in the united states” might show the advantage of using such generics.

    Comment by Mark | July 31, 2008 | Reply

  3. Thanks Sherri. Here is your list of keywords. I couldn’t copy and paste from your site though so I might be missing a word or two.

    Keywords: couple, canoeing, canoes, canoe, lake clementine, gold country, sierra nevada foothills, mother lode, husband and wife, paddling, adventure, exploration, wilderness, nature, solitude, peacefulness, relaxation, vacation, excursion, water, activities, duo, float, tourist, boat, fun, paddle, recreation, american river, sport, man, two people, water sports, adults, usa, boating, northern california, independence, quiet, rural scenes, natural world, north america, women, females, outdoors, north fork dam, reservoir, auburn, american, adult, adventurous, alive, athletic, activity, bond, bonded, bonding, boyfriend, boyfriends, calm, couples, exercise, exercises, exercising, female, girlfriend, girlfriends, happiness, happy, harmony, health, lakes, lifestyle, lifestyles, male, males, men, woman, middle age, outdoor, outside, partner, partners, peace, physical fitness, recreational, relationship, relationships, together, togetherness, active, americans, caucasian, white, caucasians, husbands, wives, spouse, mate, mates, spouses, 40-45, aged-45-50, baby boomer, baby boomers, bliss, blissful, blissfulness, calmness, fit, sierra nevadas, the sierras

    Comment by Richard Wong | July 31, 2008 | Reply

  4. Thanks Mark. My stock agent started requesting that I put in the country on my submissions so I had to start doing that. I haven’t seen much of evidence on my stat logs that suggest it is beneficial though.

    Comment by Richard Wong | July 31, 2008 | Reply

  5. Interesting results Richard. Some of the results from FH seems redundant. Per the advice of an agency I’m with I’m looking to pare down the number of keywords so as to keep them a little more focused. I find it odd that plural words aren’t pared down in FH results and it seems odd to me that “people” was omitted from the FH results in your junk food photo. FH seems like a good first step. I’ll be curious to see how it develops over time.

    Comment by Jim Goldstein | July 31, 2008 | Reply

  6. Thanks Jim. Actually the word people is in the junk food photo. The requirements for agency to agency vary but I think having the plurals is essential due to the varying ways that people search for images.

    Comment by Richard Wong | July 31, 2008 | Reply

  7. Thank you for taking the time to do this for me Richard. It basically doubled my keyword list.

    I may be investing in this software really soon!

    Comment by Sherri Meyer | July 31, 2008 | Reply

  8. No problem Sherri. You might want to take that list along with yours and run it thru the Harvester again because I missed Placer County among other words.

    Comment by Richard Wong | July 31, 2008 | Reply

  9. Follow-up Note to Jim: In the Keyword Composer, you can screen out for plurals.

    Comment by Richard Wong | July 31, 2008 | Reply

  10. Hi, thanks for tips.


    Comment by Mahroch | November 30, 2008 | Reply

  11. Richard, I would appreciate it if you could gererate a list of keywords for the first image at the above address.
    This is a list of my keywords + the keywords my stock agency added. Thanks

    disease, dissociative identity disorder, disorder, alter, yell, scream, shout, pain, emotion, emotional, male, man, human, angry, anger, psychiatric disorder, personality, multiple personality, multiple personalities, split personality, rage, mps, mental illness, psychiatry, psychotherapy, psychology, hallucinations, hearing voices, man disorder, schizophrenia, schizophrenic, psychotic, psychosis, auditory hallucinations, illustration

    Comment by George Mattei | February 17, 2011 | Reply

  12. Hi George. You’re really talented. Great stuff. I looked up schizophrenia and mental illness on several stock sites and whittled the list down to these 119 keywords:

    bipolar, concept, confusion, screaming, disorder, emotion, emotional, evil, good, hallucination, headache, human, head, face, adult, men, psychology, medical, mental illness, migraine, pain, split personality, psychiatry, psychosis, stress, suffer, suffering, mind, biomedical, illustration, color, hearing voices, conflicts, decisions, behaviors, paranoia, schizophrenia, manic depression, anger, violence, fear, hopelessness, desperation, tyrannical, danger, psychiatric, shock therapy treatment, terror, angst, freud, brain damage, medication, reaction, medicine, dementia, nuts, crazy, bonkers, grief, despair, banging your head against the wall, multiple identity behavior, contrasts, psyco, facial expression, sadness, hysteria, health, bizarre, conflict, three people, horror, furious, displeased, spooky, concepts, ideas, shouting, man, male, person, caucasian, disappointment, solitude, loneliness, frustration, remote, failure, disease, dissociative, alter, yell, scream, shout, angry, personalities, rage, mps, psychotherapy, schizophrenic, psychotic, auditory hallucinations

    Comment by Richard Wong | February 18, 2011 | Reply

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