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

What Music Do You Listen to While Processing Photos?

“What Music Do You Listen to While Processing Photos?”

This question was asked on a popular nature photography forum that I frequent. Given the demographic and interests of most nature photographers, I wasn’t surprised to see responses which included bluegrass, Mozart, blues and even silence. A few of the younger photographers cited hard rock and techno music. I responded with “Metallica, Patty Griffin, and The Beatles.”

Obviously, I don’t just listen to just that but it really depends on my mood. I’m more inclined to listen to aggressive stuff like Metallica, Foo Fighters, The Ataris during the day time while I’m more likely to listen to Patty Griffin or the Beatles at night. Coincidence or not, I feel most focused on my work in the evenings when everything is quiet.

This question made me curious as to what I listen to statistically so I pulled this top ten list from my iTunes most played list on my Mac (just one of the methods in which I listen to music):

Little Fire (Feat. Emmylou Harris) – Patty Griffin

Temporary Home – Carrie Underwood

Ball and Chain – Social Distortion

Ticket to Ride – The Beatles

Kill – Jimmy Eat World

Racing in the Street – Bruce Springsteen

Better Man – Pearl Jam

Kite – Patty Griffin

Please Read the Letter – Robert Plant & Allison Krauss

What’s Been Going On – Amos Lee

What music do you listen to while processing photos?

November 12, 2010 Posted by | Digital Workflow, Music | , | 7 Comments

Photo Metadata

With the majority of image distribution taking place on the internet these days, photographers should take steps to identify their images. One of the most important things for a professional photographer is not only to register their images with the U.S. Copyright Office, but to also tag their files with photo metadata. This serves a number of purposes including auto-populating the data fields when uploading images to stock photo distribution sites such as Alamy Images and Photoshelter. But most importantly, when you distribute the image to a client, it identifies you as the copyright holder in addition to vital photo caption info. Many photo buyers deal with hundreds if not thousands of images per day you can’t expect them to remember who each image belongs to so it is advisable to include basic contact info such as your name and website within the image at the minimum.

A number of programs such as Photoshop, Lightroom and others allow you to enter in this data but for the purposes of this post, I will include screen caps from Photoshop CS4 because that is what I am most familiar with. If you haven’t done this before, you need to go to File < File Info within Photoshop to access these screens.

Meta Data / Description Tab

Meta Data / Description Tab

Photo Metadata for Photoshop

Photo Metadata / IPTC Tab

Photo Metadata for Photoshop

Photo Metadata / IPTC Tab

Meta Data for Photoshop CS4 / IPTC

Meta Data / IPTC

Photo Metadata for Photoshop

Photo Metadata / Origin Tab

I am by no means an expert on this topic but most of these are meta data fields that I use regularly and they seem to fit within my digital workflow and current distribution methods. Though I have been doing this for several years, I wish I had known about this when I first started. There is a percentage of my image library that lacks adequate keywording, caption info, and contact info as a result. For photographers that have been selling images for longer than I have, I can only imagine how much work it would be to catch up on entering photo metadata. My suggestion would be enter in the metadata as needed, or to use a program like Lightroom 2 where you can batch large groups of similar images together.

When all of your image meta data is entered properly it makes it the rest of your work flow easier too. Check out my Downtown Los Angeles at Night photo in my Photoshelter Archive for example. All of the basic identifying info is there from my image ID#, name, caption and keywords. All I had to do was upload my files then batch select pricing profiles and place them into galleries then I was done.

February 7, 2010 Posted by | Digital Workflow, software, stock photography | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Highlight and Shadow Details – LR2 v.s. CS

Photoshop CS Highlight Detail Crop

Photoshop CS Highlight Detail Crop

As mentioned in my previous Adobe Lightroom 2 post, I was able to obtain a greater dynamic range from my Maroon Bells photo than I had thought possible. There’s no need for scientific analysis. The evidence is here in these 100% crops of both the contrasty highlight and shadow detail areas.

Lightroom 2 Highlight Detail Crop

Lightroom 2 Highlight Detail Crop

I even tried decreasing the exposure and contrast in Photoshop to -100 and still couldn’t even get detail in the burnout areas of the cloud whereas Lightroom 2 was able to retain highlight detail without affecting other parts of the image. To be fair, I haven’t tried CS3 so I’m not saying that Lightroom 2 is better for image processing but it is clear that Lightroom 2’s RAW converter is very powerful and well worth the money for anyone who is on the fence about whether or not it is worth the money.

Photoshop CS Shadow Detail Crop

Photoshop CS Shadow Detail Crop

Lightroom 2 Shadow Detail Crop

Lightroom 2 Shadow Detail Crop

November 21, 2008 Posted by | Digital Workflow, software | | 2 Comments

Chromatic Aberration – Calling out pros and publishers

For a digital imaging 101 topic, it is surprising to see how much chromatic aberration makes it onto the printed page. You can pretty much look at any publication from Sports Illustrated to your regional lifestyle magazine and see a heavy dose of chromatic aberration in a fair amount of the images. It looks really bad and amateurish! So please I am urging you to have higher quality control standards in regards to professional photography. I am sick of seeing chromatic aberration in reputable publications, and even in some photography galleries.

If you don’t know what chromatic aberration is, it is the red, blue and/or purple “bleeding” on the high contrast edges of a photo. Good lenses have less of this but digital cameras seem to play a role in this as well. Usually it can be eliminated in Adobe Camera RAW. On really poor lenses however, minimizing the amount of CA is usually the best you can do. If ACR doesn’t work for you, then you can try PT Lens which only costs $15, or some other 3rd party software to fix your lens distortions.

Sometimes you can’t avoid it all together but if a big purple halo is in places that obviously shouldn’t have any purple then you’ve got to ask yourself are you doing all that you can to produce the best file possible? Attention to details such as this should separate a professional photographer from a hobbyist or snapshooter but unfortunately that is not always the case.

October 6, 2008 Posted by | Digital Workflow, rants | , , , , | 3 Comments

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

Photo Keywording Strategy

(Originally published at In the Field in September, 2007 and updated for this blog)

Stock photographers complain all the time about how dreadful keywording is and how it is the worst aspect of the profession. Well this article is not about that.

Proper keywording is essential to selling stock photography nowadays. Without good keywording skills you would be hard pressed to sell anything through stock photo agencies because the industry has gone mostly digital in the past several years. Keywords can also help make your life as a photographer easier because it would allow you to find your own images in a database easier. Keeping track of and finding all of your images is easy if you only have a few hundred marketable images but when you have thousands of images like most pros then it is easy to forget images when one is pressed for time if one doesn’t have an efficient filing system set up. In this article, I will describe what I was thinking about as I keyworded the following image and offer my opinion as to what is necessary in order to keyword a photo properly.

Louisville Bats versus Norfolk Tides AAA Minor League Baseball Game, Louisville, Kentucky Photo: Louisville Bats versus Norfolk Tides AAA Minor League Baseball Game, Louisville, Kentucky

The most obvious keywords for any location shoot image should be geographic location so here are a few that immediately come to mind for this photo: Slugger Field, Louisville, Kentucky, southern, south, USA, United States of America. Personally I tend to leave the United States keywords out because I only shoot U.S. locations and I shoot very location-specific subject matter. If a photo researcher doing were to do an online stock photo search for a Kentucky tourism article or brochure, they’d likely type in something like “Louisville minor league baseball” or “Louisville team sports”, which is more than sufficient to bring up the necessary images since the odds of a Hungarian photo researcher needing my images from Kentucky are highly unlikely. Secondly, minor league baseball is generally thought of as an American sport, so it is unlikely that anyone would do a search on stock site for, “USA minor league baseball teams”. Now if I were keywording for a location such as Niagara Falls or San Francisco, of which the country of origin could be of multiple countries, then the need for country identifying would be more necessary. In this case however, since baseball is an integral part of American culture and history I decided to include the country identifier keywords since the images could be used in a broader sense than just the sport of baseball.

Once the location keywords have been determined, what next? Subject matter is another area in which one should explore for keywords. For sure, some images are more conducive to a high quantity of keywords than others say compare this baseball image with a general postcard scenic image of mountain such as Mount Shasta. There’s only a few relevant ways you can describe the Mount Shasta picture to be of any use to the photo researcher, whereas the baseball image can fit into multiple different image category genres such as lifestyle, travel, sports, inspirational, etc… For the baseball image for example here are just a few keywords to scratch the surface: hitter, hitters, hitting, batter, batters, bat, bats, batting, athlete, athletics, athletes. Knowing some historical information on your subject matter would be very helpful as well.

Synonyms: Every person has their own personal photo search style, so one should always include the singular and plural forms of the words in addition to synonyms of terminology that one might realistically use to find your image. One person might type in “Kentucky baseball pitching” whereas someone else might find my photo by typing in “minor leaguers tossing baseballs in the south”, so it would be to your best interest to include as many relevant forms of the terms as possible.

Vernacular: Be mindful of how your target market speaks because the terminology that they use might not be the same as yours. Slang to one person might be everyday speech to another. For example, my college roommate was from Idaho and never could understand what I was talking about when I said “soda” or “market” because he knew them as “pop” and “grocery store”. Knowing that linguistic insight, I would include those variations of the terms despite the fact that I would probably not use those same words myself in a conversation. Keywording strategy is all about covering the necessary bases.

Conceptual Descriptor keywords: This category of keywords describes the concept of your image. Advertising art directors are more likely to be searching for these types of keywords than an editorial buyer because advertising photography is typically used to illustrate a creative concept based off of a single message. While not absolutely mandatory for some of the images that I shoot, it could be beneficial to include these words anyway. To describe the baseball image, I could add keywords such as “determination, fortitude, reflexes, competition, competitors, etc…” For regular model-released lifestyle type stock imagery though, these sorts of keywords can make or break you financially. If you aren’t good at coming up with descriptory keywords for that type of imagery then chances are you will sell nothing because lifestyle images are all about illustrating a concept. If I were a “lifestyle” photographer specialist, then I’d probably pay a professional keyword specialist to keyword my images since this category of keywords is the most difficult to do effectively.

How many words are too much?: There has been a lot of debate over this since Alamy rolled out their new “Alamy Rank” image search engine prioritizing system a few months ago. Questions one must consider are: Are these keywords diluting the impact of my essential keywords? If so, is it worth leaving this keyword in at the potential risk of receiving a lower rank for a more important keyword? Does the stock agency put a cap on the amount of keywords that I can include per image, if so, then which words should I leave out?

There’s no way for anyone else to answer these questions for you because no one really knows the answers to these questions. My theory is that it’s best to know how your photos might be used and base your keyword strategy off of that assumption. For me, I’d rather just stay modest and not get too cute with every word in the dictionary if no one is likely to use those words. On the other hand, I see some photographers that will stuff 500 keywords into every image. I don’t know what other photographers are selling on Alamy, but my Alamy gross sales in the past year (2006 – 07) is almost $5 per number of images on average, which is higher than the commonly assumed standard of $1 per number of images annual average.

Keywording is not a rocket science so there’s no need to go Shakespeare to find keywords your images. All it takes is some common sense and a little understanding in how your images are used.

Photo Keywording Software: iView Media Pro, Adobe Lightroom, Apple Aperture, BreezeBrowser, FotoStation, IDimager, Image Info Toolkit, Photo Mechanic, Image Keyworder, StockView / METAmachine, fotoKeyword Harvester

The above listed software programs can help you batch keyword images in addition to allowing to create / purchase a controlled vocabulary catalog of keywords ensuring that you’ve got all your bases covered. I’ve tried to keyword images with trial versions of iView, Lightroom and Image Info Toolkit. These programs don’t really fit into my imaging workflow however at the moment so I do not use these programs. However, for many others it is well worth the investment. Eventually I will probably incorporate one of these into my workflow however.

Keywords: Louisville Bats; AAA Minor League Baseball; teams; team; sports; sport; sporting; America’s Favorite Pastime; Louisville; Kentucky; Kentuckiana; South; southern; USA; United States of America; Norfolk Tides; Slugger Field; pitcher; pitching; pitch; ball; balls; bat; batting; batter; batters; umpire; umpires; umpiring; catcher; catchers; catch; catching; infield; infield; field diamond; diamonds; grass; grass; backstop; back stop; stops; backstops; people; player; players; man; men; athlete; athletes; athletics; hand-eye coordination; compete; competitors; competitor; competition; competing; anticipate; anticipation; anticipating; reflex; reflexes; determined; determination; hitters; hitter; minor leaguer; minor leaguers; tossing; toss; tosses; flamethrower; flamethrowers; fireballers; fireballer; speed; fast; quick; speedy; quickly

Try to enjoy your next keyword session. 😉

July 18, 2008 Posted by | Digital Workflow, software, stock photography | , , | 8 Comments

Adding Music to Your Photo Slideshows on a Budget

“Like Heaven” Travel Photography Video

The primary reason why I started composing my own soundtracks for my YouTube motion-picture videos is because it’s too difficult if not impossible to license good music on a small budget. So I figured that since I used to write my own tunes for fun when I was playing saxophone in the college jazz program & in grad school, so why not pick it back up again? I rarely play the sax these days, but I still have a cheap guitar or two laying around the house so it made sense to try hacking something out of them.

I used to record with a Shure instrument mic plugged into my PC’s sound card whether I was recording a saxophone, guitar or keyboard track. Since I didn’t know anything about recording techniques and equipment, I found it difficult to record my alto saxophone playing in particular because the sound kept distorting due to extreme volume. But this time around, I had another problem also. My 30W Marshall amp blew up due to an electrical problem at home a few months ago. I wasn’t in the mood to spend another $400 – 500 to replace it, so I looked around Guitar Center’s website for a multi-effects processor with which I could use in substitution for the guitar amp. A major benefit to using one of these devices is that you can plug straight into your USB port and record directly into the computer without worrying about mics and ambient sound conditions. The sound records much cleaner this way.

Another reason why I chose to purchase the $99 DigiTech RP150 multi-effects pedal instead of buying a new amp to record is because I sold my “hard rock” guitar two years ago leaving me only with a $150 Fender Strat. I hate the sound of this guitar because it is too tinny, but I keep using because I like the way that it feels. With an effects processor though, I can create whatever tones I want even with this cheap Strat. An added bonus is that there is a built-in drum machine with this device. Previously, I programmed drum rhythms on my MIDI keyboard.

Keep in mind that you can create music for your slideshows even if you play keyboards or other instruments, you just have to be able to plug a quality recording device into your computer and have recording software. Most keyboards should be able to plug directly into the computer though, so that’s not an issue.

As for the software – I use open source freeware software like Audacity to record and Photostage for the slideshows. But I’ve used Pro Show Gold in the past for slideshows and think that it is a much better program allowing for more creativity.

Essentially I have been producing these YouTube videos with under $300 worth of gear. Now if only getting all the photos could be done on that sort of budget… Perhaps sometime in the future, I will get into the basics of choosing music and editing for photography videos.

July 17, 2008 Posted by | Digital Workflow, Music, software | , , | Leave a comment

Digital Photography Workflow: Have a Good Filing System

(Originally published at In the Field in October, 2007.)

Digital workflow is a seldom discussed topic on photo blogs but it also happens to be one of the most important aspects for a working photographer to be proficient at. Without a good workflow it would be difficult to locate images quickly, you’d be doing the same tasks repeatedly, and just a total waste of time that would be better spent doing other things. It’s best to establish a good workflow from the beginning because by the time you’ll actually start noticing a need for something consistent you’d likely already have a significant number of images in your collection. It would be a pain to have to re-incorporate all of those processed images back into your new workflow.

Now if I were starting off today with digital imaging the first thing I would do is establish an organized filing system both on your computer and on your backup storage. The most obvious reason to do this is so you can find your images easily. The 2nd reason is so you are able to tell the difference between images that have been backed up versus images that haven’t been. When I first started off with digital imaging in 2000 – 2001, I didn’t have a good filing system in place yet so I ended up saving over my original files repeatedly because I didn’t know any better and because I didn’t have separate distinct folder directors for original files versus processed images. When I got serious about photography and realized that had I saved over my original files that woke me up to the importance of establishing an effective workflow. I use a PC and Windows operating system and will discuss how my filing system works.

I have a folder within the “My Pictures” directory that is called “Photography”. This is where I store low res processed images usually sized to 800 x 533 or thereabouts saved as compression 8 jpegs. The file sizes are usually about 100 – 300k. Good enough for review, email and comps without hogging up the entire hard drive. The jpegs are grouped within sub-directories according to their subject or geographic location such as: My Pictures < Photography < California Missions < Mission San Juan Capistrano. Other photographers might prefer to group their images by a coded image filing system such as CAMSJC001.jpg, CAMSJC002.jpg, CAMSB001.jpg, CAMSB002.jpg, etc… as opposed to a file folder based system such as my own.

The full-res Master files are stored in another directory by numerical order (RW001_Master, RW002_Master, etc…): My Pictures < RW_Master. The file names correspond with my photo ID numbers so I can easily dig up the full-resolution file and have it ready for immediate distribution or output when there is a need for it.

Original un-archived files go into an external hard drive directory: My Pictures < Originals < La Jolla Cove. I keep the originals in this directory until I have backed up them up onto discs and external hard drives. After backing these files up, then I’ll put them into: My Pictures < Burned < La Jolla Cove. The purpose for this is so that I know what I need to back up and what has already been backed up. Without an organized system such as this, then I probably would be missing a significant number of images as I clear off hard drive space.

Within the low resolution folder directory, I also keep a super low resolution catalog of my processed images sized to 250 x 1** so I can register my images at the U.S. Copyright Office on a single CD. It would be impractical to submit 5000 high resolution images to the copyright office and a waste of time to have to go back and create small files each time I want to register my images. This folder also allows me to quick reference a photo by the ID# for requests. This folder is located at: My Pictures < Photography < RW_List.

Another reason why I created my filing system this way is because it is the quickest way for me to save the different copies of each image when I am creating the files all the while maintaining separate folder directories for each. All I have to do is hit a backward folder or two to save each of the versions. Time management is very important when it comes to dealing with a large quantity of images. The goal for me is to create an efficient filing system workflow where I don’t have to think about what I am doing. As a result, my system is very organized and efficient for me to use. I’m not saving over important files by accident and I’m ensured that every image is being properly archived for storage.

Nowadays there are a number of “Digital Asset Management” (DAM) software programs that help streamline the cataloging process such as iViewMedia Pro and Adobe Lightroom. Once the images are keyworded then they can be searched through the catalog’s search engine. With a keyword-based catalog system such as iView, having properly keyworded images is absolutely essential however otherwise the images won’t be found easily. Even if you use DAM software however, it is still important to have an established filing structure for all of the above aforementioned reasons. I haven’t had a need to use these programs as these are primarily geared toward newspaper photojournalists and wedding photographers that need a quick turnaround time.

Time Management: I currently to submit to two stock agencies regularly and another one infrequently. I also upload high resolution jpegs to my PhotoShelter archive so I must keep in mind these additional forms of output when dealing with my image processing workflow. Every additional outlet for which I create files must be carefully evaluated because every single thing is time consuming over the course of thousands of images. My least favorite aspect to photography in the digital-era is the amount of computer work associated with it. So in general if there is little sales potential, profit margin or marketing benefits associated with that outlet then I have no interest in pursuing it. I am primarily interested in pursuing activities that can help grow my business whether that is promoting my website, selling through established rights-managed stock photo venues, or adding to the searchable photo archive on my site.

July 15, 2008 Posted by | Digital Workflow, stock photography | , | 5 Comments