by Gwyn Headley
I know Jacqui Norman goes on and on at members about the importance of GOOD metadata, and I’m delighted that our aviation expert Colin Smedley has reinforced her call, albeit with a coruscating look at the current standards of categorisation and keywording to be found among fotoLibra photographers. He certainly hasn’t minced his words. Here’s Colin:
Over recent weeks I have been taking a careful look at thousands of images in the fotoLibra library, all categories, not just aviation, just to see what was on offer. You might be surprised at my opinions on what I found.
If you are taking a coffee at this time you might like to put it down in case you splutter all over your keyboard!
Just over 20% of images are in the wrong categories. This in itself is not too bad a problem but it is definitely a frustration amplification factor for picture researchers. Many photographers seem unable to determine the principal subject of their picture. For example a image of a large car with a tiny sticker in the windscreen does not really belong under “advertising”; but a close-up of the sticker may.
About 45% have titles that are inadequate, inaccurate, misleading or just plain wrong. About 15% have titles that are “arty-farty” to the point of being meaningless to researchers. Some even have instead of a title an alphanumeric reference that means nothing to me, researchers and, I suggest, fotoLibra.
About 75% have keywords that are woefully inadequate, misleading, totally wrong or even absent altogether.
About 25% have keywords not properly entered, for example with full stops, hyphens, colons and slashes instead of commas or semi-colons. [crucial separators — GH] Many have sentences or even paragraphs in the keywords box, that is to say keywords that really belong under “description”. Some have keywords and/or descriptions that are transposed and in some cases cut and pasted from other websites such as Wikipedia. Incidentally, have you noticed the increasing internet trend to call keywords “tags”? A very large number of authors are confused by the term “description” and supply a descriptive history of the subject instead of a description of the image.
The combined effect of these failings on sales is potentially enormous. Large numbers of images being invisible to buyers, researchers being put off because they are presented with images with no relevance to their input parameters and random browsers puzzled by finding traction engines under “birds” or birds under “transport/maritime”. None of these factors can be relied upon to impress potential buyers with fotoLibra’s professional attributes.
Sorry to rant on but I did feel my opinions and misgivings needed to be aired. However you may consider these views should be more widely read.
Thank you very much indeed, Colin. We most certainly do.
We’re all here to sell images. We are aware that visual talent is not always congruent with verbal description — we don’t expect surgeons to be boxers as well. But professional picture buyers need to know they’re dealing with professionals, and professional photographers make sure their images can be found by adding concise, accurate, relevant keywords to their metadata.
Incidentally few things irritate picture buyers more than irrelevant over-keywording. A photograph of a lion should not include a list of its prey and other creatures which might be found in a 100 mile radius. It’s a lion, not a warthog, wildebeeste, tiger or elephant.
Colin wants us to recruit an army of expert volunteers in several fields to undertake the work he has started with the Aviation category. That’s a high hope, because men like Colin are the exception rather than the rule, but it’s worth asking anyway.
If there’s a particular subject you feel passionate about, would you like to help vet fotoLibra images in that category? I do what I can for architecture, but I can’t tell a gazania from a geranium. Please let me know if you’re interested. Your endeavours will be rewarded with praise and publicity.