Some Tips To Get You Started

Here's a few tips to help your keywording process:

  1. Understand Your Search Mechanism - Think about how users, including your own staff, will actually use your archive. Do searches allow for criteria such as "and" or "not"? Are those search criteria used in reality or do people simply opt for the quick-search window? This can have a major bearing on what keywords you should construct and how many you need to put in. Alternatively, you might consider improving your search mechanism to make better use of your keywords.

  2. Work Out An Appropriate Keywording Formula - Get your research staff together to talk over what searches they actually do, and what searches they and your clients have trouble completing effectively because of a lack of keywords. Much of this will depend on the sorts of images you hold. A fashion archive would be likely to require far greater detail, and a much wider vocabulary, to describe the clothing of photo subjects, than would a sports agency. If possible, enlist the help of people with experience in keywording to help you work through such issues as whether to include alternative spellings and whether to adopt an industry standard or controlled vocabulary.

  3. Get To Know The Crucial Keywording Standards - If submitting to the likes of Getty or Corbis it's imperative to understand their keywording standards, including what words are preferred, and relevant character limits. Get these wrong and your images could be rejected.
  4. Make Your Keywording As Consistent As Possible - The best keywording vocabulary and policies are of no use unless you can make sure they are followed. The work should be done by staff specifically trained and designated for the task. Software which organises the process is a huge advantage. Do not leave it up to photographers.

  5. Harmonise Captions With Keywords - If the caption and keywords fields are both being searched, try to stop the caption sabotaging the keywords by adding in words which mislead researchers, such as mentions of people not visible in the picture.