Photographers and Small Libraries Get Drafted Into Searchability War

Whether they like it or not, photographers and small photo libraries are being drafted into the searchability war, where images have to compete on huge aggregating sites like Alamy, Getty, LicenseStream and Fotosearch.  So don't go into battle armed with a pee shooter.

The war is fought photographer on photographer, library on library.  More specifically it occurs in situations where metadata is not the responsibility of the aggregating site, but rather the responsibility of the photographer or small library.

Battles are fought primarily with keywording, and can be a brutal affair.  If you have poor keywords, or ones which are not in sync with the requirements of the aggregator, your images will be beaten out by others who have spent the time and money to arm their images with the best possible keywords.

It leaves many photographers in a difficult position where they have to suddenly become more than a photographer.  They need to be image management, and keywording specialists.



The biggest mistake in this war is to go lightly armed.  Competitors who spend the time and money on high quality keywording will tend to win, over and over again.  The money saved skimping on keywording will become rather cold comfort when sales success isn't what it should be.

We have spoken to many photographers who have shown us their keywording, confident that it was good enough. The fact of the matter is that the keywording wasn’t even close to adequate. With the number of competing photographers with some appropriate metadata, the badly keyworded images may as well have not been on line at all.


One needs only to log onto www.fotosearch.com to see the variety of keywording styles from its contributors and the kind of results that appear when the contributor hasn’t quite got it right.


Photographers and small photo libraries need not surrender however, the keywording can be taken care of by experts without costing the earth. If it is the industry protocol that photographers must look after the success of their images on these sites alone, then it is crucial they are equipped with the best help on the market.