What Wine Can Teach Us About Ordering Keywording

It is a continual source of puzzlement why so many photographers and image libraries are interested in purchasing "keywording".  It sounds like an innocent enough request, but makes as much sense as going into a bar and ordering a glass of wine without specifying what colour, grape variety or label.

To take the wine analogy a little further, it wouldn't help that much to ask for just red wine, and even the grape variety alone might not make that much sense given that there are as many flavours of Chardonnay or Pino Noir as there are vineyards and vintages.  In the same way, there are many ways of doing keywording such as being heavy on conceptual words, including technical terms, or referring to the composition of each image.


So to get the keywording you want from a new provider, think about how the wine drinker tries to get wine to their taste, by specifying the style, the flavours, the length of finish and so on.  In other words, give as much detail as you can about what you expect with regards to the "flavour" of the keywording.  Touch on aspects such as use of singulars or plurals, US-UK spellings, number of conceptual keywords, the appropriate keywording standard (eg Getty, Alamy or Corbis) and so on.

Better still, provide  the keywording company with examples of what you already have and expect. It is an exercise in futility to keep this information back as some sort of blind test.  Asking for a glass of red wine, and getting a Merlot when you really wanted a Pinot Noir, is hardly a good outcome for either side.