July 15, 2009 -- The Stock Artists Alliance (external link) held a getMETAsmart (external link) seminar in Washington, DC on June 25 at the Washington Post headquarters. The program included a presentation about using metadata to attract customers, a demonstration of applications for embedding metadata in photographs and testimony from industry professionals about how metadata increased their business.
David Riecks, photographer and principal investigator for the Standardized Metadata for Stock Photography project, hosted the seminar. Earlier that day he had given the "Embedded Photo Metadata to Enhance the Value of Image Collections" (PPT, 10.51MB) presentation at the annual National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program partners meeting.
The goal of the workshop was to help digital photographers use metadata when creating and distributing their work. Riecks opened the event by displaying a digital photo and asking, "Aside from what I see, what else do I know about this image?" He went on to make a case for embedding metadata in the file, stating that each digital photo can and should contain information about itself, its creator and its licensing conditions.
Digital cameras automatically record some metadata about the conditions under which each photo was taken, such as its aperture, shutter speed, focal length and metering mode. Some cameras now include a global positioning system, which adds information about where the photo was taken. This metadata is created in the Exchangeable Image File (EXIF) format and embedded by means of Adobe's Extensible Metadata Platform (XMP) into the photo file itself. Riecks demonstrated the ease of embedding additional metadata and reviewed the features of several digital-photograph applications that support it.
Alan Murabayashi, founder of the photography website and marketing service PhotoShelter (external link), spoke about the ways photographers can optimize their websites with metadata. Rubayashi advocated search-engine optimization and said that photographers with websites should anticipate the keywords potential customers might use in a web search to boost ranking in search results. He called this type of marketing "inbound" as compared with "outbound" marketing in which the business owner makes phone calls, generates email, takes out ads and uses brute force to advertise her site.
A panel of Washington photographers – Joe Tresh, Randy Santos and John Harrington – spoke about how metadata helps their businesses. They agreed that embedding metadata into the photos as soon as possible helps with their organization and workflow. As customers request specific types of photos, the photographers can quickly retrieve items depending using keywords. Embedded licensing metadata travels with the photos to the client. They advised the audience members to think like an image buyer, not a photographer, when they load keywords into their photos and websites to help boost page views and sales.
Organizations such as the SAA and the Picture Licensing Universal System (external link) coalition are on an ongoing mission to help establish industry standards, to raise awareness of digital photo metadata embedding and to simplify the management of image rights.