Make Your Keywords Work For You

by Rohn Engh - Date: 2006-12-07 - Word Count: 474 Share This!

In the field of editorial photography, photo researchers no longer search for pictures by looking at images (your eyes begin sagging after a while!). Instead, they search first, for words. Rarely do they do a one-word search (they'd receive thousands of hits). They usually use a three or four word search, and sometimes five or six words.

When you attach keywords to each of your images, keep that in mind. Try to anticipate what combination of keywords a photobuyer might use his/her search.

Since text description takes up very little space in a database*, be generous in your use of words to describe each image. Also, remember to include colloquial descriptions: In California it's a "carpet," in Wisconsin, it's a "rug." In Alabama the word is "flying;" in New Jersey it's "aviation."

HINT: Stay away from trite descriptions and keyphrases that are too general. The phrase "Infant child and mother" may bring 2,000 hits. A better description would be, "Infant soiled diapers distraught mother" ** (or whatever appropriately describes the scene).

* The phrase, " Four score and seven years ago, our fathers…" takes up 32 bytes. A normal 8 meg image takes up 8,000,000 bytes.

** No need to include prepositions.


mother supports toddler standing position a Victorian photo locket circa 1865 Spain Andalusia Seville Giralda tower mother daughter under bell poor Cuban family seated on sidewalk Havana Cuba mother daughter Biscarrosse beach France crazy worm ride Edinburgh funfair people family mountain biking France Aquitaine Landes forest France Aquitaine Landes forest boy mountain biking France Aquiline Landes forest teenagers looking bored music concert teenagers looking bored rock concert little girl mother walking carefully on a snowy dirt road kid and man repairing mountain bike elder boy scout welcoming little sister railway station four children contemplating sunset Frioul islands France Corsica island Bastia man son Jet Ski heart-shaped biscuits white plate, valentines male writes graffiti Hebrew three little boys looking at world globe


The following keyphrases are too generic. They need one or two additional modifiers to make the description more specific. Typical modifiers would be: where the activity is taking place (name the city, park, resort, etc.) If it's at a school, business, industry, church, synagogue, mosque, and this also, GET SPECIFIC. That's what the researcher does! Otherwise these are too general, and they would be lost in hundreds of responses and probably never seen by the researcher or buyer.

Christmas turkey mom and daughter opening present mom and son opening Christmas presents young boy and girl and dog young girl and her parents young girl and her mother young girl and her father woman taking photos of children walking in the country brother and sister playing with the sand grandmother and her granddaughter baby foot grasping father's finger mother and daughter kissing girls hugging children at beach grandmother snuggling with baby a loving family, father with his little boy

Related Tags: google, search, sales, engine, director, art, photo, editor, researchers, descriptions

Rohn Engh is director of PhotoSource International and publisher of PhotoStockNotes. Pine Lake Farm, 1910 35th Road, Osceola, WI 54020 USA. Telephone: 1 800 624 0266 Fax: 1 715 248 7394. Web site:

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