Can customers find your stock photos online? It seems an obvious question, but at A4StockPhotos we still receive submissions which have no useful metadata attached, and in this context ‘useful’ means the keywords which will help potential customers find your photo. If the shots are good we will still take them, but it has to be said that many will be very lucky to find buyers as they come with only the most rudimentary of searchable keywords.
The nature of stock photography is that potential customers are looking for an image to illustrate a blog or article usually dealing with a specific topic, so they will think in those terms when entering search terms. The photo below is a good example of this. It shows an elderly man relaxing by a lake on a summer’s afternoon, but to be more specific it shows a pensioner obviously coarse fishing for carp on a lake in Suffolk, England in a beautiful rural setting. In other words, this image could be useful to anyone looking to illustrate retirement, carp fishing, tourism in Suffolk or the English countryside, countryside pursuits in general, relaxation and/or leisure or environmental protection. If these search terms don’t accompany the image, of course, they will not find the photo.
Image editing software like Adobe Photoshop will usually enable you to access the EXIF data on the file and enter the relevant information to accompany the image. This is an essential tool if you are in the habit of uploading large numbers of photos, but beware of the temptation to ‘bulk edit’ whole batches of images with the same search terms and keywords as this can be counter productive. The aim should always be to submit photos which are sufficiently different to warrant individual editing, as uploading large numbers of similar images will usually result in mass rejection anyway. Obviously this is not good for morale, but more importantly it will lower your contributor’s ranking with most image libraries which in turn makes it harder to get images accepted.
Another common mistake is submitting images of subjects like animals or flowers without naming them. It is never good enough to use blanket phrases like ‘flowers in the sunshine’ or ‘spring blossoms’ without naming the subjects of the photo. Unspecific or inaccurate superlatives like ‘amazing’, ‘beautiful’, ‘wonderful’, ‘gorgeous’ ‘cool’ or ‘sexy’ should also be avoided at all costs as they are totally subjective and rarely add any genuine information to help the search process.
The photo of the damselfly above would probably only be of interest to someone looking for a reference shot of the common damselfly for illustration purposes, but it could conceivably be used to illustrate more abstract concepts like summer, the environment or evening. It could also serve to show specific photographic techniques like backlighting, bokeh etc., but this is a very narrow market. Such terms are still worth entering though. Its greatest potential, though, is probably as a generic background image for a blog, website or brochure about a specific riverside location. There is nothing in this image to place it in any particular spot or time of day so it could be termed a ‘true’ stock photo.
The real challenge here is how to get it in front of a buyer who is looking for a non-specific image to illustrate something like ‘organic gardening’, ‘nature preservation’ etc.
To summarise, there are now tens of millions of images on the internet and the only way to get your photos seen is to use carefully thought out search terms and keywords, even within a relatively small library like A4StockPhotos. We can’t pretend it’s easy to get it right, but when you do you will certainly notice the difference.