Keywording Editorial Photos
In Good Keywords Sell and Good Keywords Sell, Part 2 , we examined various ways to improve keywording to make your images more marketable. This article will focus on how to properly title and keyword editorial photos.
First, a word on editorial images. Editorial images are images that have not been released for commercial use. Editorial photos are generally used in newspapers, magazines, informational periodicals and electronic media, educational materials, etc. Editorial stock photos often include people, depicting them as they are in real-life situations (as opposed to the staged set-ups of commercial stock photography). These photos are naturally more unique and content-specific than commercial stock photos. Editorial buyers need “believable” photos, not set-up with models or backgrounds. Model releases are not needed since their purpose is to educate or inform.
Titling Editorial Photos
[Editor’s note: For the purposes of this article, “title” and “caption” are synonymous.]
You generally have more leeway in composing your images’ titles than keywords, but images marked as editorial are a major exception. As more and more news organizations are turning to stock imagery for their visual aids, factual accuracy is vital.
For this reason, a caption format for editorial photos’ titles is now mandatory.
For a newsworthy editorial photo to have any long-term value, the image must have some basic identifiers such as: Who, What, Where & When as a caption/description. Simply explain what is going on in the image. Write only the facts — accuracy is very important. When writing, be concise. Please keep it under 200 characters (including spaces).
Here is an example of the kind of caption Shutterstock requires:
A “dateline” style always comes before the caption, which also includes the location, as in the example above: “JACKSON, NJ – JUNE 16:” Although this may seem redundant, you should still include the date and location in the description.
For images taken in any major city in the world, such as Los Angeles, New York or London, you do not need the nation or state identifier in the dateline, just in the description. Examples:
LOS ANGELES – JUNE 16: Singer Deborah Harry performs onstage at Six Flags Great Adventure June 16, 2008 in Los Angeles, California.
LONDON – JUNE 16: Singer Deborah Harry attends a charity benefit June 16, 2008 in London, England.
If you are submitting from an event on June 16 in Sydney, Australia, the dateline would be: SYDNEY – JUNE 16:
For a motorcross event in Sydney, your caption may be: John Doe of Australia participates in the Extreme Motorcross Event June 16, 2008 in Sydney, Australia.
Put the dateline and caption together, and this is how the complete caption should read:
SYDNEY – JUNE 16: John Doe of Australia participates in the Extreme Motorcross Event June 16, 2008 in Sydney, Australia.
Again, please keep your title (caption) under 200 characters (including spaces). For more information regarding editorial image requirements, please refer to our forum posting.
Editorial images of children: Editorial images of children, like all editorial images, need to be newsworthy (specifically of domestic or international importance). Please follow the caption examples above. Please note: remember to include a name, the child’s age and general area of residence, as these are required for an editorial image of a child.
One caption/description example of an image of a child that may be newsworthy:
CHARLOTTE – JUNE 16: John Doe, 8, from Charlotte, N.C., cools off in a spray of mist at the Zoo June 16, 2008 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Temperatures were at record highs.
Without a proper caption/description, all newsworthy editorial images will not be approved.
One final tip: Think like a photojournalist when writing your captions. Be factual and concise.
Keywording Editorial Photos
Most of Shutterstock’s keyword guidelines and tips are just as applicable to editorial photos as they are to standard/creative images. The tips covered in Good Keywords Sell and Good Keywords Sell, Part 2 are worth revisiting, and applying to editorial images as well.
That said, Here are some tips to keep in mind when keywording editorial images.
Despite the rigid structure of captioning editorial photos, titles are not searchable. Therefore, carefully consider what the most relevant keywords are. For example, let’s say you have a photo of Barack Obama with a blue sky background. Who might want to use this image? Probably someone looking for a photo of Barack Obama, as opposed to someone needing a photo of a blue sky. (Hint: Keywording Barack, Obama, and “Barack Obama” would all be acceptable. Blue and sky? Not so much.)
When keywording proper nouns, use the names both with and without quotation marks. Back to Barack Obama: You would want to keyword “Barack Obama” as well as Barack Obama.
The same goes for locations. If your editorial photo is taken at a noteworthy location, the location’s name is a good keyword, with and without quotation marks (“Radio City Music Hall” and Radio City Music Hall, for example).
Final note: You always have the option to revisit and edit your keywords at any time. Simply login, look up the image by the image number, then click on the pencil icon. This allows you to not only edit the image keywords and title (description or ‘caption’), but also change the watermark placement on the image itself.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact us.
Other keyword-related articles:
Good Keywords Sell
Good Keywords Sell, Part 2
Why Was My Image Rejected for Keywords?
Improve Your Sales with Keywording
Improve Your Sales with Keywording, Part 2
Improve Your Sales with Keywording, Part 3