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Some Words About Keywording

Published by Heather Balmain · April 23rd 2014

You have taken the perfect shot, uploaded it to your 500px account, and now you are ready to license it on 500px Prime.

But how can you be sure your image will be seen by customers? Keywords.

Tagging your images with the right keywords will increase their visibility by ensuring they appear in relevant search results. The wrong keywords, or worse, too few keywords, could be detrimental to your sales.

Although it can seem tedious and it may be tempting to skip it altogether, effective keywording is a critical step in preparing your images to be licensed. By keeping it simple and sticking to the facts, keywording can, and should, be a painless part of your workflow.

The DOs:
  • Describe what you see
  • Stick to the facts
  • Use conceptual keywords
  • Know when to stop
  • Check for spelling errors
  • Be careful when batch keywording

The DON’Ts:
  • Describe your camera equipment with keywords
  • Keyword brand names
  • List your business name
  • “Spam” your images

Describe what you see by asking yourself: Who? What? When? Where? Why?
Who or what is the subject of your image? Start by describing your subject in the most basic terms e.g. Skyscraper, Tower, City. Keywording is most effective when you describe the relevant attributes of your image, the ones that really stand out. Stick to what you immediately see and resist the urge to fill your keywords with less valuable information by describing the less significant details. This is true of any image whether its a landscape, still life, or portrait.

When was the picture taken? Tagging “day” or “night” is good but it’s also a great idea to be more specific about the time of day using descriptors like morning, sunrise, dawn, etc. Or if the season is prominent in the picture include the tags that apply, e.g. a scenic image of colourful trees in autumn could be tagged with the words Autumn, Fall, Colourful, Seasonal. However, keep in mind that seasons vary in different parts of the world so if it is not obvious in the photo there is no benefit in tagging it.

Where was your photo taken? The question of geographical location is geared towards landscapes, cityscapes, or any image taken outdoors where this information lends obvious context to the photo. With landscapes, the location and setting are the sole subject of the photo making this information even more vital.

Asking yourself “Why?” refers to what is happening in the photo. Describe the action you see: are your models interacting? What are they doing? Is your picture illustrating a particular event? This information should be reflected in your keywords too, although it must be evident to the viewer and not a vague or subtle suggestion of what is taking place.

Using conceptual keywords
Many buyers will know exactly what they are looking for, but many will also be seeking inspiration for their projects and may choose to search by a concept or theme. These tags are not literal, they are words or phrases that convey a clear concept like “the road less travelled” or “thinking ahead”. Buyers will search for the most commonly used phrases so be sure your concept is a familiar (and relevant!) one and not something obscure that only you would know.

No need to separate each word with a comma, as the search engine will pick up exact matches only. The following is a good example, if you were describing a dirt road in the countryside you might use keywords like “road, countryside, rural, the road less traveled, field” etc.

Know when to stop
In general, 10 - 25 keywords would be ideal to describe most images. Just as having too few keywords can be harmful to your sales, so can having too many. Too many excess keywords can dilute the search resulting in your images being pushed further down the page.

Check for spelling errors
Double check your spelling! If English isn’t your first language consider using a translation tool such as Word Reference or similar to ensure you have the right words and correct spelling. The desire to keyword your image in your native language is natural but, unfortunately, our search engine recognizes English words only. Words that are accented have a tendency to become truncated meaning the search engine cannot read them.

Keywording Examples: Below we have provided several visual references with corresponding DOs and DON’Ts underneath to better illustrate the points mentioned above.

DO: Woman, Mother, Mom, Mum, Parent, Adult, Child, Baby, Family, Happy, Happiness, Bonding, Closeness, Togetherness, Embrace, Hug, Love, Smile, Smiling, Summer, Sunset, Sunshine, Golden, Warm Light, Backlit, Outside,
DON’T: Trees, Road, Street, Hair, Sock, Hood, Stripes, Pacifier

DO: Woman, Female, Adult, Young Adult, 20-29 years, One Person, Model, Portrait, Studio, African, Black Hair, Curly Hair, Brown Eyes, Makeup, Make-up, South Africa, Confident, Confidence, Individuality, Simplicity, Beauty, Casual Clothing, T-Shirt, Head and Shoulders, Front View, Looking at Camera, Black and White, B&W, Monochrome, White Background,
DON’T: Ethnicity, Ethnic, Daughter, Friend, Glamour, Bored

DO: Toronto, Ontario, Canada, North America, City, Cityscape, Skyline, Architecture, Building, Skyscraper, Office Tower, High Rise, Dusk, Dawn, Twilight, Modern, Contemporary, Design, Business, Finance, Illuminated, Travel, Travel and Tourism, Travel Destination, City Life, Urban, Sprawling, Elevated View, High Angle View, Blue, Blue Hour
DON’T: Traffic, Windows, Glass, Winter, Cold, Lake Ontario, People

DO: NYC, New York City, New York, USA, United States, America, North America, City, Capital City, Manhattan, Empire State Building, One World Trade Centre, Freedom Tower, Skyscraper, Buildings, Office Tower, High Rise, Skyline, Cityscape, Sky, Clouds, Morning, Dawn, Sunrise, Bird, Seagull, Bird's Eye View, Elevated View, Freedom, Travel, Travel and Tourism, Travel Destination, Famous Place, Tourist Attraction, International Landmark,
DON’T: Avian, Feathers, Rockefeller Centre, Hudson River, States

DO: Abu Dhabi, UAE, United Arab Emirates, Middle East, Gulf Country, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Mosque, Building, Architecture, Architectural Feature, Dome, Minaret, Gold, Ornate, Traditional, Detail, Sunrise, Morning, Holy Place, Place of Worship, Faith, Religious, Religion, Spirituality, Islam, Peace, Tranquility, Sacred, Landmark,
DON’T: Landscape, Prayer, Praying, Pilgrimage, Quiet, Sky, Clouds, Blue

DO: Haew Narok Waterfall, Khao Yai National Park, Prachinburi, Thailand, Southeast Asia, Asia, Khao Yai, National Park, Waterfall, Water, Cascade, Flowing, Cliff, Ravine, Mist, Forest, Trees, Jungle, Rainforest, Tropical, Lush, Mountain, Hill, Hillside, Landscape, Rock, Nature, Scenic, Exploration, Adventure, Travel, Travel and Tourism, Travel Destination, UNESCO, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Natural Landmark, Green, Vibrant, Rainbow, Elevated View, High Angle View
DON’T: Amazing, Summer, Hot, Vacation, Bangkok

DO: Bagan, Myanmar, Burma, Mandalay, Asia, Southeast Asia, Hot Air Balloon, Field, Trees, Sunset, Sunrise, Pagoda, Temple, Buddhist Temple, Building, Architecture, Traditional, Ancient, Historic, Historical, Heritage, Buddhism, Sacred, Holy Place, Spiritual, Religious, Atmospheric, Backlit, Silhouette, Fog, Haze, Warm Tone, Golden Hour, Golden, Scenic, Landscape, View, Vista, Breathtaking, Tranquil, Tranquility, Serene, Serenity, Elevated View, Adventure, Freedom, Travel, Tourism, Travel Destination
DON’T: Grass, People, Transportation, Cityscape, Nature

DO: Upper Antelope Canyon, Arizona, USA, United States, North America, Antelope Canyon, Slot Canyon, Navajo, Sandstone, Erosion, Geology, Sand, Rock, Rock Formation, Sunlight, Long Exposure, Orange, Red, Vibrant, Natural Landmark, Travel, Tourism, Travel Destination, Tranquil, Serene, Arid
DON’T: Religious, Rock Climbing, Hiking, Summer, Sunset

DO: Elephant, Animal, Wildlife, Baby Animal, Trunk, Chiang Mai, Thailand, Asia, Southeast Asia, Happy, Smiling, Bonding, Togetherness, Connection, Friendship, Playful, Cute, Pair, Close-up, Grey
DON’T: Ground, Leaf, Toes, Herd, Family, Babies

DO: Polar Bear, Bear, Animal, Wildlife, Nature, Water, Underwater, Submerged, Swim, Swimming, Dive, Bubbles, White, Blue, Predator, Powerful, Aquatic, Refreshing, Cold,
DON’T: Iceberg, Ear, Nose, Fur, Environmental Issues, freezing

DO: Dandelion, Taraxacum, Weed, Plant, Seed, Uncultivated, Nature, Growth, Texture, Softness, Fragility, Delicate, Simplicity, Close-up,
DON’T: Beautiful, Beauty, Garden, Toronto, Canada,

DO: Muesli, Granola, Cereal, Milk, Dairy, Blueberry, Berry, Fruit, Breakfast, Healthy, Food, Snack, Spoon, Nutrition, Nutritious, Spoon, Spoonful, Close-up
DON’T: Bowl, yogurt, white, diet, vegetarian, table

April Deals to Celebrate!

Published by Alexandra Kim · April 16th 2014

Hey everyone!

We're happy to present you with some great deals that will be available from Thursday morning ET, April 17 until Monday at midnight ET, April 21. There’s something for everyone!

For the passionate photographer:

Get 25% off any Plus or Awesome account upgrades! Our Plus and Awesome plans offer comprehensive and supportive tools to help any amateur or professional photographer.

For the photography collector:

Purchase a beautiful print from your favorite 500px photographer at 25% off at 500px Art. These beautiful pieces of art can brighten any room, from your bedroom to your living room to your office.

Looking to give a gift?

Gift a 25% off 500px Plus or Awesome account to your photographer friend or family member!

And maybe the best deal yet... Purchase a print of your own photograph for a loved one at 25% off, plus an additional 35% off!

So tell us, what deal will you be taking advantage of this long weekend?


500px Shop Addition: the Photographer's Pouch

Published by Alexandra Kim · April 15th 2014

500px Shop offers you the best photography supplements, carefully curated by our team. We’ll introduce high quality and useful products to make your lives easier and your photography experiences even more amazing.

Today we bring you the Photographer’s Pouch, designed and produced by Will Kortum. We caught up with him to talk about his product and his love of photography.

Hi Will! Can you tell us about your product, The Photographer's Pouch?

Hi! The Photographer’s Pouch is a small felt pouch measuring 9 x 15cm with a Velcro back that allows it to stick inside of most camera bags. It can be used to hold anything from business cards to average-sized point and shoots.

How did you come up with this idea?

I first came up with the Photographer’s Pouch through frustration with my camera bag. Its design is very open with few spots to put small things in, so I would always end up throwing little accessories like lens caps and filters directly into the bag and on top of my cameras. Over time, my bag would become messier and messier. I designed the pouch to remedy this problem and to help me keep a tidier and more organized bag.

Why did you choose to use felt as the material?

I chose smooth felt because I wanted something that would be soft enough to protect lenses, filters, and cameras from scratches but that would be less prone to sticking to Velcro. The Photographer’s Pouches do stick together, but are very easy to take apart- unlike the strong bond created between camera bag liner and Velcro.

So you're a photographer yourself. What is your favorite type of photography?

I primarily shoot street photography, but I’ve been experimenting with urban landscapes recently. I’m a student so I don’t have a huge amount of free time to shoot, but when I can it is usually on the streets. I also love the works of Jean Gaumy and Ragnar Axelsson though, which is more social documentary photography.

What do you shoot with?

For the past 7 months or so, I was shooting almost exclusively Neopan 400 in my Leica M6 and two Ricoh GR1’s, but I’ve recently been focusing more on color work. Nowadays, I usually shoot with my M6 (loaded with Velvia 100), a Sony RX1, and a Ricoh GR1s (loaded with Neopan). The GR1 has a near-permanent place in my pocket.

How do you use The Photographer's Pouch?

I use three pouches in my bag when I’m out shooting. One for batteries, filters, and lens caps, one for business cards, and one for either my GR1 or a flash.

Can you give us an example of a time that this Pouch really helped improve your lifestyle as a photographer?

I don’t lose as many lens caps, and my bag is tidier. I also don’t have to worry about taking my camera out and having a bunch of business cards and batteries fall out.

What is your favorite thing about photography?

First and foremost, I think that photography is fun. This isn’t a really “deep” answer, but I think that something really has to be fun for one to truly like it. Whether it is walking around the streets and taking portraits or looking over newly developed slides at 1 in the morning, I really have fun doing it.

On a deeper level, I really appreciate the human interaction that photography brings. When I am out shooting, I love to have conversations with the people that I’m photographing. I think that having a conversation with someone who you generally wouldn’t is a really positive thing.

Any advice for up and coming photographers?

I consider myself an up and coming photographer, so I can’t really offer much. I do have two pieces of advice, though: Read photo books and don’t get caught up in gear. My friend, street photographer Eric Kim, always says that you are what you eat. If you only look at junky photos, your photos won’t improve. Looking at the work of the masters such as Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Frank has improved my photography more than I can say.

If you’re just starting a photo book library, I would strongly recommend ordering the book Magnum Contact Sheets. It is really expensive for a book at $90, but worth every penny. The “list of Magnum photographers” page on Magnum’s website is another fantastic resource for improving your work. While I don’t think that looking at photos online can compare to reading a book, it is free after all.

I’m incredibly hypocritical about getting caught up in gear. I have extreme GAS (gear acquisition syndrome) and am guilty of owning several more cameras than I need. The truth is, you really only need one camera to produce good work, and your work will be even better if you do so. Having a visual consistency is very important and sticking with one camera and one lens really helps.

Secondly, nearly every new >micro 4/3 camera out there has better, or similar at least, image quality to 35mm film. The masters of photography have been shooting with film for years and their photos are great. Image quality, in the end, doesn’t matter too much. The legendary Japanese photographer Daido Moriyama shoots with a $100 Canon point and shoot. Shoot with what you have and read photo books!

Awesome advice. Thanks Will!

You can buy a Photographer’s Pouch at 500px Shop for $11 or a pack of three for $29.

Sneak Peek: 500px Shop

Published by Alexandra Kim · April 10th 2014

500px Shop is a project aimed at bringing high quality, highly curated products to our amazing photography community. We're excited to unveil our first product today, brought to you by Fotolanthropy.

One of the best things about photography is that it can be beautiful and powerful at the same time. Great photos tell stories words can’t. They can inspire people to do great things.

That’s why we love Fotolanthropy! This is a non-profit organization of photographers across the United States who donate their time and talents to capture the stories of those who inspire them.

The founders of Fotolanthropy, Katie and Brooke, created FOTO Strap: a socially responsible brand of camera straps dedicated to donating 10% of every sale to their non-profit. At the same time, they provide their customers with a collection of high quality, fashionable camera straps to complement everyday dress!

FOTO Straps are vintage inspired, real leather straps that are offered in a variety of colors. Get your FOTO Strap on 500px Shop and stay posted for new products coming soon!


Introducing: 500px ISO

Published by Alexandra Kim · April 8th 2014

Today we’re excited to announce the birth of our new publication: 500px ISO.

500px ISO is home to the best photo stories on the web. We surface the unique, crazy, and beautiful stories that result in the photos you see on 500px. You’ll meet the people behind the lens and discover how they capture the photos that blow your mind every day. From tutorials to collections and beyond, 500px ISO aspires to be your go-to source for everything photography.

To help us celebrate, we’ve asked some of our good friends that we’ve featured on the 500px blog in the past to create an exclusive photo for our launch. We will be revealing these for the next couple days, so be sure to check back with us every day! The first photo we’re revealing today is by the incomparable oprisco. Check out 500px ISO to see the photo.

What will the blog be used for now?
The blog is still sticking around, don't worry! We'll be using this place to keep you informed of new company and product updates, so be sure to keep coming back.

How do I contribute to 500px ISO?
First, thank you! Last month, we published an article on how to submit tutorials to be considered by our editorial team. This still applies! Please send us your submissions. We'd love to hear from you.

How do I keep up to date with 500px ISO and let you know my thoughts about it?
As you've always done: Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Email

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