If you want to find your photos and videos quickly, you first need to get organized. And what’s the key to organizing all of those photos and videos? Metadata.
Metadata makes your files searchable. No more sifting through nested folders, hard drives and email inboxes when you’re in a hurry to find the right photo to send to a reporter or post on social media. With the right metadata, you can find your images in a flash – or perhaps, in the case of the National Aquarium, in a splash.
We sat down with digital asset management expert Peter Krogh and the National Aquarium’s Manager of Visual Productions David Coffey for an exclusive webinar on how to set your team up for success with metadata. You can watch the on-demand version here.
You’ll learn tips and best practices for organizing your brand’s visual media library. Plus, you’ll get to see a fantastic example for your brand to follow.
When we recorded the webinar, our listeners asked a ton of great questions – so many that we ran out of time! We took all of those questions and followed up with the presenters. Here are all your metadata questions answered by David Coffey and Peter Krogh.
Your Metadata Questions Answered
Suggestions on educating end users on keyword structure?
Peter: If you have a limited set of important keywords, then a great way to make them discoverable is to create galleries that have the keyword as a name. This is the most easily-discovered way to make use of your existing keywords.
If you can’t do that (e.g. the list is too long to replicate in Galleries), then you might consider creating your own custom help document and linking it to the site through a custom menu item.
Kristin: An easy way to create galleries based on keywords is to search for a keyword in your library, select all the results, and add them to another gallery. Check out this GIF to see how you can do this in a few seconds:
Do you have an individual name/title for every photo?
David: Each photo has an individual name.
Peter: You definitely need to have unique names. You can use a date as a component of a name to help ensure uniqueness. There are many applications that can do batch file renaming and generate unique file names.
What is a good practice for labelling the photo’s filename to make it more searchable?
Peter: Because the library is hosted on Libris, and because the National Aquarium has such good metadata, they don’t really use file names for making images discoverable. This is actually best practice for image libraries. The most important trait of a file name is to be unique. It’s hard to make them descriptive and yet unique. And even your operating system will search keywords and captions, so descriptive file names are really not needed.
The one exception is images you want to post to the web and wish to be discoverable by content. Google does weight file names more than keywords, so it may be useful to use descriptive file names if you want to be found by strangers on the web. But for internal use, metadata is much more capable.
I saw some specific information in some of the keyword panels that often are kept in specific fields like date and location or even people’s names that are often in captions. Can you discuss the decision to make that information keywords? Was there a desire to keep searching entirely in keywords?
Peter: There are some advantages to adding data to keywords that may also be duplicated in other fields. It’s easy to assign quickly and is very easy to search on Libris.
In the case of the Aquarium, they have a lot of images in Libris that don’t have captions – they use keywords instead. It’s just faster to create the information. However, if an images is going to be sent out for the press, they will typically add a caption.
Does Lightroom’s face recognition feature help ID key people in the organization when photographed?
Peter: The problem with any face tagging application is that it needs to have a good sample of the people who need tagging in order to be helpful. This means it’s really good for a family archive, but less useful for an institutional media collection where there are likely to be a lot of non-repeating, or seldom-repeating faces.
We put names of non-VIP, non-executive people in captions so they don’t “pollute” our keyword set in Lightroom. Captions on Libris are also searched just as keywords, and retain their entered order for ID-ing people “left-to-right” in group shots.
Peter: I like the left-to-right strategy, but I don’t see the problem with keyword pollution here. If someone is important enough to get ID-ed in a caption, then they are probably worth adding as a keyword.
There are two reasons for this. The first is that having the name as a keyword allows you to drag-to-tag in Lightroom, which lets you assign it to images that you may not have the time to type a full caption for.
The second reason to keep it as a keyword is to make it a clickable search term in Libris as we showed in the webinar.
If you are worried about making your Lightroom keyword list too long, then just drop all your people names into a “People” container keyword. Fold it up when you don’t need to add or browse. (Also make sure to set the keyword properties to “Do not export” so that the container keyword does not pollute the keywords shown in Libris.)
Are the images keyworded directly in Libris? or other software?
Peter: Most of the data is done to images before they are uploaded to Libris, but the Aquarium also does some metadata work inside Libris.
Kristin: To give you an idea of how they break it up, metadata on the Aquarium’s metadata policy is often applied during the editing process in Lightroom, then exported straight to Libris with the image. Metadata that is useful to specific teams might be applied in Libris. (Hear more on this topic from David by watching the webinar.)
We work with freelance photogs who shoot hundreds of photos, only a few handfuls of which end up in our collection. Best practices for this process? What happens to the photos that don’t make it into the collection?
David: We’re still refining our workflow in this respect. Currently we ask photographers to narrow down their photos to any that could be useful in the future, weeding out unusable photos. These are exported and renamed using our naming structure. We store those raw images on an external drive, backed up to another drive onsite, and a virtual server. Once we make selects, those images are processed with their original names, even if they aren’t sequential, and added to Libris with metadata.
Do you add every acceptable photograph from a shoot to the gallery? Allowing for example the ability for designers to choose between vertical and horizontal versions.
David: We’re still streamlining this process, but we work closely with the design team to pick selects from larger contact sheets, so they’ll try to preserve as many usable options as necessary, depending on the shoot and anticipated future uses.
We noticed you had a folder from 75-99. Were those prints you digitized?
David: Yes, we were sending out images to be digitized until 2006 or so. In 1999, all images from 1975 on were digitized at the same time, so their EXIF data of exact date they were shot all points to 1999. Some images had specific years in their metadata, but as a whole they’re unfortunately more inexact.
Do you use lightboxes as a way of sharing images internally?
David: We experimented with Lightboxes, and are starting to incorporate them into our select process so we can all collaborate more effectively. We found that using them to share images wasn’t intuitive for most of our users, and didn’t allow for downloads, so it made more sense to ask users to request images based on name, or attaching screenshots of images they were looking for.
Learn More Tips and Best Practices
Thank you for your fantastic questions! Feel free to tweet more questions at @getlibris and we’ll get you the answers.
This webinar is part of our series, Libris Visual Storytelling Webinars. Check out our first webinar, 17 Hacks for 2017: How to Win with Visual Storytelling.
And to learn more about metadata and organizing your library, check out our Up and Running with DAM series with Peter Krogh.
Cover photo courtesy of the National Aquarium.