You need fast access to your brand’s media, and the best way to power fast search is – without a doubt – metadata.
Metadata is data that describes other data. For example, a caption or a keyword that describes an image. It allows you to type a word into a search box and return a wide range of creative assets. Bottom line: it empowers you to save time and tell your brand’s story faster.
The problem is, a lot of people find metadata a little intimidating. As digital asset management expert Peter Krogh says, the idea of organizing your entire media library with metadata can feel like “drinking from the firehose.”
Here’s the good news: you use metadata every day, whether you know it or not. Watch the video to see what I mean, and get three secrets for tagging your files.
Now, let’s break it down. Read through our metadata basics, or scroll to get our pro tips for advanced PhotoShelter for Brands (formerly known as Libris) users. Don’t have a media library with PhotoShelter yet? Book a demo!
The Basics: Metadata
Tagging your files is well worth the investment. Putting in the time to tag your assets will save you – and anyone who searches your media library, ranging from your internal staff to your external stakeholders – an immeasurable amount of time in the future. It will also ensure you’re not duplicating costs by recreating assets you already have but can’t find. Plus, metadata also provides valuable context and helps your team keep track of the history behind your creative assets.
EXIF, IPTC and Custom Metadata
Metadata is made up of fields and tags, and there are different types of metadata. Let’s break down three different types of metadata: EXIF, IPTC and custom metadata.
EXIF is data that is automatically recorded by the device that produced the file. It cannot be altered by most image editing software, nor PhotoShelter. This includes fields such as Camera Model, ISO, X Resolution and Y Resolution.
IPTC Photo Metadata is the standardized way to tag image files. You can add and edit IPTC metadata in PhotoShelter, as well as common photo editing software like Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom, Photo Mechanic.
Your PhotoShelter admin, editors and taggers can all edit IPTC metadata in the backend of your Library. You can edit metadata in batch or on individual images.
Any existing IPTC metadata will be uploaded to PhotoShelter when you upload a file. When you download an image from your PhotoShelter Library, you can choose whether or not to download it with any IPTC metadata edits you’ve made in PhotoShelter. (Note: Any IPTC metadata edits you’ve made in PhotoShelter will be applied automatically when someone downloads the image from the Portal.)
Custom metadata allows you to create your own fields and tags. It helps you make sure images are tagged the same way every time, and helps cut down on typos. When people are searching for assets, they can choose a tag from a custom metadata field dropdown menu so they don’t have to guess how your team tags images. It’s not a replacement for IPTC metadata because, since it’s not an industry standard, it’s not embedded in your images (and therefore doesn’t stay with the file after it’s downloaded from PhotoShelter). We recommend using custom metadata tags in tandem with your keywords (which will also ensure an image will appear if someone types a keyword in the search box, rather than using the custom metadata dropdown menu).
Getting Started with Metadata
When you’re first getting started with metadata, DAM expert Peter Krogh recommends that you focus on the high value images.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the process of tagging files when you’re looking at your team’s entire media library. Start by tagging the files you use all the time – your logo, your homepage video, your best set of brand photos. This will give you a quick return on your investment – if people can easily find the images they used to request all the time on their own, they will be early adopters of your newly organized media library.
The Importance of a Metadata Policy
If metadata has the power to turn your media library into an arsenal of creative assets that are always at your fingertips, then a metadata policy is your secret weapon.
A metadata policy is a written document that serves as a guide for everyone interacting with your media library. It informs how your team tags images, and how internal and external stakeholders search for assets when they need to use them.
A metadata policy makes working with creative assets more efficient, and as DAM expert Peter Krogh explains, even the process of building one can be useful to your organization.
5 Pro Tips for Advanced PhotoShelter Users
Now that you’ve got a basic understanding of metadata and why it’s important, let’s dive into some pro tips so you can make the most of your media library.
1. Add metadata in batch when you upload a shoot.
Whether you’re using a real-time workflow during an event or uploading an archive folder from your desktop, add metadata in batch every time you upload a set of images. Taking a minute or two to add a few tags will save you hours in the long run.
2. Remember, not all IPTC fields appear on the Portal.
While your backend Library users – your admin, editors and taggers – can see all of the standard IPTC fields, only certain fields appear on the Portal.
The following fields are displayed on the Portal:
- Uploaded date
- Modified date
- Image Size
If you want certain tags to be visible to your invited users when they are browsing on the Portal, make sure you add those tags to one of these fields.
3. Keep in mind that not all fields are indexed for search in PhotoShelter.
The following fields are searchable in PhotoShelter:
Pro Tip: If you want to be able to search for a term within a singular IPTC Metadata field (for example, Keywords but not Description/Caption) make sure the words you have typed in the Keywords box are not also typed in the Description/Caption (and vice versa).
Similarly, if you have important information that you want to be searchable in the Copyright or Credit/Provider fields, be sure to also add that information to a searchable field, like Keywords.
4. Video doesn’t have standardized metadata fields, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make your videos searchable.
Unlike still images, video does not (yet) have standardized metadata fields. But in PhotoShelter, we’ve created some basic fields to help make your video files, as well as your audio files, Adobe InDesign files, Microsoft Office documents, etc., searchable.
You can apply and edit the following metadata fields for video and other non-image files:
This way, you can use keywords to find every file you need for a project or topic – not just images.
Keep in mind, you can’t edit video metadata in batch.
5. Use custom metadata to make it easier for your invited users to search the Portal.
When an invited user searches your PhotoShelter Portal for the first time, you can help them ease in with custom metadata. When they can simply select a tag from a dropdown menu, they don’t have to guess how your team tags images.Pro Tip: You can decide which custom metadata fields are visible to only to your backend library staff, and which fields are visible on the Portal. If you want to make a field available to your invited users, make sure you hit the button to make it visible on the Portal.