As photographers, we can spend huge amounts of time post I processing our images, and we are eager to share them once it is done. Before uploading your new image to your favorite social media, take some time to check the metadata. Here is a little Q&A:
What is metadata?
When you export an image as a JPEG for example, your software creates a file on your computer that contains information. Most of this information is the actual image, and each of its pixels. But there is more: to help other software and websites understand the file, there is also information that you cannot see when viewing the image. This is metadata. It can be many things: title, description, resolution, date, compression, location, copyright and more…
Why should I think about metadata?
There are several reasons why you should be checking metadata. The most obvious is that search engines scan metadata, so adding keywords, a description or the size of the image will help people reach your images. This means more potential views, both on your website and on social media.
Another reason to add metadata to your images is that it usually stays with the image even if it is reshared. You can for example add copyright information that will stay with your image (some websites do remove metadata though).
Some of the metadata can be viewed in your file explorer on Windows on Mac when clicking on JPEG files. It also shows up in the properties of the file.
How can I change the metadata of my images?
Software that let you organize your images such as Lightroom, Bridge or even Picasa usually allow you to modify metadata. The process is different depending on the software, but it is usually fairly simple.
What metadata should I change?
You can virtually change the entire metadata of an image, but it is hardly necessary. Here are a few suggestions:
- Title: if you give a title, that’s where you should put it.
- Caption or description: great spot to describe your image, often picked up by websites when you upload.
- Keywords: very handy for web search and for stock photography websites.
- Copyright: to protect your images.
- Location: if you want to geo-tag your images.
- Rating: for your own records, it can help sort your images.
How do I do this in Adobe Lightroom?
I will only cover Adobe Lightroom because it is the software I am using. In Lightroom, the metadata can be viewed and modified on the right panel in the develop module. There are 3 sections that we are going to look at: Keywording, Keyword List and Metadata.
The Keywording Section helps you add keywords to the image currently selected (it can be more than one). If you already have keywords for other images, Lightroom will suggest keywords while you are adding some.
The Keyword List is quite handy to curate all keywords of your catalog. You can add new ones, order them hierarchically, see all images that have a specific keyword, etc.
The Metadata Section lists all the metadata of the image(s) currently selected.
The top left drop down menu is where you choose what type of metadata to display. I have it on “EXIF and IPTC” to view most of it. You can also create presets that automatically fill certain fields.
As you can see on the image above, I have the rating, the title and the caption all filled. I also add my contact information:
At the very bottom is the copyright information. Here is how I use it, feel free to adapt it to your own use:
Finally, I always geo-tag my images, using the Maps Module in Lightroom. It is using Google Maps and you can search for locations. You just have to drop the picture on the map and Lightroom automatically adds location data to the image.