Finding images: keywords and categories

Finding photographs

As a Civil Society Member (CSM) or Other Media Buyer, all you need to do to find images is enter a keyword or key phrase into the 'Keyword Search' box to the right. Alternatively, you can browse through the site’s categories. These categories can be accessed via the drop-down menu under ‘Gallery’ above, or the 'Category Quick Jump' menu to the right. It's much easier to use the keywords though!

How to make sure your photographs can be found

As a photographer, there are a number of things you can do to maximise the chance of someone finding and downloading your image:

  • Keywording

The main thing that you need to do is to create a comprehensive list of ‘keywords’ for your image. These are any words or phrases that someone looking for an image like yours might type into a search engine, so it’s a good idea to spend some time thinking about just who might be looking and why. Good key-wording is something of an art! 

Protestors at 2011 Durban climate change summit demand the oil is kept in the soil.

Take the above image, for example. This was taken by Luka Tomac, at the UNFCCC COP-17 in Durban, South Africa, in November/December 2011.

Firstly, it is important to note that this image is an editorial image, suitable for use in news media and non-commercial campaign materials. This means you do not have to have a signed 'model release' from the people appearing in the photograph. On the other hand, this type of photograph must always be displayed with a credit – the name of the photographer, agency and website (eg Critical Information Collective) that the photograph was sourced from.

Your keywords should be specific to the image, but they can also include a wide range of data including about the subject(s) in the image, information about you and your organisation, and information about the location where the photograph was taken.

So, a sample set of keywords/phrases (usually separated by commas or semi-colons) for the above image could be:

Climate, climate change, climate justice, climate justice now, UNFCCC, COP, COP 17, COP-17, climate summit, climate meeting, demonstration, protest, demonstrators, protestors, banner, banners, oil, fossil fuels, keep the oil in the soil, groundwork, South African Waste Pickers Association, SAWPA, Luka Tomac, Tomac.

Now you need to input the keywords. You can attach them to your image as part of its ‘IPTC’ information (see below), or you can cut and paste them into the form you need to fill in on this website when you upload your photograph. You don't need to do both.

  • Embedding ‘IPTC’ information into your actual image

Embedding your keywords and other written information in the photograph's 'IPTC' data is the best option, because that information will then be transferred with the photograph wherever it goes. IPTC stands for International Press Telecommunications Council.

Besides adding keywords to your IPTC data, you can include other data including information about yourself, where you are from and your contact details; the caption associated with the image; and the name, description and location of the subject of your image.

To enter the IPTC data, you need to look for a menu option in the image editing software on your computer that says something similar to ‘file info’. You can find guidelines here.

  • Choosing appropriate categories

You also need to decide where in the CIC Image Library you want to put your image — this means you need to select a category. For the image above, the category would be 'protest and resistance'/'Climate Justice Now'. (Please note we think it is useful to have all protest and resistance images grouped together, rather than spread across the site.)

We have tried to provide a comprehensive range of categories, mostly with just one layer of subcategories. You can view the full list of categories and subcategories by hovering over the ‘Categories’ list, which you can find in the drop-down menu under the ‘Gallery’ tab. To keep things relatively simple we are not creating categories for different countries, so please try to include the name of the country or region where you took the image in your keywords.

Unfortunately we cannot currently provide an option to ‘tag’ photos with a number of different categories, you do have to choose just one. But don’t worry about this too much. The keywords are more important.