What? Keywording? I thought I was a photographer!

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So you’ve done your shoot and if like me, you’ve toiled with Photoshop. Right, lets send those amazing pics to the world. Wait, you can’t. You have to keyword your images, using words that you think a potential buyer will use in their search. What if I spent my youth bunking off school and my spelling is terribul? What if I’m Japanese or Russian and my knowledge of English isn’t as good as an American, hang on I’m English, I should be saying an Englishman. Well my amazing pics would be missed and the fat cats would stay fat and my cat would not be fed.

But hold your horses, Dreamstime will come to your rescue. They will do the keywording for you, but you will have to pay them, because they have many cats to feed. Not sure why i’m rambling on about cats so much, I’m more of a dog man myself. Dreamstime says in their paid service “The tedious task of completing the info. for the image will be taken over by our KeyMasters team”. The KeyMasters team! They sound like a fun bunch to hang out with. Shouldn’t the Microstock sites be doing the keywording anyway? Every time one of my pics gets downloaded on their sites, they get 50%, often even more, already sounds like a good deal to me. Anyway, this is already a well established industry and it’s too late to rock the boat about this issue. It is however a real time consuming, monotonous chore.

Oh! by the way, about the bad spelling thing, Dreamstime has a relatively useful spell checker tool, however it does not accept a lot of place names or names of things that aren’t famous like the “Taj Mahal”. If you put them in, they will stop you from editing your keywords in the future. Although I just tried “Jakarta” and it seems to accept that. Aha, it doesn’t accept “Kuala Lumpur” and “Phnom Penh”. You can however, add the place names and the not so famous things, after the photos get accepted, but it’s an additional annoyance about the whole process. 123rf doesn’t allow for any keyword changes once a photo has been accepted, which is annoying to say the least. However, I did write to support once to ask them to change a mistake, I didn’t put a space between two keywords, so it read as one keyword. To my surprise they changed it. Not sure how pleased they’d be if I wrote on a more frequent basis though.

iStockphoto asks you questions for every keyword you enter, I find it so difficult to keep awake during the process. Not only do they want you to do the keywording yourself, but they want you to jump through hoops with a glass of water balanced on your head. “But it’s for you own benefit” they might cry, yes probably and for the benefit of the the buyers and the benefit of iStockphoto, but only the photographers have to do the circus act. Where are those KeyMaster experts when you need one?

Here’s what we have to go through.

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“Asian” Did you mean Asian Music, Asian Ethnicity, East Asian Culture or Asia? Would you like to be more specific?

Central Asia

East Asia

Southeast Asia

Indian Subcontinent

Middle East


“Are you sure you want to continue with this? This is a very long process.”

“female” Did you mean Female (Human Gender) or Female (Animal)? Would you like to be more specific?








Nanny Goat

“We really don’t need your images, give up now and return to your life!”

“homes” Did you mean Home Interior (Built Structure), Residential Structure (Built Structure) or House (Residential Structure)?

Would you like to be more specific?

Moroccan Riad


Semi-Detached House

Row House

Detached House



Trulli House

Snout House

“Look, we’ve already got Yuri and his team, don’t even think about continuing.”

“smile” Did you mean Smiley Face (Anthropomorphic Face) or Smiling (Facial Expression)?

Would you like to be more specific?


Toothy Smile

Cheesy Grin

“I don’t know what I mean anymore. I’ve been staring at this screen so long, I can’t remember what a smile looks like.”

Anyway, finally I’ve done my keywords and all their meanings and made sure I’ve got less than 50 as requested. I’ve filled the category section, written a description and titled the photograph, oh and I’ve added the model release form which will be uploaded when I send the pic. Ok, I’m there, I can hardly see, but I’m there and I’m going to send this photo whether they like it or not. Ok send. Mmmm why has it not sent yet? Oh yeah that’s right, it’s uploading the model release form. Ok a new page is appearing on screen, this will be the sent page.


Errors were encountered:

* You cannot enter more than 50 unique keywords (single words or phrases). Please ensure that your submission follows the guidelines provided by iStockphoto.

I did, I did! It even said that I had entered 49 tags on the description page. And they’ve wiped out all the information that I spent eons filling in. Aahh! this is too much!

Does anybody want to buy a camera?

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8 thoughts on “What? Keywording? I thought I was a photographer!


    Great post – first one I’ve read by you and I hope many more – adding you to my blog reader. Good stuff. Keep writing like this!

  2. There is even a worse thing. Some sites want your keywords to be ranked in order of importance. So I wrote a script to just do that, and a bunch of other things like spullchekk, eleminate duplicates, edit, play with the sepators (commas, spaces, newlines) and much more. Use it together with Irfanview, et voilà.

    Of course it’s free and it’s written in javascript so you can download the script and use it offline in your browser.

    1. Wow FlemishDreams, I’m impressed. Well done. On first impressions it seems really useful. I will try to use it off-line later, if you’re giving it for free, the least we can do is save your band width. I love your disclaimer at the bottom, I was literally laughing for several minutes. “No animals were harmed in the making of this website, except the ones I ate during lunch breaks.”

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