Most of our traditional customers are news organizations that, thankfully, are now quite disciplined about adding descriptive metadata to images. That was not the case until the 1990’s. Up until the digital camera revolution, photographers would write caption information on their negative or film envelopes. The envelopes were then filed by date in a drawer and the prints usually had the caption that ran in the newspaper pasted onto the back. You had to remember when something was shot in order to find it.
After the news industry switched to digital cameras, most used photo editing programs to add metadata to the IPTC wrapper of the JPEG file, or added metadata once their selected images made it into a picture desk or archive. Of course adding metadata earlier in the process, is the best. But these are professional photographers who have lots of options of software packages to use.
Metadata is important, as it helps find images and content that is in a search-able database like the Merlin digital asset management system. So you might not remember the date of the event, but you might know the photographer, or the name of the person or the event where it was shot. All this information is search-able.
But what about our non-news organization customers? Some have professional photographers on staff who do add descriptions in a diligent manner. But what about the ones who get images submitted by amateurs? These contributors don’t have expensive desktop applications for adding captions. Although there are some very inexpensive even free metadata editors now, they might email or ftp pictures with no descriptions. Merlin does offer a web upload form so descriptions can be added before images are ingested, but people uploading have to have access to the system.
That’s why I say, wouldn’t it be great if digital cameras had a keypad or someway to add the photographer’s name in the camera? Maybe the name is added during initial set-up, but there is also a way to enter a brief boilerplate caption before or after you shoot a bunch of pictures and store the information in the IPTC header of the digital JPEG files. Maybe a soft keypad appears in the view screen like an iPhone. That way the information would travel with the pictures, wherever or however they were sent? Then digital asset management systems would already have search-able metadata that would help organize a collection.
Posted by Rande Simpson
Flickr photo by byrion