Adding detailed and relevant tags to your images gives them the best chance of commercial success. Learn how you should tag your shots with this in-depth guide

Beginner

Also commonly known as keywords, tags are one of the key pieces of information that will maximise the sales potential of your images.

Tags are used to help buyers find your shots within search results when you upload them to Picfair, or in any other image library or marketplace setting. And when it comes to Picfair, we ask for at least 5 tags to be included for each photo.

This guide gives you everything you need to know on how to tag your images. And includes information how tags work, why they are important, the dos and don'ts, and tagging case studies that can be applied across a multitude of photographic genres.

Note:

The information below includes some information specifically related to tagging your photos for Picfair, but you can apply much of this to tagging your images in other settings - such as social media, adding to image metadata in post production, and for agencies and libraries.


What are tags and why are they important?


Tags are words or short phrases that are used to describe the contents of an image.

Along with the title and caption, the tags are what the search tool will access when trying to deliver the most relevant images to buyers when searching the Picfair Marketplace, or in Picfair Plus Stores where search functionality is enabled. Including accurate and relevant tags is one of the most effective ways that you can maximise the sales potential of your photography.

Tags have long been an important tool that image buyers use when searching for pictures in image libraries, stores and marketplaces. So tagging (or keywording) an image as precisely as you can, will make all the difference when it comes to a buyer successfully finding and then potentially licensing your image.

How do I add tags to my images on Picfair?


We've made the process of adding tags to your images a quick and simple step on the image uploader.

Each tag should be inputted into the tag box, and needs to be separated by a comma for it to be recognised by the system (eg. tag1, tag2, tag3, tag4, tag5,).

You'll see that a tag has been recognised when it turns blue.

Note:

Hashtags (#) are not required for tags on Picfair.


When your'e adding tags to your images in Picfair's uploader, you'll be prompted to add tags until you've inputted at least 5.
Top Tip:

If you're adding the same tags to multiple images, you can easily copy and paste tags using the clipboard feature or your keyboard:

1. Add the tags to the first image
2. Click the clipboard logo image on that image
3. Click the tags section of another image
4. Paste - using either cmd+V (Mac), ctrl+V (PC) or Edit - Paste from the browser menu



Once you've added at least 5 tags, along with the necessary title and description information, your image will be ready to upload.

When adding tags, we ask for a minimum of 5, but you should add as many tags as necessary to clearly and accurately describe the contents of your image. You'll find how you can do this with help of this case study below.

Put yourself in an image buyer's shoes

One of the simplest ways to get your head around how to tag your images is to put yourself in the shoes of an image researcher or picture buyer.

Think like them. For example, if you were looking for images to illustrate a travel feature on Morocco, what tags might you use to try and find a suitable image?

An image buyer might look for images with tags based on the following:

- Place

You should tag a location-specific image with that particular area, city, region, and country.  Ask yourself also, does the image show a noteworthy street, famous landmark or building? If it does... include it as a tag!

All of this information is really important and should always be included in the tags.


- Background & Concept Tags

As important as highlighting any visible features in the photo, other tags describing relevant, but 'unseen' elements of the picture can be paramount to the image buyer.

For example, is a particular landmark in the photo famous or lesser-known? Are there any socio-geographic factors linked to the photograph? I.e. was the image taken in a working-class or affluent area? Or did a noteworthy event happen at that place? Does the scene depict a typical travel scenario or adventure?

Include tags to cover any important background elements to the story behind the image. Here are some great examples.


- Noteworthy Features of the Scene

Does the picture depict any traditional ways of life or typical scenes, or does the pic show something unusual or alternative? Does the image include a person, multiple people, a crowd or show anything noteworthy taking place? Include this in your tagging.


- Formal Elements

Does the image feature any patterns, architectural highlights, designs or obvious formal elements? Or are there any particularly dominant colours in the scene? These should be tagged and included in the tags.


- Background & Concept Tags

As important as highlighting any visible features in the photo, other tags describing relevant, but 'unseen' elements of the picture can be paramount to the image buyer.

For example, is a particular landmark in the photo famous or lesser-known? Are there any socio-geographic factors linked to the photograph? I.e. was the image taken in a working-class or affluent area? Or did a noteworthy event happen at that place? Does the scene depict a typical travel scenario or adventure?

Include tags to cover any important background elements to the story behind the image. See the visual examples below:

Melee in Marrakech from Jason Wells
Tags

Jemaa el Fnaa, Jemaa el-Fnaa, Marrakesh, Morocco, aerial view, Africa, city, city life, cityscape, cloud, colour, colour image, day, elevated view, explorer, focus on background, historic district, holiday, incidental people, international landmark, landscape, landscape format, looking over, main square, movement, moving, national landmark, outdoors, people, point of view, red city, square, street, tourism, town, town square, townscape, travel, travel destinations, travelling, UNESCO, unesco world heritage site, urban, vacations

Bahia Palace in Marrakesh, Morocco, from Marcin Jucha
Tags

Africa, Arabic, arch,
architecture, Bahia, Bahia Palace, Berber, building, courtyard, culture, destination, famous, fountain, garden, heritage, indoor, inside, Islamic, landmark, location, Marrakech, Moroccan, Morocco, mosaic, Muslim, old, oriental, ornament, palace, palm, sightseeing, sultan, tiles, tourism, traditional, travel

Moroccan man walking in a narrow street in the town of Chefchaouen in Morocco, North Africa, from Peek Creative Collective
Tags

Chefchaouen, Rif Mountains, Morocco, North Africa, town, city, buildings, landmark, travel, travel destinations, mountain village, blue, colour, colour, horizontal, buildings, architecture, Moroccan culture, developing countried, man, traditional, people, real people, Muslim, local people, old man

The important role of 'copy space' as a tag for images

Buyers are often looking for images where they can overlay editorial content to an image - just think of when you sift through a magazine and there is a stunning opening image with a text overlay or a front cover where the image really ‘pops out’, despite the multitude of text around the image.

Often buyers are looking for images where there is a ‘clean’ area to place copy: this is usually in the form of the sky or large blocks of a single colour in an image. Buyers use tags to find these sorts of images, especially when it comes to searching for prominent cover pics. The tags used are copy space, or copyspace - include both.

Here are some examples of images in the Picfair collection that include the tags copy space and/or copyspace:

Green wood panel frame with blank windows. Image by Nelson Art.
Single tree in frost and landscape in snow against blue sky. Image by Dan Mirica.
Close up of a Finnish Lapphund. Shot on a warm summer day in Sweden. Image from Anna Rebecka Lindberg.

Specifics details are important

As we have previously touched on; if you are photographing in a particular location, a specific building, person or covering an event. It is important to ensure that the specific names or events, people, and places are included as tags. Image buyers and our in-house researchers will always search for images with these types of tags.

As a rule of thumb, although we only require a minimum of 5 tags when uploading a pic, we recommend between 10 to 50 tags per image.

Some dos and don'ts when tagging images

Do:


- Tag your images with specifics:
When it comes to place, location, and event. Also if the image includes well-known work, such as a building designed by a famous architect – include this information.

- Include seasons and weather: Many image buyers work on features and campaigns based on particular seasons, and if this is particularly obvious in your photo – make sure that it is tagged as such.

- Include Latin names: For any flora and fauna shots wherever possible. When a buyer is looking for an extremely specific species, the Latin name is extremely important for buyers.

- Take extra care with photography of people: Make sure you are as specific as possible when it comes to tagging an image of a person. Tags describing gender, race, age, and appearance are all important - and are used regularly by buyers.

- Think of variations: Does a particular place in your photograph have two different, but very prominent names? If they do, include them both. For example, Holland and the Netherlands.

- Check spelling: A very simple, but a sure-fire way to make your hard work in tagging your images ineffective. Check your spelling - we cannot emphasise this one enough!

- Include variants of the same word: For common words that appear in image tags such as harbour/ harbor, and center/ centre. Include both the US and UK spellings - we have buyers all around the world who may search using either spelling.

- Make sure your caption is relevant to your tags: A few relevant words should be included as tags. Your caption should also be concise, and clear on what the image is showing.


Don't:


- Include conflicting information:
Do not be tempted to tag a generic landscape or scene as multiple places or countries. This becomes extremely confusing to picture researchers and buyers, who will not be able to trust the provenance of the image and therefore will be less likely to license the picture. This is also important with nature and wildlife photography; don’t tag animals or flowers as different species even if they look very similar - this is very unhelpful to the buyer.

- Add plurals: If an image contains multiples of a subject (for example, a shot of several cats) using the singular will suffice (e.g. cat). We automatically include plurals of words inputted as tags, so you can save yourself time!

- SPAM: Do not overload an image with irrelevant tags that have no connection to the image: this becomes very distracting and unhelpful to researchers and buyers when they need to trawl through inappropriate content when sourcing images.


Ready to start tagging like a pro?


We hope you've found this guide useful, now it's time to get started with tagging your photos! If you remember just one thing: be clear and accurate with your tags, don't confirm conflicting information, and don't SPAM!