how to use metadata for press photos correctly
Was that cousin Klaus or cousin Werner? Do you have time for guesswork? Photo: Roman Kraft

How to use metadata for press and PR photos correctly – and avoid trouble with media and photographers

Why every image needs a text – Correct captioning helps with usage

No image leaves the computer unlabeled. Whether I am booked as a press photographer, as a photographer for events and events or for business photography. Because only in this way it makes sense. It’s the only way I can find photos again, the only way I can ensure that the context of the images is understood, and the only way I can ensure as a photographer that my work is only used for the purpose for which it was made.

Thanks to IPTC labeling the text stays with the image

What many people don’t know is that you can save the image texts directly in the image. This is done in the so-called metadata, a special area of the file. The standard was invented by the International Press Telecommunications Council and is also called IPTC for short according to the abbreviation.

Photojournalists around the world label their photos this way

Especially when photos are distributed to third parties, this is very important, because only in this way can misunderstandings or legal consequences be averted.

For example, press photos are often distributed with the press release via email. The image caption is then written directly into the email. So far so good, but this text often gets lost on the way to the photo editor. Important information about the event, the people pictured, but also restrictions and copyright information are lost.

Photo editors and archives work with IPTC data

But how does the text get into the picture? There are a number of programs that can be used to write and read IPTC image texts. The best known representative is certainly Adobe Photoshop, where you have access to the data fields with the function “File functions”. Irfanview belongs to the free representatives (only for non-commercial purposes), I personally use Photomechanic, with which you can also send pictures, reduce them and do a few things more. With the program you can edit and deliver large amounts of photos in no time.

screenshot eventphotographer patrick lux photomechanic
Photomechanic – photos can be easily labeled with it

There are many fields in the IPTC, the most important is certainly the description (Photoshop) or caption (Photomechanic). This is where the image description belongs, i.e. who, what, where and when. I also write my copyright and additional information in case only this field is read. Please do not copy complete press releases!

This is how press photographers and agencies label their images, which are then sent out into the world. Photo editors use their systems to read these texts and add additional information to the photos, such as keywording and special notes.

Proper labeling increases chances of publication

If you deliver your press photos to the media correctly labeled in this way, you increase the chance that they will find their way into the media in the desired manner. You can also add that the photos may only be used in a certain country (spatially) or for a limited time. And captioning has other advantages as well. The Spotlight search on Mac systems reads the IPTC data and so you can search specifically for photos on your hard drive. Especially for smaller projects this is very handy if you don’t use a photo archive system, for larger ones IPTC is essential anyway, because otherwise the archive doesn’t know what kind of photos it is.

Patrick Lux

Patrick Lux

Moin, ich bin Patrick Lux, Fotograf aus Hamburg. Warum ich gerne Events fotografiere? Weil die Begegnung zwischen Menschen immer wieder spannend erlebe. Der Moment ist oft viel zu kurz ist, um die Bedeutung zu verstehen. Eventfotos sorgen dafür, dass Ihre Veranstaltung in den Köpfen bleibt.