Why metadata is still important?
I am currently working on an assignment for a company building its media database. The preparation of the files before importing is the most prominent chunk of the work. Half of the pictures obtained in the past are being deleted because nobody knows who the photographer is or what rights do we have to use the files. With growing awareness of digital assets management and an increasing amount of content stored everywhere, this problem occurs more and more often.
“Any system is only as good as the metadata that it ingests.”
― Chris Bulock
When you, as a professional photographer, take photos on assignment, you must surely be aware that you are not the only one delivering images to any given company. Most companies nowadays store thousands of images, and unless they have an excellent digital asset workflow already in place (and believe me, most of them don't), in the end, the information you included in the e-mail is lost somewhere or removed accidentally. When your images end up on a company hard drive or server, among millions of other assets, the only way to retrieve them is with advanced search. Finding the right files are only made possible with taxonomy and metadata. I am well aware that almost 80% of metadata gets removed while photographs are published online, but if you don't use metadata, your photos may never get to the publishing part.
What I usually do first is to name all my files according to the following key:
Including date, name of the event documented and sequence number in the file titles helps to group the assets but is just a humble beginning to organizing your metadata. It is, however, essential to notice that more often than not, content management software is overwriting files with the same name. Make damn sure every photograph you deliver has a name unique and useful enough to survive in the system. Taking time to fill in all of the IPTC fields is the next thing you need to do. Most of the software like Capture One, Adobe Lightroom or Bridge lets you create presets to both rename the files and fill in all the metadata and spare you some time, so make sure you put it to good use. The bare minimum you need to ingest into the file is your name, what license you grant to whom and a description of the photographed event (location, who is in the photos, necessary hashtags, and so forth.)
To ensure your images are correctly administrated, you must include metadata into your work flow. Every digital asset manager will not only thank you for that, but will ensure your photos are published. Isn't that the point after all?