Licensing your photos is a great way to monetize your work, your photos will be available through Getty Images and VCG (Visual China Group). Once they’re uploaded, they have the potential to reach more than a million customers around the world, all of whom are looking for images for their next project.
We usually associate the word “exposure” with followers, likes, and comments, but for Licensing Contributors, exposure comes down to hard dollars and cents. Companies can’t buy your photos if they can’t see them. That’s why we asked for advice to give us some tips on how to ensure that your content comes up during image searches.
His advice was surprisingly simple: tag your location.
Sure, your photos have to be excellent quality and appealing commercially—imagine them on a book cover or a billboard, in a magazine or brochure. But beyond that, how easy your images are to find can come down to whether or not you add your location.
“In many cases, it’s the difference between making a sale and not making a sale,” Paul says. “Given a buyer’s behavior and their search tendencies, if they can’t confirm location details quickly as part of their initial search, they’ll move on to images that do have location information.”
But location tags are more than just a matter of search convenience. “For some buyers, especially those purchasing for digital publications and newspapers, location is not only required, but when it is required, it must be 100% accurate,” Paul explains. “These usages are often descriptive and meant to illustrate a specific point or add context to a story—in which case, the accuracy of the location has to be spot-on.”
Even if you’re not taking photos of a breaking news event, adding location details can help influence how buyers use your photo. Recently, a stock photographer made headlines when he discovered that a picture he’d taken in Western Australia was actually being used to promote tours on an island in South Australia. He’d uploaded the image years before, and looking back realized he hadn’t tagged the location.
When we say to “tag” your location, we mean two things.
Second, if you’re a travel, landscape, or wildlife photographer, you’ll need to add location information to your keywords. Keywords are the Licensing Contributor’s secret weapon because they help your work surface during customer searches—choose the right ones, and you give your photos a significant boost.
Location keywords can be more thorough and specific than your main location tag, so put yourself in the buyer’s shoes and think about what they are likely to enter into that search bar. Try to start general and then zoom into the specifics.
We can use this stunning landscape by David Pruter (pictured above) as an example. First, he’s tagged the location (Torres de Paine, Chile), but then he’s also gone into his keywords and refined it. He started with general terms (South America, Patagonia), zoomed in a bit (Chile, Torres del Paine National Park), and then really focused on the specifics (Gray Glacier). As a result, this image can be discovered by all sorts of different buyers, whether they’re working on a travel guide to Chile or writing an article about climate change and glacial retreat.
One of the most common Licensing mistakes is to include just one or two keywords relating to location. “The majority of the issues we see are with Contributors not adding certain keywords relating to City, State/Province, and Country,” Paul says. Maybe they include one tag (e.g. Central Park), but they don’t cover all their bases (New York City, Manhattan, USA). All of these details are important if you’re a landscape or travel photographer.