It is Not Required, but Your Description May be Priceless!

One of our dedicated members Dennis Thomsen brought up the issue of describing our images in the Cutcaster marketplace to us and we felt that Dennis, as a former photo journalist and newspaper editor, would be an ideal person to share his experience as to why describing your images is so important for image buyers and those that want to sell their images.

Below is a little post he wrote about the best way to describe your content and why it is so important. Enjoy and please add any comments at the end. Thank you so much Dennis for passing on some education to all of us.

Like many of our members, I like to check out the Cutcaster collection to see what is being submitted, and to look for holes in the collection. I’ve also been checking out the new and improved search engine (more changes coming according to John). My examination of the collection led to this guest blog. The goal is to share with the Cutcaster community what this former photo-journalist and newspaper editor views as a big concern if our images (and Cutcaster) are going to get serious consideration from buyers.

Is a picture always worth a thousand words? Photographers and artists would like to think this is the case, but it is not always true. We are in the business of marketing our images, and buyers are looking for images which fit their needs. Do they care about descriptions (captions)? The answer from most buyers is YES! Descriptive captions are part of the marketing information buyers use in the decision making process.

When we go through the Cutcaster image submission process we are required to title, keyword and price our images. It is optional whether we describe (caption) images. In fact, we can leave this field blank if we so choose. What I’ve observed is many image descriptions are too short, lacking detail, or completely missing. If our goal is to sell our images or increase our sales, this may be a big mistake.

Many high end buyers we hope Cutcaster will attract in the upcoming marketing and advertising campaign need what is referred to as the “five W’s and H” in the descriptions. This information, the who, what, when, where, why, and how, of an image should not be ignored when you go through the upload process. Few images can stand alone. Those descriptions (captions) provide details buyers need in the decision process. It may help your sales figures if you review your photo descriptions with an eye toward checking and editing for present tense, active verbs, and the five Ws. Captioning is not always easy and it can be time consuming. It is a skill that develops with practice, just like keywording!

If you want to learn more about this photo caption (description) process, there is plenty of help available on the internet. You might want to check out some of these sites for caption writing basics:

“What Makes a Good Caption?” which is a good starting primer -

Photo Caption Checklist site which provides more captioning thoughts

and the following site is also worth visiting – Writing Photo Captions which summarizes the AP stylebook guidelines:

The above are a great starting point if you are new to captioning or want to work on improving your image descriptions. Books have been written on this subject. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Hope you find something useful here and your comments are welcome.

Check out images belonging to Dennis here:

3 thoughts on “It is Not Required, but Your Description May be Priceless!

  1. p2pix

    Great subject Dennis and thanks for giving us more insight.

    I feel that submitting to several sites makes us work a bit harder once learning what goes and what doesn’t.
    I’ve learned on some sites (via rejections for too long a description) want us to keep it short.

    On another site, I sold an image because additional words in my description that wouldn’t have been proper in my keywords drew a download from a buyer.

    And one site, unfortunately gone now, recommended we add something in that description that the buyer might want to know.

    So even though it takes a bit more time, I prefer to put additional information into the description when completing the IPTC that is easy to take out for the sites that don’t want the extra.

  2. John Griffin

    i think that is really smart patricia. we allow people to search for words that are included in the description so it is good to have a good, concise description.

  3. Pingback: Top ten things you can do to promote your stock photography and vector portfolio and get more sales | Cutcaster's Blog

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