Photography: It's All in a Name

July 30, 2012  •  1 Comment

     The photograph below is of a Sierra mountain wildflower commonly known as scarlet gilia, and whose Latin name is ipomopsis aggregata.  I know that, not because I am a wildflower expert, but because I spent an hour or so scouring the web for information after taking the picture. In other words, it took me a lot longer to get the information about the flower than it did to create the image.

     And yet, that research must be done. No matter how pretty the picture, it isn't of much use without the details. 

     There are three powerful reasons for this.

     First is that there is little point in having a fabulous image if no one can find it.  Every photograph in your collection should be fully keyworded. The accurate common and Latin names of flowers, birds, bugs, plants, animals and anything else that is identifiable by species, genre or style, simply must be included. Prospective buyers of photographs often have highly specific needs. If your photograph isn't fully labelled, it will never surface in their search.

     The second critical factor is that many stock agencies, publications and other photography clients require extensive keywording, including identification data. Some specify a number of keywords, ranging from ten to twenty. All expect accurate identification details to be included in that. Unless your photos are intended solely for your own viewing pleasure, the keywording process is an essential element of your workflow.

     And finally, the third factor is that you must be able to find these images within your own collection. It could be that at the moment you have only a dozen or so photographs of "yellow mountain flowers". But believe me, that number is going to grow. At some point you are going to want to put your hands on the picture of Ranunculus eschscholzia (Alpine Buttercup) that you just know is in there somewhere amongst the daisies.

     All that said, just how do you accomplish identification? With experience and knowledge, it becomes easier. But if you are just starting, you will have to count on doing a little web-trolling. There are wonderful sites for wildflowers, like sierrawildflowers.org; sites for insects, like bugs.net, and a host of butterfly identification sites, including Western California Butterfly Garden.

     Alas, none of these research sites, no matter how wonderful, will do the work for you. If photographing bugs is what you're all about, your expertise will grow. But in the meantime, plan on spending some time gathering the correct details. This is an investment that will absolutely pay off.

     Create your own resource list as you go along - it will become one of the most important tools of the trade. Get into the habit of identifying and labelling your successful images soon after you take them. As time goes on, you'll realize that this information is as critical to your image as the elements that make it technically successful.

Scarlet Gilia


Comments

Lynn(non-registered)
Very pretty. In fact, very very pretty.
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