It’s not every day that Google serves up a win for photographers, but that’s exactly what just happened…
Many of the art buyers and photo editors I speak with use Google Images to find photographs that they can license for their projects and publications. Thanks to google that process just got easier.
As of a few days ago, Google has begun to display a “licensable” badge on images that have proper license related meta–data embedded in the image file or on the web page where the image resides.
Google uses this data to display a link to the license of the images as well as a link to where users can purchase a license! This one-click process greatly simplifies the process for an art buyer who, prior to this, had to hunt around the web to find out how and if they could obtain a license to use an image.
This is huge deal for photographers for a number of reasons.
First, the licensable badge is a nice visual indicator that can help your images stand out in the search results. Second, and most important, this turns Google images into a meta-search for a licensable images!
As photographers and stock agencies apply the proper license meta-data to their images, Google Images will most likely become the preferred starting point for art buyers and photo editors.
Now you can put a catalog of your licensable images online without having to upload them to one or more stock photo websites.
In order to tell Google that an image is licensable the photographer must embed specific licensing meta-data tags into the image file itself or on to the page where it appears.
If you are embedding license meta-data into the image file you must apply the IPTC Web Statement of Rights and the XMP Licensor URL tags. The only problem is that current versions of Digital Asset Managers such as Adobe Lightroom and Capture One do not support adding these tags… That means you’ll have to tag them using a program like Phil Harvey’s popular Exiftool (which you should probably be doing anyway). Even though it currently adds another step to your publishing workflow I highly recommend embedded licensing meta-data into the image file itself. File embedding ensures that the meta-data can not get separated from the image file over time due to a theme change or other website re-organizations.
UPDATE: the PhotoPress plugin will now automatically embed the required licensing tags into your images files during upload to WordPress. Just add your licensing meta-data via the plugin settings and they will be applied to every file you upload.
If you want to apply licensing meta-data to images that you’ve already uploaded to WordPress then you will want to embed it as structured data on the web page where the image resides. Google has good instructions for how to do this by hand, but the PhotoPress plugin will do this for you wherever you use a PhotoPress Gallery Block or a Core Image block.
It can take weeks/months for Google to re-crawl and re-index your images so be sure apply your license meta-data now. The work you do now to make your images licensable will literally pay off later.