Meta tags in photoshop

Jan 30, 2010
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Hey guys, I don't know if this is better suited for the HTML/scripting forum, but this technically falls under Photoshop.

Can someone explain the importance of meta data in pictures?? I always thought meta data and tags were for websites, and embedded in the source code. But my company has now dubbed me the graphic artist, and they want me to fix pictures in Photoshop, and make sure I tag them so they're easier found online (I think they've got Photoshop and HTML mixed up).

I know you change the meta data and tags using "File Info", or just in Bridge, but what are they really used for?? I tried testing some dummy settings, and then saving the picture and checking it's info, but none of my dummy tags appeared.

So then, what are they for?? Do they replace HTML meta data when put online? How does this work??


Oh, and I'm using CS4 with MacBook Pro


There's a lot more to say about this than I can adequately go over in a forum post, even a long one (like I tend to write).

I'll start here: yes, you're confused.

In a nutshell: photos taken with digital cameras have two types of "meta" information (the term "meta" refers to ANY sort of info found in ANY file type that is not obviously visible to the user looking at the content of the file). The two types are EXIF and IPTC. EXIF is much more commonly used, as is usually written by the camera itself. It contains info about the camera, date/time, specifics on the file and can also have "keywords" added to it.

IPTC info, on the other hand, is like a mini-database built into the picture. Users can add in all KINDS of additional info manually, very little is written by the camera itself.

Both are very handy ways to search for specific photos in a large database, however what I think your bosses are *actually* wanting you to do (in addition to the tagging) is to create a "watermark." A watermark is an invisible (or only barely visible) insignia embedded in the actual content of the photo as a method to prevent unauthorised use, or to catch people who are stealing your work and claiming it as their own. Most professional photographers watermark their photos that are available online for this purpose.

My suggestion to you would be the following:

a. Look up the terms "EXIF" and "IPTC" and "Watermark" in Wikipedia to learn more about them and how they are used.

b. Putting data in the "file info" comments section doesn't do any good except for the Finder (you can search for photos by Finder comments). I don't know enough about Bridge to say what it does and does not read from/allow editing on/write to the EXIF and/or IPTC databases, but when it comes to tagging photos, that's where you want to be writing information. I'm biased of course, but this is an area where ACDSee (now in beta for the Mac) has traditionally been very strong. I'm sure Lightroom, Aperture and other programs deal with this to some extent as well.

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