Embedded metadata

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to attach metadata (the information you want to use to describe your image) directly to the image file? So that you could search and see it in any platform? And that you could apply that metadata to whole batches of images? There is: it’s called embedded metadata. But it’s tricky.

Every digital image has embedded text fields built into the file (some that you can edit) which contain information about the file. Digital cameras produce files in something called EXIF (EXchangeable Image Format) which means they hold textual information about the photographer’s settings. Image files also have the International Press Telecommunications Council metadata fields (called the IPTC header), a standard for image information which was established by global news organizations. This has by and large been replaced with the XMP (Extensible Metadata Platform).

You can see these fields by:

On a PC right-clicking and selecting ‘Properties’ and then ‘Details.’

On a Mac select ‘Get Info’ or ‘Inspector’ in Preview. This allows you to add text to this single image, but batch editing many at once is far more efficient.

If you are using a smartphone there are various apps which allow you to strip the EXIF information and sometimes add information to the image as you capture them such as Metapho or Photo Editor. EXIF information stripping is usually done to secure privacy when using the image in social media.  Search ‘Edit IPTC’ to find one you like.

We here at Visual Resources have experimented with a few strategies for batch embedding metadata into image files and would be happy to discuss if it is a method that might work for you.