The Importance of Tagging
Alright, so you've got a camera, you're taking nice pictures, and now you'd like to have the rest of the world have a look at your work. What now?
As of January 2011, the image sharing options are nearly endless. You've got: Flickr, Picasa, Photobucket, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, The Best Camera, SmugMug, Windows Live, Imgur, and MANY, MANY more. Just checkout Wikipedia's List of Photosharing Websites for more information and links.
Joining any number of these sites is a great first step, but it doesn't necessarily guarantee that folks are going to look at your images. Remember, there's millions of other people out there doing the exact same thing, trying to stick out.
How to Make Your Images Stick Out (in a search):
Create a unique image name - DSC_12345.jpg is NOT a unique title. If it's a picture of a couple who were just engaged, try something like "John and Mary Engagement". Pretty much anything but the default title gives a better search hit chance.
Add a comment - whenever given the opportunity to give more description to an image, take it! Don't just say what the photo is, give it a quick back story, and if applicable, give a little exposure data.
Most importantly, TAG! - Whether its keywording the images in Photoshop Lightroom or adding tags on Flickr, make sure your image has tags that describe its entirety.
And just so you're not left with a vague description on tagging, here's a little more info on tags:
Tags are simple - think of key words that when used separately can describe your image. A picture of a golden retriever puppy holding a bone could be tagged as simply as "dog" "bone".
Specific, but not too much - lets use the golden puppy as our example again. "golden retriever" and "puppy" could be used as additional tags, further describing your image. But "golden retriever holding bone" is too specific. People are more likely to search without the use of quotes, so separate words are searched as such.
It only takes a minute - honestly, tagging is as simple as typing a few quick sentences. If you can manage to squeeze an extra couple of hours of playing Farmville at work, I'm sure you can spend the necessary ten seconds to add image tags.
So now that you're all tagged, your images are instantly going to be a hit, right? Probably not, sorry. It takes a long time, and lot of social networking to get your images out there. Tagging is just another small part of the greater process of exposure. But if you're tagged, you're much better off being found in a search than just another image in a sea of Scan_01.tif and IMG_546.jpg.
Don't believe in the power of tagging? Try image searching "adorable corgi findlay" and see what comes up. ^__^