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Lúí Smyth, Shutterstock at IPTC Photo Metadata Conference 2019

Last week’s 2019 IPTC Photo Metadata Conference was again hosted in association with the CEPIC Congress. This year’s conference was held in a slightly rainy Paris but at least that meant that we didn’t mind staying indoors in late May.

The event kicked off with an introduction from event chair Stéphane Guérillot from AFP, who is also on the Board of IPTC and Chair of the IPTC Standards Committee. The theme of the afternoon was “putting IPTC metadata to work for your image collections” and the emphasis on practical outcomes was a constant refrain.

Isabelle Wirth, AFP at IPTC Photo Metadata Conference 2019

The first panel was around the question of “do we still need IPTC Photo Metadata?” Michael Steidl, lead of the IPTC Photo Metadata Working Group started off by presenting results from the IPTC Photo Metadata surveys that the Working Group has undertaken earlier this year. Lúí Smyth from Shutterstock  showed how metadata has helped them to organise millions of photos from thousands of sources. Isabelle Wirth, photo editor at AFP discussed how the agency uses IPTC Photo Metadata along with other IPTC standards such as News Codes and NewsML-G2 to make content searchable and shareable for their clients. And independent photographer and 3D photogrammetry expert with Deep3D, Simon Brown, explained how metadata was crucial for creating 3D views of sunken shipwrecks via tens of thousands of still photographs and some innovative software. In Simon’s words: “For more than one 3D project, projects with multiple contributors, or projects conducted over a longer period of time, IPTC entry becomes mandatory.”

Andrew Wiard, IPTC Photo Metadata Conference 2019

The next session examined how creating and editing IPTC Photo Metadata could be improved. Sarah Saunders representing CEPIC presented results from the IPTC Photo Metadata surveys of both image suppliers and software makers showing that metadata usage has grown in sophistication but still varies greatly between independent photographers and large companies.  Andrew Wiard, photographer and member of the British Press Photographers’ Association, spoke with passion about how we could improve the handling of photo metadata once it leaves the photographer’s desk, a constant goal of the Photo Metadata Working Group and which will form part of our work plan for the rest of 2019. Mayank Sagar from Image Data Systems showed some exciting tools with videos showing how their AI algorithms can detect objects from luggage and handbags for commuters to brands and logos on advertisements in sports footage, and talked about the current limits of AI classification and future issues such as how to handle artificially synthesised images. Andreas Gnutzmann of popular photo management software Fotoware showed how their system is moving to the cloud, putting metadata at its core even more than previously.

Anna Dickson, Google at IPTC Photo Metadata Conference 2019

The third session looked at the end-user side and how the industry can benefit from photo metadata. Brendan Quinn of IPTC presented the Photo Metadata Crawler project, examining how news publishers around the world are embedding photo metadata in the images used on their sites. Michael Steidl showed results of the Photo Metadata Working Group’s updated analysis of social media systems and sharing platforms, which will be shared through an IPTC news article in the coming months. And Anna Dickson of Google gave us an update on her history working with images as photo editor at Huffington Post and Dow Jones among others, and discussing how Google are working with metadata and the IPTC, including our shared challenges of encouraging more site owners to publish embedded metadata so that it can be picked up by Google Search and other services. At the event, Google also announced some very interesting features that are currently in the pipeline.

Michael Steidl and Stéphane Guérillot closed out the event talking about the work the the IPTC Photo Metadata Working Group would be undertaking this year as a result of the discussions and of the survey results.

All slides from the day are available in PDF format from the event page, both to IPTC members and non-members. 

Key findings from the Photo Metadata surveys will be shared in future news posts, so please watch this space for updates.

More information about the Google presentation and their proposed new features around image metadata is available to all IPTC members who have joined the Photo Metadata Working Group.

Thanks to all the speakers, to CEPIC for their assistance in hosting the conference, and to everyone who attended for making the event such a success!