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How to get grips on visual content

The explicit goal for IPTC Photo Metadata is to make visual content better accessible by computer based search systems. To achieve this the IPTC has committed itself to a "Photo Metadata Roadmap" - see below.

What is Photo Metadata?

  • Metadata is "data about data" - in the scope of photographs that is data about the digital image.
  • Data about digital images ...
    ... describe what you can see on the photo, either using free text or codes from a controlled vocabulary
    ... provide administrative information about the photo like who has taken it, when and where it was taken, etc.
    ... provide rights related information (copyright, usage rights)
    ... provide workflow related information like an identifier and title for the photo or a job identifier.
  • These data may be stored with the digital image data in an image file. Well known formats are JPEG or TIFF files.
  • These data may be stored outside a photo file in a digital asset management system or by a external file, e.g. the XMP sidecar file or XML based news exchange format files as specified by the IPTC.

Photo Metadata Roadmap 2007

This roadmap outlines planned photo metadata activities of the IPTC and in particular of its Photo Metadata Working Group starting in summer 2007, it was endorsed by the IPTC directors.
Much of the planned activities were triggered by and relate to the publicly available "Photo Metadata White Paper".

Roadmap items:

1 Metadata specifications
The IPTC will start working on the specification of the metadata properties as outlined in the White Paper - this means extending the current schema by the most urgent requirements from the news and stock photo business.

2 Resolving the “Open Issues” from the White Paper
The IPTC will start to work on the "Open Issues" (chapter 6) from the White Paper immediately as the IPTC received affirmative response to this list at and after the Photo Metadata Conference in June 2007.
That are the headlines of this Open Issues list:
• Well defined mapping between metadata properties of different schemas
• Write-Once metadata values
• Versioning of metadata values
• Cameras should allow easy-to-preset metadata values
• Cameras should deliver more than Exif metadata (this point is related to the one above)
• Improved support for controlled vocabularies (CV) as the source of metadata values on the user interface level
• Consistent implementation and use of photo metadata standards must be improved
• Imaging devices are not restricted to cameras anymore
• A key feature of metadata for digital assets – photographs included – are globally unique identifiers

3 Talking to camera makers and CIPA
The IPTC will start talking to camera makers and CIPA regarding the open issues described in 2.

4 Photo workflow standards
The IPTC will consider the request for photo workflow standards/guidelines to tame the threat of deleting metadata at some intermediate stage of the workflow.

5 Collaboration with other parties
The IPTC will invite standardisation bodies and other companies and parties to collaborate on the efforts outlined in this Roadmap.



Embedded Metadata Manifesto

Read it - support it - spread the word about it.

Image Metadata Handbook

The CEPIC/IPTC Image Metadata Handbook with comprehensive guidelines for metadata management by professionals. Download it for free.

Support and discussion

The IPTC moderates two discussion forums on photo metadata:
* Generic issues
* XMP specific technical issues


The latest Photo Metadata Standards document covering IPTC Core and IPTC Extension (July 2014)

Toolkit for Adobe CS

The IPTC-PLUS Photo Metadata Toolkit for Adobe CS products for free!

Download the latest version of the IPTC-PLUS Metadata panel only.