META Insights


In 2008, SAA launched a MetaSurvey to investigate current stock photography industry practices around the use and preservation of metadata.

MetaSurvey of Stock Distributors
The first phase centered on a comprehensive survey of metadata practices among major stock image distributors. The study looked at a representative group which included Getty Images, Corbis, Jupiterimages, Masterfile and Alamy.  SAA conducted extensive random sampling of digital image files available on their websites to document the presence of metadata in both "thumbnails" and larger "preview" images. The team then tracked sample images to see what happens to embedded metadata as files are forwarded on from distributors to multiple sub-distributors.

Preliminary findings confirmed what SAA has long suspected: Too many images in the licensing market lack key identifying and content information.

After presenting our preliminary findings at major industry conferences including the 2008 Microsoft Pro Photo Summit and 2008 International Photo Metadata Conference, and sharing them with stock distributors and fellow association leadership, the SAA Photo Metadata Project team gained a better understanding of the challenges that need to be met to implement best practices across the licensing industry.

A white paper report of MetaSurvey findings is currently in development.


MetaSurvey of Photographers
With the launch of the Project web site, the second phase of our MetaSurvey begins with an online questionnaire directed to pro photographers of all types. We hope to gain broad participation in the survey which will give us a better idea of the level of metadata use in the pro photo comunity, including types of metadata embedded, software tools used, and insights into digital imaging workflows.

Photographers, Take the MetaSurvey!

Later in 2009, a report of our findings will be posted to this site.