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Links & Resources Guide

This is the place to find everything published about metadata on the web.

We've arranged this reference library according to the following Index, leading with a short list
of "recommended reading." If you have other metadata-related resources to recommend, contact us
and we'd be glad to add them to this resource.


Recommended Reading
Introductory Basics
Metadata Viewing and Manipulation Utilities
Standards, Specifications and Schemas
Guidelines and Best Practices in Metadata Applications for Images and Image Collections
Image Metadata Discussion Forums
Metadata Conference Presentations & Reports
Periodical Articles
Reference and Lookup Tools
Additional Copyright Resources


Recommended Reading

Start with this selected group of articles that provide a good introduction, then dig deeper below for more insight.

User Guide to the IPTC Core
Descriptions of how to correctly put the current IPTC fields to use to embed metadata in digital files.

A Short History of the IPTC (International Press Telecommunication Council) Standards
by David Riecks
An excellent beginners' outline that also answers most frequently asked questions.

Basic Metadata: A Photographer's Best Friend
Ethan G. Salwen, ASMP Bulletin, Fall 2007

Basic Metadata: Don't Process Without It
Adding Contact and Copyright Metadata to Your RAW Processing Workflow
by Ethan G. Salwen, AfterCapture magazine, Oct/Nov 2007
Addressing practicing photographers, Salwen advocates adding metadata to RAW images as a first step in    processing, using templates for key metadata.

UPDIG: Universal Photographic Digital Imaging Guidelines, version 4.0
September 2008
The UPDIG guidelines aim to establish photographic standards and practices for photographers, designers, printers, and image distributors. They cover Digital Asset Management, Color Profiling, Metadata, and Photography Workflow.  Separate Guidelines for Photographers and Image Receivers are available on this site.


Introductory Basics

These sources provide an introduction to the problem of image data and metadata interchange, and early steps toward the solution.

A Short History of the IPTC (International Press Telecommunication Council) Standards
David Riecks, [n.d.]
An excellent beginners' outline that also answers most frequently asked questions.

SAA's Metadata Manifesto, issued July 2006
This site provides both a web version and a downloadable PDF outlining a proposal from the Stock Artists Alliance for the adoption of guiding principles, standards and technology to promote image metadata use among image-using industries around the world.

IPTC Photo Metadata White Paper 2007, Document Revision 11
Outlines metadata properties vital to image interchange, and workflows in current use by various types of image creators and users.

Basic Metadata: A Photographer's Best Friend
by Ethan G. Salwen
ASMP Bulletin, fall 2007

Software supporting IPTC photo metadata standards IIM and "IPTC Core"
A vendor submitted list maintained by the International Press Telecommunication Council (IPTC) of various software applications with information on which of the IPTC metadata standards are supported.

IPTC Tests Software Tools to Embed and Read Rights Data
Free and Inexpensive Software tested by the IPTC Photo Metadata Working Group for the ability to write specific embedded photo metadata.

How to Extract Image Metadata Using Python
A tutorial on how to extract various forms of metadata embedded in a PNG file using the programming language, Python. 


Metadata Viewing and Manipulation Utilities

Utilities for Viewing

Jeffrey Friedl's Online Metadata Viewer
A web based utility for reading Exif, XMP, IPTC, ICC, etc., data in most file types (including JPEG, TIFF, PSD, RAW, NEF, CR2, MP3, WMV, etc.) whether remote or local.  Includes a button that can be dragged and dropped into one's local browser button bar (Compatible with recent versions of the Firefox and Safari browsers).  The most flexible image metadata web-based viewer now available.

FxIF (Firefox exIF) is a browser Add-on for Firefox which allows you to read Exif, IPTC-IIM (the older IPTC binary format), and XMP metadata. After installing, you simply right click on an image and choose this option, and the metadata will be shown in a separate window.

Metapicz is an online metadata and exif viewer for digital photos. You can drag and drop an image that is on a desktop computer, or point to an image on the web by URL to see the embedded XMP and Exif metadata. It does not seem to properly recognize any field containing an array (of which the IPTC Core and IPTC Extension contain a few). It also does not seem to recognize the older IPTC-IIM form of photo metadata.

ExifTool GUI for Windows v4
[released April 4, 2010]
View Exif, IPTC, XMP, Maker Notes and more. This utility takes Phil Harvey's command line ExifTool utility and gives it a Graphical User Interface. Instructions for use can be downloaded as a ZIP file at

Exif Viewer 1.45
A Firefox addon, by Alan Raskin.  Displays the Exif and IPTC data in local and remote JPEG (only) images.

XMP metadata extractor (Jpeg only)

A web based utility for extracting the XMP from a JPEG file whether remote or local.

The FotoForensics site has tutorials and links to software and other resources, explaining how to find and extract metadata in photos.

Utilities for Manipulating Metadata

ExifTool is a platform-independent Perl library plus a command-line application for reading, writing and editing meta information in image, audio and video files. ExifTool supports many different types of metadata including EXIF, IPTC, XMP, and many others. ExifTool is also available as a stand-alone Windows executable and a Macintosh OS X package.

The IPTC Cultural Heritage Panel for Adobe Bridge
This link to a ZIP file includes two plugin panels for Adobe Bridge CC (up to 2016 versions) and CS5/CS6 with a focus on fields in the IPTC Photo Metadata Standard 2016 relevant for images of artwork and other cultural heritage objects like buildings. These panels support:

  • Reading and writing the complete set of Artwork or Object fields of the IPTC standard
  • Key image administration fields
  • Automatically generating image caption and keywords from existing Artwork or Object data
  • The second panel allows for import and export of data into IPTC fields embedded into an image

Meta Shot Put
Meta Shot Put is a free image importer app for powerpoint that automates the placing of a batch of images (versions for Mac and Windows exist). If you have more than about 5 or 10 images it will save you a lot of time and hassle.


Standards, Specifications and Schemas

Photo Image File Format Specifications

JPEG File Interchange Format, version 1.02
Issued September 1, 1992

TIFF Revision 6.0
Final, June 1992
Adobe developers' file standards for TIFF file type.

File Standards for Photoshop PSD file type.
Updated May 2008
Parts copyrighted by Thomas Knoll

Photo Metadata Standards & Specification Schemas

Dublin Core
Dublin Core Metadata Element Set, Version 1.1
A ready reference to all Dublin Core elements;  includes references to controlled vocabularies available for individual elements.

DCMI Metadata Terms
Dublin Core Metadata Initiative
Recommendation of the DCMI Usage Board, issued January 2008.

"IPTC Core" Schema for XMP, version 1.0
Specification Document, revision 8
IPTC 2005.
XMP value types and schema properties are given here, as well as a list of deprecated legacy IIM metadata elements mapped to current XMP values.

XMP (Extensible Metadata Platform)

XMP: Adding Intelligence to Media
XMP Specification
Adobe, 2005
Data and storage models, schemas, and embedding in image files.

IPTC Photo Metadata Standards
General Overview
IPTC Photo Metadata Standard 2016 (PDF)
IPTC Photo Metadata Standard 2014 (PDF)
IPTC Photo Metadata Standard 2010 (PDF)
IPTC Photo Metadata Standard 2008 (PDF)
IPTC Core, Specification Version 1.1
IPTC Extension, Specification 1.0
IPTC-NAA Information Interchange Model (IIM), version 4, Rev 1, July 1999
Standard for representing and exchanging news information (both text and image).

JEITA  Exchangeable image file format for digital still cameras: Exif Version 2.2
JEITA CP-3451, established April 2002.
Published by Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association (JEITA)
English translation of the standard, though the Japanese original is authoritative.

JEITA 49-1998
JEITA 49-1998 is the earlier version of the Exif standard.

PLUS Coalition License Data
PLUS (Picture Licensing Universal System)
Free registration required to access the standards information, which includes:

BETA version of the PLUS License Generator, a web based tool that generates a PLUS Universal License Summary file in XMP, suitable for embedding in digital image files. The License Generator is available in the "UsePLUS" menu of the PLUS website for free.

BETA version of a License Embedder and Reader (different versions for Mac and PC), that allows users to embed or read a Universal License Statement one file at a time. Future versions will support batch processing, saved license templates, saved user contact info.

For Digital Image Collections

NISO Metadata for Images in XML Schema
Technical metadata for digital still images standard
The Library of Congress' Network Development and MARC Standards Office, in partnership with the NISO Technical Metadata for Digital Still Images Standards Committee and other interested experts, is developing an XML schema for a set of technical data elements required to manage digital image collections.

ANSI/NISO Z39.87 - Data Dictionary - Technical Metadata for Digital Still Images
Defines a set of metadata elements for raster digital images to enable users to develop, exchange, and interpret digital image files. The dictionary has been designed to facilitate interoperability between systems, services, and software as well as to support the long-term management of and continuing access to digital image collections.

VRA Core 4.0
Visual Resource Association, Data Standards Committee, March 2007.
This is a data standard for the cultural heritage community, providing a categorical organization for the description of works of visual culture as well as the images that document them. It consists of a metadata element set as well as an initial blueprint for how those elements can be hierarchically structured.

World Wide Web Standards and Specifications

W3C Resource Description Framework (RDF)
RDF Vocabulary Description Language 1.0: RDF Schema
W3C Recommendation 10 February 2004
The Resource Description Framework (RDF) is a general-purpose language for representing information in the Web. This specification describes how to use RDF to describe RDF vocabularies. This specification defines a vocabulary for this purpose and defines other built-in RDF vocabulary initially specified in the RDF Model and Syntax Specification.

Encoding Dublin Core metadata in HTML
Informational Memorandum, not a standard.  Offers several examples of encoding.
IETF, December 1999.  © The Internet Society.

Image Annotation on the Semantic Web
W3C Incubator Group Report 14 August 2007
Offers use cases and solutions that illustrate vocabularies used in Dublin Core and VRA Core data elements.

Date and Time (W3C)
This document defines a profile of ISO 8601, the International Standard for the representation of dates and times. ISO 8601 describes a large number of date/time formats. To reduce the scope for error and the complexity of software, it is useful to restrict the supported formats to a small number. This profile defines a few date/time formats, likely to satisfy most requirements.


Guidelines and Best Practices in Metadata Applications
for Images and Image Collections

User's Guide to the IPTC Core and IPTC Extension (for Photoshop CS5)
(descriptions of how to correctly put the current IPTC Core and IPTC Extension fields to use in Photoshop CS5)

User's Guide to the IPTC-PLUS Toolkit
(descriptions of how to correctly put the current IPTC Core, IPTC Extension & PLUS fields to use in the Javascript plug-in for Adobe Bridge for CS3 or later. Guide is included in full download)

User's Guide to the IPTC Core
(descriptions of how to correctly put the current IPTC Core fields to use in Photoshop CS3/CS4))

Caption and Keywording Guidelines
(Guidelines on how to write captions and keywords that will help you and others find your images)

Preserving Technical Photo Metadata
(a 10 page PDF written by INFRA staff on behalf of the IPTC Photo Metadata Working Group which
details digital photography workflows and pain points on where metadata may be inadvertently lost)

Guidelines for Handling Image Metadata, version 1.0.1
February 2009
Metadata Working Group (site offline after September 2018 - view MWG cache on Internet Archive)
The Metadata Working Group (MWG) — a consortium of Adobe, Apple, Canon, Microsoft, Sony, and Nokia — was formed in 2006 to publish technical specifications focused on the preservation and seamless interoperability of digital image metadata. Version 1.01 (issued February 2009) is available as a downloadable pdf at this site which establishes guidelines for handling metadata in images for all branches of the image-making and image-using industries.  A set of tools and test files are also available which can be used by developers who provide applications or services which handle photo metadata.

UPDIG: Universal Photographic Digital Imaging Guidelines, version 4.0
September 2008
The UPDIG guidelines aim to establish photographic standards and practices for photographers, designers, printers, and image distributors. They cover Digital Asset Management, Color Profiling, Metadata, and Photography Workflow.  Separate Guidelines for Photographers and Image Receivers are also available on this site.
November 2009
dpBestflow is an initiative developed by The American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) funded by the Library of Congress through its National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP). The goal is to make best practices in digital photography readily accessible to all professional photographers, no matter what their level or working style.
Best Practices for Shareable Metadata
Digital Library Federation, 2005.
As part of its Online Archive Initiative, the Digital Library Federation offers guidelines for expanding the simple (or unqualified) Dublin Core elements to provide richer descriptive elements about an archive collection.  It makes available an XML schema and has reserved the metadata prefix oai_dc for this schema.
Summary of OAI Metadata Best Practices
Digital Library Federation (DLF), Institute of Museum & Library Services, Online Archive Initiative (OAI), November, 2005.
Guidelines, especially for archivists, in creating shareable metadata about their holdings.
IMS AccessForAll Meta-data Best Practice and Implementation Guide
Version 1.0 Final Specification
IMS Global Learning Consortium, 2004.
This document provides best practices and answers implementation concerns regarding the AccessForAll Meta-data specifications for text, image, and multimedia. It references the technical documents.
Image Metadata Discussion Forums
The Controlled Vocabulary Forum
This monitored, moderated public discussion group, with over 1200 active members, focuses on discussion of Controlled Vocabularies, Hierarchies, Thesauri, and Classification schemes used in databases, with a specific interest in image files and databases. Related topics include the use of IPTC metadata, Dublin Core, XML, and Adobe Photoshop's XMP data format.
The DAM forum
An active, well organized, monitored and moderated public forum, with over 2,000 members, explores Digital Asset Management for Photographers, an outgrowth of Peter Krogh's book of the same name. Wide-ranging topics include software, workflow, utilities, and practical applications rather than theory.
IPTC4XMP  "IPTC Core" Schema for XMP Tech Support
Public moderated discussion group supporting the adoption and use of the IPTC Core metadata standard. This forum, launched February 2005 has well over 100 members and is moderately active.
IPTC Photo Metadata
Public moderated discussion group regarding additions to the IPTC for Stock and Cultural Heritage uses, launched July 2006, over 100 members, intermittently active.
Metadata Conference Presentations & Reports
First International Photo Metadata Conference: Working Toward a Seamless Photo Workflow
Florence, Italy, June 2007
Includes links to reports and white papers from this conference.
Second International Photo Metadata Conference: Metadata for Better Business
Malta, June 2008
Links to downloadable program presentations in zip files
Dresden, Germany, June 2009
Held in conjunction with the CEPIC Conference, and cosponsored by IPTC and IFRA, the conference focused on the exchange of video, graphics, and photographs. Includes links to downloadable program presentations from this conference.
International Photo Metadata Conference: Working together cooperatively
by Ulrik Södergren, with assistance from David Riecks
ASPP Picture Professional, issue 3.2008
Periodical Articles
The Big, Scary Metadata Crisis (And How To Address It)
by Ethan G. Salwen
For photographers just beginning to learn about metadata, Salwen stresses the vital importance of adding key metadata to one's images right away:  photographer's name, contact information, and copyright status.
Basic Metadata: Don't Process Without It
Adding Contact and Copyright Metadata to Your RAW Processing Workflow
by Ethan G. Salwen
AfterCapture magazine, Oct/Nov 2007
Addressing practicing photographers, Salwen advocates adding metadata to RAW images as a first step in processing, using templates for key metadata.
Future Directions in Metadata Remediation for Metadata Aggregators
by Greta de Groat
Digital Library Federation, February 2009
Blogs and Podcasts
SAA’s Metadata Manifesto Blog
Updates and notices about best practices in the use of image metadata.
Photo Metadata Blog
Intermittently updated with news items referring to metadata issues.
The Online Photographer (TOP2.0)
A meandering miscellany of off-the-cuff information, archived monthly since June 2007.  Some recollections of how photographers described their images before metadata became a buzzword.
Another DAM Blog
Henrik de Gyor is a Digital Asset Manager for an educational organization, and shares what he has learned with anyone interested in what is involved with a DAM system via this blog. Learn about dealing with collections, metadata management, permissions as well as training for all users throughout an enterprise.
DAM ideas
Philip Spiegel covers topics regarding Digital Asset Management, Media Asset Management, Metadata, and Archive Operations in this blog.
Cataloging Futures: A "Work" in Progress
The focus of this blog is the future of cataloging and metadata in libraries.
That DAM show
This weekly podcast covers content and digital media management for the Internet, publishing, broadcast, and other industries where media is preserved, monetized, archived or managed.
The focus of this site is on the preservation of both physical and digital materials within the music community. Be sure to check out the posts under the Embedded Boogaloo label which look at the different kinds of embedded metadata formats for the digital file formats most likely to be used by music labels.
Reference and Lookup Tools
Table comparing metadata field names used in the IPTC core fields with those used in different image cataloging applications and various versions of Photoshop.  Use this to check how the field names in your applications map to the IPTC core fields.
Table listing EXIF elements as produced by selected digital camera models made by the major digital camera manufacturers.
PhotoShelter's Search Engine Optimization -- SEO Cookbook is a great resource for those that want to make the most of their websites.
Additional Copyright Resources
The U.S Copyright Office is obviously the best source of nuts-and-bolt information about U.S. Copyright Law. On this website, one can download forms, filing information, historical documents and the copyright  law itself.   Also on the home page is a link to the Electronic Copyright Office, where photos and other works can be registered online.

The American Society of Media Photographers has published an extensive online resource concerning copyrights.  ASMP's "Copyright Tutorial" includes a history of copyrights and much information about copyrighting photographs.  This very thorough tutorial is publicly available.

The Copyright Alliance offers another valuable internet resource. The website of this non-profit educational organization is a good source of up-to-date copyright information.  It also provides research and educational materials.

The Picture Archive Council of America has created extensive online training materials at "The Jane Kinne Copyright Education Program." The Kinne collection includes a "Copyright Education PowerPoint," an education presentation by attorney Nancy Wolff and PACA's "Copyright Commandments."

Professional Photographers of America offers an in-depth web section about copyrights.  This section includes recent news about copyrights and information about PPA's copyright advocacy efforts.

Stock Artists Alliance
has uploaded extensive information about the Orphan Works issue.  Though the U.S. Congress has yet to pass legislation that would make it easier to use photos and other copyrighted materials when the author is unknown or cannot be found, many observers believe some form of Orphan Works bill will eventually become law.