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JD Grimes

3 Years Ago

Image Description Tutorial

Hi, all! Here are some thoughts and suggestions on writing better image descriptions. I hope it helps some people. Please offer your own suggestions below! Thanks!

Descriptions serve two purposes: First, they tell anyone who is interested in your work more about it, and second, they are scanned by search engines (not the internal search on FAA, but external engines like google).

A good description should cater to both interested people and search engines. So a good description should:

1. Tell the reader a little bit about the subject (trivia is always good)
2. Tell the reader where the photo was taken (for photographs)
3. Tell the reader something about the technique used (where applicable)
4. Answer any other questions that people are likely to ask about the work
5. Note a few of the attractive properties that you enjoy in the work

In addition, you should try to remember to incorporate keywords into this, for the search engines to find.

Descriptions should be not too long, and not too short. If they are too long, people likely will not take the time to read them. Remember that because of the format of the description area on the image page, descriptions look longer then they really are. However, your description needs to be long enough to actually say something worth saying.

Let me make sure that you know right up front that the general consensus is that few people actually read the descriptions. This is partly due to their placement (it has been suggested many times that the descriptions be moved to underneath the image, instead of their current position on the side). But we are not concerned about the majority of people who may not read your descriptions. We are concerned only about the minority of people who are genuinely interested in your image. That, I think, should take in most of the potential buyers. And these are the people who will look for the description box, and do not want to see only "none" written there. Many times I find an interesting image and would like to know something more about it, but there is no description (or what little description there is is negligible). That can really squelch ones enthusiasm.

Now lets take a moment to go over the list of things that a good description should do:

1. Tell the reader a little bit about the subject

For some scenics, the focus may be more on where the image was taken (see below), but a little bit about the scene (which in that case would comprise the subject) is a good idea. For nature close-ups it is good to tell what the subject is. If you can, give the common and Latin names of a species, and if you know an interesting piece of trivia about it, include that too.

For stuff other than nature photography (which is what I do and that is why I go over it in a little more detail because that is what I know), the same principals apply. Explain what the subject is, etc.

2. Tell the reader where the photo was taken (for photographs)

This is always a good idea, since people may be more likely to buy an image taken in their home state, etc. It is especially important if the image is recognizable as from a specific place.

3. Tell the reader something about the technique used (where applicable)

Sometimes I see an image and wonder what technique was used to create a certain effect. Or sometimes the colors in an image seem unreal, and I wonder whether they were manipulated. You don't have to mention minor corrections or anything, especially when they are not noticeable. But that real looking greenish/aquamarine sunrise photo might get some questions. If people ask you about what technique was used, then you should have included it in the description.

4. Answer any other questions that people are likely to ask about the work

Many times I have questions about a work. Most of them would have been answered if the person had just included a little about the subject or technique. It is just good to remember to answer any questions people might have about the work in the description.

5. Note a few of the attractive properties that you enjoy in the work

This is good to do especially when you end up with a description that just seems too short. Say something like, "The lighting really caught my eye", or "I really like the way the colors contrast one another." Adding something like this can be good especially when it encourages the reader to stop a moment and take note of a certain aspect of the work.

And again, remember to sprinkle those keywords in there. They will appear there naturally, but if you don't know what to write, start thinking of a few keywords that you could mention, and then start building around them.

You may want to consider including a copyright notice in your descriptions. (You should all include a clear copyright notice somewhere in your biography as well. See HERE for some notices you can just copy and paste. You can type a symbol in several different ways, but I find that I can do it most easily by holding down the option button and then typing the letter g.). I do not include a copyright notice in my descriptions (not yet anyway), but you may want to, especially if your work has been stolen a lot by people who don't seem to know that your work is copyrighted.

Also, if you have the watermark turned on, you may want to include a disclaimer stating that the watermark is only for internet security and will not appear on any prints. (You may want to include that in your biography as well).

If you have any suggestions to share regarding descriptions, please share them below!

If you have not already, you may want to check out my tutorial on keywording HERE.

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Cindy Nunn

3 Years Ago

Thanks, JD! Another fantastic tutorial.


JD Grimes

3 Years Ago

You are welcome, Cindy! I know that it is not as detailed or technical as the one on keywording, but I hope that it will at least encourage people to write image descriptions if they aren't writing any at all.


Great thread, JD -- I'm surprised at how often the Description box is left blank or is underutilized! Search engines look at that space, so not putting data there is a lost opportunity.

In addition to some of the things you mentioned above, in my Description boxes you'll also find:

1. Image title, which I also add to my keywords.

2. My full name, which I also add to my keywords.

3. My website address . . . yep, which I also add to my keywords. :-)

4. A suggestion of finish. Many buyers don't know matte from semi-matte from acrylic; I'd hate to lose a sale because someone didn't have the time to write and ask my opinion, or felt uncertain about making the choice on their own.

5. A reminder to check out FAA's framing/matting options.

6. 'If you have any questions' info, including an email address that I only use for answering questions from potential buyers.

With the exception of the image title, and the suggested finish (which may change from print to print) the info in my Descriptions is all cut & paste, and takes only a few seconds to drop into place. A minor investment to make visitors more comfortable with the idea of becoming purchasers -- and to put a bit more SEO power on any given page.

I have a copyright notice in my profile, but think I might start using the symbol in my descriptions, too. Thanks for the reminder, JD!

Click this image for an example of how it all comes together (which reminds me -- I wonder when Admin is planning to fix the Description box data format on our artistwebsites?):

Photography Prints


JD Grimes

3 Years Ago

Some great suggestions, Wendy! Thank you for sharing!


Georgiana Romanovna

3 Years Ago

JD, thank you for this information and for yours, Wendy. Great advice from two wonderful artists!!!


Thank you! I was happy to contribute.

It's unfortunate that more FAA members haven't chimed in with ideas, but great to see that quite a few have looked at the thread, at least. Thanks for opening this line of info, JD. :-)


Jane Haslam

3 Years Ago

I always put a brief description of my image, but didn't realize that it was important with regards to search engines.. thank you Wendy. I'm interested that you use your website address as a keyword too. Thanks Wendy, thanks JD...

I have a question though .. mainly regarding keywords... some websites limit the number of useful keywords to the first 10 or so, is this the same or is it best to use as many keywords as possible that relate to the image????


Hi, Jane -- glad you found this thread useful. :-)

My understanding is that FAA utilizes all your keywords, plus adds some of their own. Here's a link to JD's awesome Keywording Tutorial:

I've bookmarked it, and plan to rework all my keywords as I visit my various images. Really good stuff!

As for using my website as a keyword, I use 'art166' as a redirected domain for most of my various websites:,,,, and in my YouTube videos, and have done so for several years. Because it's spread all over the 'net, a lot of viewers are familiar with it, even if they don't remember my name. I've seen art166 or pop up in my Google Analytics or Statcounter, so I know it's sometimes used as a search term.

Individual artists can be hard to find on FAA, if you don't have their link handy and aren't sure of the spelling of their name. By adding my domain name to keywords and descriptions, I'm easily found here (and on other sites) -- even if someone has reached the home page and can only remember 'art166'. :-)


Mary Deal

3 Years Ago

I don't have time to read this thread now but another artist pointed some othrs to it. I definitely will read soon. Thank you for this information.


This discussion is closed.