How to get your photos found

The do’s and don’ts of tagging your photos on Unsplash

Alex Begin
Jan 27, 2020 · 4 min read

So you’ve got a couple photos you’d like to submit to Unsplash. You click upload a photo, and in seconds — they’ve been submitted. Simple. Then you wait around and watch the views and downloads come in. Sound familiar? Well, there’s something you could be doing to help bring even more visibility to your images on Unsplash. And that’s tagging your photos.

How tags work on Unsplash

Now before you go ahead and adding tags to all of your photos, it might be helpful to understand how our search works — and what kind of tagging goes on behind the scenes.

When you submit a photo to Unsplash, tags are automatically generated to ensure that the image is found in search. But to be honest — there’s things our automatic tagging does well, and things it doesn’t. And while we’ve got some major improvements planned for this year (more on that later), there are also things you can keep in mind when tagging your own photos, that will make a big impact.

To tag or not to tag

So what exactly should you be tagging? Let’s start with an example. Take this photo:

Photo by Annie Spratt

Within the frame

First, take a look at what’s actually in the photo. This is the type of stuff our AI is good at picking up on, but is equally helpful to tag. For instance, these were the tags generated for this image:

A few additional tags we could add would be:
reflection, trees, bridge

Beyond the frame

While tagging the key objects within your photo can be important and help ensure your images are found in relevant searches — it’s also really important to think about what the image is actually evoking. So using the same image as our example, a few additional tags that are more metaphorical or symbolic would be:
country trail, gloomy day, solitude, walking in nature, peaceful moment

Now, let’s take a look at another example:

Photo by Roland Kay-Smith

Within the frame

Some of the automatic tags that were added included:

We could also add:
suspenders, grandparent, grandfather

Beyond the frame

When it comes to the more subjective, symbolic tags — a few things we could add include:
clasped hands, portrait of a man, apprehensive, nervous, uneasy, quiet moments at home

And one last one for the road:

Photo by Nathan Dumlao

Within the frame

Beyond the frame

What other tags can we add to help this image get found in search?
morning routine, latte art, coffee shop, past time, hobby, relaxed, simple pleasures

Tagging Don’ts

  • Avoid spelling mistakes
  • Don’t add inaccurate or flat-out false tags — these will impact the reliability of your tags, and the impact they can make on your photos.
  • Don’t add tags in multiple languages — At this time, Unsplash tags are only supported in English.
  • Don’t repeat tags — this will not strengthen the impact of your tags.

What’s trending

Another helpful way to understand what types of photos our community is searching for, is to check out our trends page. Got an old image in your profile that might apply? Make sure to go back and tag it with the keywords people are searching for.

How to tag your photos

Now that we’ve talked about what to tag, let’s run through how to actually tag your photos:

  1. Upload your photos to Unsplash by clicking ‘Submit a photo’
  2. Once photo is submitted, visit your profile and click on your most recent image
  3. Under the image on the right side, click ‘Edit’
  4. A new window will appear. Hit ‘Tags’ in the top menu.
  5. Add your tags!

Other tips

  • Location, Location Location: We’ve recently added the ability for you to add where exactly you took your photo. That way, when someone is searching for an exact location like the Grand Canyon, you’ll image will appear.
  • Captions are key: Whether you’re sharing a memory or story about why you took the photo, or simply explaining what’s in the image — captions are helpful ways for our community to interact with your work.

What to expect soon

Those improvements to tagging we mentioned? Our team are working on adding the tags generated by our system automatically to the edit modal. You’ll then be able to understand what tags are being added to your images, and remove any inaccurate tags.

Until then, making sure you tag exactly what’s in the photo, as well as what the image is trying to evoke is an easy way to increase your exposure on Unsplash. And if you need help brainstorming tags, head over to the Unsplash slack for feedback from fellow photographers.

Unsplash Blog

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