You want people to do the right thing and cite your photos on the web. Unfortunately, getting your copyright information to ‘stick’ in photos is not as easy as it should be. With Lightroom 3 and Publish Services, this is becoming a whole lot better.
First the bad news.
Flickr converts all files to jpegs, period. You cannot download the original, although you can download a reasonable facsimile with all the metadata, if you follow this tip. But worst of all… the original filename is not preserved no matter what. What?
Yes, unless you use your filename as the title of your flickr images, and you don’t change this – and who does that??? – you will lose the link to original files.
And this sucks, why?
Let’s say someone discovers your fantabulous shot of the sasquatch (that’s code for Big Foot) coming out the forest off interstate 80 and wants to license it from you for beaucoup dollars. They’ll probably want a copy of the original hi-res file you shot in RAW (you did shoot it in RAW, right?). So off you go to your catalog in Lightroom and… wait, the file’s been renamed to 5662352587_4b209a32fe_o.jpg, on your Flickr page called http://www.flickr.com/photos/7549110x@N00/46xxx4597/ and you have some 36,000 pictures in your catalog. Chances are if it’s Big Foot, you could find it, but it’s more often than not the chance shot of a wildflower, where you shot like 600 images and wow, they all start to look the same. You get the point.
Doing the right thing.
Following our proven ‘born archival’ workflow, it’s prudent to embed rich metadata within your shots before you upload them to a service like Flickr. This includes all the appropriate licensing information, IPTC tags, and a solid description of the scene depicted in the shot. The cool thing is that Flickr does a good job of preserving most of this information.
Using Adobe Lightroom’s Publish Service for Flickr, your images will upload with all of this information intact. When someone downloads your pictures and opens them in any decent image software (open source or otherwise), all your info will be there… almost.
Ok, the catch? There are two, and they both are sucky. As we pointed out, you lose the filename. And you lose tags. The filename I almost understand, I guess I could get how it’d be a little bit of programming to put it back or rename the file with its original name. Ok, I don’t really get this, since Flickr has the name in the XMP metadata, but oh well.
But the tags? Flickr is all about tags, so it’s just silly they don’t survive. But they don’t. So what to do?
Embed the title of your original file and any tags you care about in the Description of the image, and this info will travel in all downstream derivatives. It’s a little more work, and there’s no way to batch process this in Lightroom (but there is with other tools, more on that in an upcoming tip).
Check out our file example and see for yourself.
Last, the good news!
We’re really excited to finally have a workflow where all this really cool and useful information is actually preserved, and we can even find originals years later. This opens up some great options for using services like Flickr to share high quality content with little sacrifice.
Give it a try and let us know what you think. We’re always keen to hear new ways to make sharing better, so don’t be shy!