Should You Care About Metadata in Your Photos? Here’s Everything You Need to Learn About What is Metadata and How to Use It

The concept of Metadata is simple. Metadata is essentially the information about the data. Examples of metadata are all around us, especially in our digitally connected world. There’re examples of technical metadata and business metadata.

man using laptop


Metadata is critical, not only on the internet but also important from a business aspect. The other way it can be important is if you have an extensive collection of images in your system and you want to find a picture in say 5 minutes. Metadata is the answer to that. A simple illustration of metadata would be to type in specific keywords into Lightroom that will return all of your photos that match that metadata.

Metadata in Photography

In the context of photography, what is metadata? Metadata refers to data about the image such as the dimensions, the pixels per inch, the copyright owner, keywords, etc. Metadata is useful because you can use metadata to help search for images, to protect your ownership rights, and it’s great for workflow use.

This means that if somebody else is going to be using those images, for example, a newspaper or a magazine, you can embed all kinds of details in your image which will show up in all kinds of applications.

For example, within the JPEG image, the exchangeable image file format tags the file with various pieces of useful information. Digital cameras will put in all the useful information such as the exposure time, the camera settings, etc.

man with camera


How Is Metadata Useful

Metadata is most useful  for two purposes.  Photographers often embed their own business info into their photos automatically with their camera which ensures that no matter where the image is posted, it retains their business info and they own the copyright of that photo.

photo metadata

The other most useful area you’ll be seeing metadata is searching for specific images that contain a certain type of technical metadata attribute.

The best tool to do these “searches” is inside of Lightroom.

For example, if I want to search all the photos I’ve ever taken (that are inside Lightroom) with my Nikon 85 1.8G lens, I’ll do a search in Lightroom and it’ll bring back all of the photos that contain that metadata attribute.

metadata in photography

The good news for you, that kind of metadata is automatically added into your photos – so you don’t have to add any metadata on your own!

However, you can add metadata into your images too inside of Lightroom.  For example, let’s say you are editing a wedding and you add keywords to your images for the different aspects of the day.

You can add keywords into Lightroom like – bride portraits, ceremony, reception, family portraits etc…

In that case you’re adding metadata in which you’ll be able to more easily search and sort through whenever you so choose!

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Adding Metadata to Images in Lightroom

Lightroom automatically writes adjustments and settings metadata to the catalog. You can also manually save metadata changes. To see this or adjust these settings, choose Edit > Catalog Settings (Windows) or Lightroom > Catalog Settings (Mac OS). To manually save metadata changes to a photo in Lightroom, select one or more photos in the Grid view of the Library module and choose Metadata > Save Metadata To File(s), or press Ctrl+S (Windows) or Command+S (Mac OS).

Metadata is an important addition to include in the image file. It’s a professional way to ensure the privacy of image files. In most cases, the metadata can be removed from the file as needed. Even then, photographers work very hard to include exact metadata that will make their files more organized, retrievable and copyrighted for future use.

You can view the metadata of your images in Lightroom in the Library module, in the Metadata panel on the right hand side. See the example below:

how to view photo metadata


For the record, when dealing with metadata, it’s important to give metadata the proper attention it deserves. It’s a learning process and many experienced photographers and designers at times forget to focus on tagging, geolocation, keywords and other stuff. In conclusion, this methodology of incorporating metadata will help you improve your organizational skills as a professional photographer.

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