Search Improvements

Posted on 6/6/2005 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)



June 6, 2005

With the mushrooming number of images available online and the growing number of portals available, picture researchers are discovering that their task of finding the right image is not getting easier, but in many ways has become more difficult due to the glut of images to search through and the nightmare of organizing the images available from various sources.

Getty Images has long been considered the "gold standard" for searching and acquiring images, but now many companies are saying Getty's way is not the only solution and are offering new options.

Previously I have discussed Visual Search (Story
644) and Adobe's Image Bridge (Story

717), but the following are a few more strategies, recently announced, that may make it easier for picture buyers to find images and manage what they find.

Punchstock New Guided Search Tool

Royalty-free stock photography agency PunchStock is making the process of searching for and viewing their online collection of over 600,000 images even easier, with two major online enhancements. PunchStock's new guided search is a paradigm-busting breakthrough in image search technology

Driven by keyword searches, guided search, based on catalogued image data, sorts results into topical categories ranked by relevancy and volume. The search then guides customers through the image search navigation process to find perfect images without tediously sorting through hundreds of results pages. Logical ordering and helpful user-controlled filters add value to PunchStock's offerings and saves browsing time by reducing the extraneous noise so often returned by most search engines.

"When we decided to focus on search, we weren't too impressed by what we saw out there," says PunchStock CEO Miles Gerstein. "Keywords work pretty well on an image-by-image basis, but different stock companies use very different types of keywords to describe the same images, and even the same companies' keywords aren't always consistent. Instead, we concentrated on organizing all of PunchStock's vendors' keywords in a unique way that our customers will find useful. Finding the right stock image really means finding the right combination of different aspects of an image, aspects that work together to satisfy a particular need. Our new technology concentrates on helping customers discover the aspects of our collection that work for them."

PunchStock has also enhanced their online offerings with the addition of liquid layout - a fluid Web site design that allows customers to reduce wasted browser space and tile large numbers of images by automatically resizing the browser window. Liquid layout empowers customers to expand to view as many image tiles as their monitor size allows. For busy, multitasking graphic designers, this is a welcome change as it capitalizes on screen space and allows control and flexibility of image viewing.

PunchStock is celebrating the launch of guided search with its Find It! campaign, a promotion that includes four all-expense-paid vacation giveaways to Miami, San Francisco, New York City and Cancun for US winners and Amsterdam and Barcelona for winners in the UK. Customers can enter by performing an image search which leads to an entry point.

Digimark Launches Desktop Search Tool

Digimarc Corporation, well known for its digital watermarking solutions, has announced the public beta of Digimarc Image Search, an innovative desktop search tool designed for the rapidly growing digital photography market. The free tool, downloadable from Digimarc's website at, works in conjunction with popular desktop search tools such as Google Desktop Search, MSN Desktop Search, and Yahoo! Desktop Search, enhancing the image search capabilities of these tools.

Current desktop search tools have limited image search capabilities, typically looking for the file name in the header of an image, which can be easily changed or forgotten. Most professional and many consumer photographs are distributed today in digital form with an extensive array of associated information or "metadata" carried within the image files. Digimarc Image Search works with and extends existing desktop search tools by enabling users to:

  • more quickly and effectively find images based on such information or "metadata" embedded into digital images, including keywords, copyright information and digital rights data; and

  • identify image copyright holders and facilitate image licensing by accessing Internet services, where available, that connect to an image owner's website or Digimarc's image registry, which is available to users of Digimarc MyPictureMarc and ImageBridge digital watermarking software.

This beta release supports web updates for images from the Corbis stock photography library and for all other images that use Digimarc digital watermarking products.

"With the release of the Image Search tool, Digimarc once again leads the industry by harnessing cutting-edge technology for use by imaging professionals and amateurs alike," said Jeff Sedlik, past president of the Advertising Photographers of America and professional photographer. "Digimarc Image Search provides photographers and their clients everywhere with a powerful tool for finding and managing the pictures they need, when they need them."

Capture Desk

Capture ( has announced a new, simple to use and inexpensive web-based tool that is designed to aid picture researchers in their search for images.

Beta testers report time saving of up to 50% when they search for images. Some customers of researchers love the system so much that they are assigning projects to picture researchers on the basis that they use Capture Desk.

Unlike asset management programs, Capture Desk addresses all the needs and challenges facing a picture researcher carrying out online work ...and it is simple to use with no software package to install (just use a web browser).

The following are some of the features of this system:

  • Real-time collaboration over lightboxes.
  • Remote picture meeting capability.
  • One-click transfer of images and their information to Capture Desk - straight to the designated page or folder, if you wish.
  • Organise images in multiple folders and sub-folders (for instance, by project, by chapter, by page and by item).
  • Contacts management system.
  • Handle multiple projects.
  • Dynamically annotate either by image, or by folder or sub folder.

  • No need to remember supplier usernames and passwords - just click a button on the Capture Desk contact record to access a site.

  • Manage complex projects with multiple image sources smoothly.

  • Rights management and permissions letters.

  • Present selections of images in a consistent, professional manner.

  • Capture Desk does not require any software to be installed - the only software needed is a web browser, and it is accessible from any machine in the world with an Internet connection.

  • No more emailing of CDs and attachments.

  • IPTC viewing.

  • Negotiate on prices easily with source libraries.

  • Once pictures have been selected for use, save huge amounts of time by ordering from multiple source sites directly from Capture Desk.

    Capture has filed for an international patent of Capture Desk. For a free 14 day evaluation of the system go to:

  • Copyright © 2005 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

    Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


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