Extensible Metadata Platform (.xmp)

Adobe Systems's Extensible Metadata Platform (XMP) is a "labeling technology" that allows metadata to be embedded into a file itself. Programs such as Photoshop use XMP to record descriptive metadata using IPTC Core (see below) fields, among other descriptive metadata. It can also be used to record photographic processing instruction sets, such as cropping, contrast and color adjustments, etc. Many of the metadata tags are Dublin Core. In Adobe Photoshop there is an option to save XMP information in a "sidecar file" that has it's own .xmp file extension. (Confirm and clarify this distinction between sidecar and embedding.)

Exchangeable Image File Format (EXIF) "is an unofficial site dedicated to EXIF and related resources. EXIF is a standard for storing interchange information in image files, especially those using JPEG compression. Most digital cameras now use the EXIF format. The format is part of the DCF standard created by JEITA to encourage interoperability between imaging devices." It exists solely "to provide a convenient point of reference for users of the EXIF standard, and is neither owned nor maintained by the creators of EXIF. It is as such wholly unofficial."

Embedded Metadata

International Press Telecommunications Council

The Embedded Metadata Manifesto initiative [which "picks up where the Stock Artists Alliance "Metadata Manifesto" left off"] was created by the IPTC - International Press Telecommunications Council with support from the American Association of Advertising Agencies and the Association of National Advertisers. The Embedded Metadata Manifesto defines five guiding principles for creating and storing metadata, so important data is carried with the file wherever possible. The initiative proposed five guiding principles in its manifesto:
  1. Metadata is essential to describe, identify and track digital media and should be applied to all media items which are exchanged as files or by other means such as data streams.
  2. Media file formats should provide the means to embed metadata in ways that can be read and handled by different software systems.
  3. Metadata fields, their semantics (including labels on the user interface) and values, should not be changed across metadata formats.
  4. Copyright management information metadata must never be removed from the files.
  5. Other metadata should only be removed from files by agreement with their copyright holders.

Guidelines: Minimal Descriptive Embedded Metadata in Digital Still Images

Created by EMDaWG (Embedded Metadata Working Group) of the Smithsonian Institution in April 2010, this document defines the minimum proposed descriptive embedded metadata for digital images at the Smithsonian Institution. This document identifies the following:
  • Recommends a minimal core set of embedded metadata
  • Required core set of embedded metadata.
  • Both IPTC Information Interchange Model and Extensible Metadata Platform (XMP) are discussed for embedded metadat; no preference is expressed.
  • Required core set of embedded metadata.
  • Suggested extended set of embedded metadataRecommendations of data value types not to embed in digital images.
  • Controlled vocabularies.
  • Recommendations when working with vendors who will be embedding metadata.
  • Appendices for IPTC Element Narratives and Examples of IPTC fields mapped to various imaging programs.

International Press Telecommunications Council (IPTC)

The International Press Telecommunications Council (IPTC), based in London, "is a consortium of the world's major news agencies, news publishers and news industry vendors. It develops and maintains technical standards for improved news exchange that are used by virtually every major news organization in the world."


Specification Version 1.1 (July 2010)


Items of note on the IPTC Photo Metadata Webpage includes links the CEPIC-IPTC Image Metadata Handbook [current version April 2011], (CEPIC stands for the Coordination of European Picture Agencies Stock, Press and Heritage) and the Information Interchange Model (IIM).

Items of note available on previous IPTC Photo Metadata webpages included links to "Photo Metadata White Paper, 2007" and the "IPTC Photo Metadata Roadmap." The latter (released 3 July 2007) "outlines planned photo metadata activities of the IPTC and in particular of its Photo Metadata Working Group." The white paper, published in May 2007, covers a list of "metadata properties, . . . a set of typical photo workflows, . . . and a discussion of how photo workflows can be improved by a consistent use of metadata."

IPTC Photo Metadata 2008

Specification (2008)

The specification is divided into two schemas: IPTC Core schema (version 1.1) which refers to properties from the IPTC Information Interchange Model, and the IPTC Extension schema (version 1.0) which extends the IPTC Core schema and incorporates related properties from the PLUS metadata schema.


Automatic Exposure—Technical Metadata

"This RLG-led initiative advocated capturing standard technical metadata about digital images automatically, as part of image creation. The goals were to minimize the cost of acquiring this information and maximize its availability for preserving and maintaining access to images. . . . "Automatic Exposure" promoted the adoption of the emerging standard NISO Z39.87: Data Dictionary—Technical Metadata for Digital Still Images. Z39.87 defines a comprehensive set of data elements that are key to an institution's ability to manage and preserve its digital images. RLG engaged manufacturer-vendors of high-end scanners and digital cameras, as well as cultural heritage professionals, to determine how their devices could automatically capture Z39.97 elements for use in digital repositories and digital-asset management systems.

Stock Artists Alliance

In 2006 the Stock Artist Alliance published its "Metadata Manifesto." [See also "Embedded Metadata Manifesto" under IPTC.] In August 2007, the Library of Congress awarded the alliance a $100,000 partnership in the National Digital Information Infrastucture Preservation Program. The following year, project partners included Microsoft, Adobe Systems, PicScout, CameraBits, IPTC, and Photoshelter. 2008 also saw the creation of a "Meta Survey" to learn what kind of photography survey takers practiced, which software applications they use on a regular basis, which metadata fields they use on a regular basis, and to what extent they used digital cameras and RAW formats. In 2009 the Stock Artists Alliance held ten "getMETAsmart" events in various United States cities to teach photographers "how to use metadata to improve their workflows and their bottom lines." The organization's activities, as reflected by updates to its 2009 website, appear to be dormant. Tutorials and explanatory webpages, however, remain useful.