Visual Edge '98

Photo Indexing Examples

Prepared by Stephanie Willen Brown
Library Director
Springfield (Mass.) Union-News and Sunday Republican
Visual Edge '98 Archive Program
September 1, 1998

These examples of photographs from the Springfield (Mass.) Union-News were used to demonstrate certain aspects of indexing newspaper photographs in an electronic archive. This display includes the photograph, cutline, photographer, keyword, and sample free text entries. They were used as part of a presentation at the Archive Program at Visual Edge '98, September 1, 1998, St. Petersburg, Florida.

A sample keyword list and text of the presentation are also available.

Examples | Group Indexing | Extra Credit Indexing | References


Fred Perry on trial

Caption: NORTHAMPTON, 3-19-97. Frederick Perry holds a dumbbell bar while under cross examination in Hampshire Superior Court on Wednesday. Mr. Perry testified to hitting Billy Paige with a similar bar while he was at the Perry's Chapman St. home.

Photographer: Matthew Cavanaugh


Free text: evidence, murder, trial.


Children swinging in sunlight

Caption: BRIMFIELD, 8-19-98. Left to right, James Keizer, 7, of Brimfield and Adam Coolong, 6, of Brimfield swing at the Brimfield Elementary School playground.

Photographer: Morris J. Kennedy


Free text: summer, children, kids, swinging, smiling, laughing, having fun.


Child feeding sheep

Caption: WESTFIELD, 8-23-98. Casey A. Rhodes of Mendon Mass. feeds some sheep from her family's farm during the Westfield fair.

Photographer: Juan Pedraza


Free text: sheep, feeding, hay

Note: this is a really good candidate for keyword indexing.


Moving into a new office

Caption: WEST SPRINGFIELD, 8-21-98. New principal of Ashley School, Joseph Bregoli readies his new office at Ashley School. Bregoli was principal of Memorial School before.

Photographer: Chitose Suzuki


Free text: end of summer, moving into new office, unpacking, bookshelves, mess, office.

Note: this is a really good candidate for free text indexing, and a bad candidate for keywording.


Glass mirror

Caption: HOLYOKE, 8-5-98. Michelle Lalchandani shows her hand made stained glass mirror refracting roses she used for a wedding theme package in her basement.

Photographer: Chitose Suzuki.

Keywords: CRAFT

Free text: craft, glass, flowers, pride

Note: the word WEDDING is in the cutline when really this picture has nothing to do with weddings. This is one of the dangers of relying only on the cutline for newspaper photograph retrieval.


Armenian dance

Caption: SPRINGFIELD, 8-23-98. Peter Bagdigian, left, his twin sister Patricia Buttero, both of Farmington, Conn., and Linda Zarzatian of Hudson, New Hampshire, join hands while dancing to live music during Armenian Fest '98 at St. Mark's Armenian Church in Springfield on Sunday.

Photographer: Christopher Evans.


Free text: twin, line dance, family or relatives, twins.


Y2K balloons

Caption: 8-19-98. Greeting visitors to the Dataprofits Y2K party was Kelly Scagliarini of Springfield.

Photographer: Chitose Suzuki


Free text: balloons, Y2K

Note: this photograph illustrates the importance of having a flexible keyword list. The idea of Y2K did not exist a few years ago, yet here is a photograph "about" Y2K. Other examples: AIDS, Internet, El Nino, etc. In this case, there is a scope note in the keyword list instructing indexer and searcher to use the combination of COMPUTER and MILLENIUM to describe photographs about Y2K.

Group Indexing

Examples | Group Indexing | Extra Credit Indexing | References | Home

Children dancing

Caption: WESTFIELD, 8-23-98. The Dance group "Girls Inc." from Worcester Mass. dance to the tune of "Men in Black" during the Westfield fair.

Photographer: Juan Pedraza


Free text: barefoot, wooden floor, black and white leotards.

Note: would you add a word like ETHNIC or MULTICULTURAL here to indicate that this is a group of children of different racial backgrounds?


Teaching the elderly to use computers

Caption: LUDLOW, 8-19-98. Henry Haste, of Ludlow, back, shows Mary Rapska of Ludlow the workings of Windows '95 during a computer class Wednesday at the Senior Center.

Photographer: Dave Roback


Free text: ergonomics (bad example of....)

Note: would you include something here about the racial breakdown of the couple? Could be used to illustrate a story about computer use among people of different ethnic backgrounds.


Cellucci & Harshbarger at Ashe's picnic

Caption: AGAWAM, 8-19-98. Acting governor Paul Cellucci, left, and Attorney General Scott Harshbarger share a laugh Wednesday afternoon during Hampden County Sheriff Michael Ashe's annual clambake at Riverside Park.

Photographer: Don Fontaine


Free text: schmoozing, laughing, casual

Note: what about the guy behind Harshbarger's shoulder? Is he someone important? Might he be someday? Think about the person who found the video clip of President Clinton hugging Monica Lewinsky at the rope line. Surely that wasn't indexed; but it probably took several hours of searching through video to find!


Renovating the police department

Caption: NORTHAMPTON, 8-19-98. Douglas Williams, of Northampton, installing drywall in an office of the detective bureau at the Northampton Police Department.

Photographer: Bob Stern


Free text: ladder, office

Note: the next three pictures are all in some way "about" police. This one takes place inside a police station; the next is police officers in action, and the third is a police sketch. All three pictures could have the word POLICE in the keyword field. But only one is really about police activity. And if you look carefully, that picture - the next one - is the only one that doesn't have the word police in the cutline.


Police in action

Caption: SPRINGFIELD, 7-29-98. Officer Frederick Peck, left, and Officer Jayme Sharpe, right, at a traffic stop on Pine Street in Springfield.

Photographer: Dave Roback


Free text: police in uniform; police car; daylight

Note: this is the only one of three police shots that is really "about" police work and the word POLICE is not in the cutline - another example of why relying on the cutline for electronic searching isn't foolproof. Also be careful not to assume that this is an ARREST. If it's not an arrest, how else would this be defined in the keyword field?


Police sketch of suspect

Caption: 2-11-98. A Northampton Police Department sketch of a man wanted for questioning regarding a robbery that occurred on 2-3-98 in Northampton.


Free text: suspect, police sketch

Note: With just this cutline, we don't know who this suspect is or might be; we also don't know who the robbery victim is. Without that information, this sketch becomes virtually useless except as an illustration of a generic police sketch.

Extra Credit Indexing

Examples | Group Indexing | Extra Credit Indexing | References | Home

Picking tomatoes at a farm

Caption: HADLEY, 8-19-98. Eleanor Rytuba and her grandson Alex Rytuba, 5, both of Hadley, picking tomatoes at Rytuba farms along Bay Road in Hadley.

Photographer: Bob Stern

Keywords: FARM, SUMMER

Free text: tomatoes, relatives, grandparents, grandchildren


Medical emergency

Caption: SPRINGFIELD, 7-24-98. EMS rushes a child to the Bay State Medical Center from the med flight at the bay State Medical Center.

Photographer: Chitose Suzuki


Free text: drowning victim, helicopter, medical

Notes: It's hard to index this picture from the photographer's cutline, because there is no identifying information. The child was a drowning victim; it happened quickly, and the photographer didn't get the name of the child. But we don't have the name of the child, either, so without much further research, this photograph won't end up with other photographs of this child's drowning.


Protesting over needle exchange

Caption: SPRINGFIELD, 8-17-98. Springfield residents opposed to a needle exchange program stage a protest before the Springfield City Council.

Photographer: Christopher Evans


Free text: needle exchange, signs, crowd

Notes: Would you really use AIDS as a keyword here? The photograph needs more identification than just DEMONSTRATION, but needle exchange isn't only about AIDS. Another question: does it matter, when indexing DEMONSTRATIONS, which side of the issue the demonstration supports?


Juggling for children

Caption: WESTFIELD, 8-18-98. Henry (the juggler) Lappen of Amherst performs at the annual Westfield Boys & Girls library summer reading program's ice cream party at Stanley Park.

Photographer: Don Treeger


Free text: juggling, lots of children, colorful

Notes: While this is a event sponsored by the local library, it doesn't happen at a library and isn't "about" a library, so that keyword isn't used. The word can be retrieved from the cutline. Other important aspects of the picture include juggling, which is captured with the keyword PLAYING; the word "juggler" is in the cutline. Keywords don't address the notion that there are quite a few children in this photograph.


Gay Pride march

Caption: NORTHAMPTON, 5-3-97. Marchers in the Pride Day march in downtown Northampton.

Photographer: Charles Abel


Free text: marching, gay pride, lesbians, mothers, umbrellas, colorful

Notes: The contrast of colorful umbrellas and rain during a parade is not done justice with keywords, nor is the idea of women - mothers? - marching with their children. Still keyword indexing is useful here, in case someone needed photographs of parades taking place in the rain.


Examples | Group Indexing | Extra Credit Indexing | References | Home


Two sources for keywording help on the Internet are:

The (Chicago) TRIBUNE COMPANY PHOTO ARCHIVING TASK FORCE, posted to, JULY, 1995. Provides a detailed list of photo keywords which are *very* helpful. Other examples of newspaper photograph keywords are also available at the Special Libraries Association/News Division web site at

The Library of Congress has prepared a throrough Thesaurus for Graphic Materials which is available both on the web and in hard copy. ISBN: 0-8444-0889-1. This is a *tremendous* resource in the general field of photograph indexing.


Examples | Group Indexing | Extra Credit Indexing | References | Home

All images © Springfield Union-News and Sunday Republican. May not be reused.

Indexing Photographs
Archiving in News Libraries

Last Updated: 04/9/2001
Carolyn Edds