Search team: Disentangling fishing nets from fishnets, one Nicki Minaj outfit at a time

January 4, 2013 | By Patrick Carroll | Technology, What We're Working On

Footage of Shinto ceremonies, full-length red carpet shots, Siberian tigers running through snow – We want to ensure our customers can find what they’re interested in on Getty Images or our numerous sister sites, whether they speak English or Japanese, Portuguese or Swedish.

That means having the right keywords on our vast store of images, and having those keywords searchable in 19 languages (and counting).

So when the Search Data Strategy teams find out who made that outfit Nicki Minaj wore to the awards show, we need to quickly enable our customers to search for the show, the designer, Nicki Minaj or any combination or misspelling thereof, in any language.

Our challenge is to disentangle fishing nets from fishnet stockings. The keywords, anyway. We clarify whether the keyword a given image really needs is computer mouse, or the type that scares elephants. Whether editing individual keywords or building efficient processes to quickly automate keyword changes, our Search teams are constantly deciphering and creating keywords to improve our customers’ search results.

Our challenge is to know the Italian for ‘power walking’, the Dutch for ‘mermaid dress‘, or to point the Japanese word ‘Komorebi‘ to images of sunbeams streaming through foliage.

We work closely with partners to make it easy for customers to locate the remarkable images flowing into our Creative collections.

We scrutinise customer search logs, event bulletins and news sites to ensure new keywords — for anything from a rising star of politics to a hot new fashion label or breakthrough scientific research — are created in our ever-growing controlled vocabulary, which has 619,000 terms and synonyms in American English alone.

We scour our archives and original daybooks to discover the details behind long-hidden archival content, adding captions, dates and more to archival images that are topical, humorous or rich in history.

Every day, this hugely varied metadata work is done retroactively across our 65,000,000+ images, and in particular on the tens of thousands of brand-new images that enter our systems daily.

The Search Data Strategy team spans nine locations in three continents — from Japan to Calgary, Dublin to Seattle. Without the keywords we create and maintain, customers wouldn’t be able to find images of José Mourinho, 1941 photos of “Citizen Kane,” or videos of hummingbirds in super slow-mo.

Below are just a few of our more recent keyword additions.


Simple Living:


(Photo by Rhiannon Llewelyn/Getty Images 81938225)


Real body:

Real  body-Cloke Bryn-Image Source-Getty Images-84492511

(Photo by Cloke Bryn/ Getty Images 84492511)



Cloud computing:

Cloud Computing-Jon Feingersh-Blend images-Getty Images-156410668

(Photo by Jon Feingersh/ Getty Images – 156410668)



Hurricane Sandy:


Water rushes into the Carey Tunnel (previously the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel), caused by Hurricane Sandy, October 29, 2012, in the Financial District of New York, United States. Hurricane Sandy, which threatens 50 million people in the eastern third of the U.S., is expected to bring days of rain, high winds and possibly heavy snow. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the closure of all New York City will bus, subway and commuter rail service as of Sunday evening (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)





KARA perform during their comeback press conference & Showcase at SBS Open Hall on September 14, 2011 in Seoul, South Korea. (Photo by Ten Asia/Multi-Bits via Getty Images)



Augmented reality:


An engineer holds an iPad with an example of an interactive guide program called “augmented reality” that will be installed in the new Fraunhofer Building Technology Showcase October 2, 2012 under construction in the Innovation District of Boston, Massachusetts. Augmented reality will serve as a 3-D guide to a variety of building heating and cooling systems, air-circulation and electrical lighting incorporated into Fraunhofer’s new Center. Included in the building will be the Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems, a testing area for building related industrial firms testing their new systems of sustainable technologies, materials and concepts and monitored by Fraunhofer’s Research & Design engineers. Part of the testing facility will include a Building Energy Efficiency Group which works to accelerate development of the next-generation of energy-saving building technologies and practices. The Fraunhofer Institute is Europe’s largest applied research organization with over 20,000 staff and offices in Europe, U.S.A., Asia and the Middle East. (Photo by Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images)

Editor’s note: Patrick Carroll is a Senior Search Vocabulary Editor for Getty Images based in London.


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  • Eko Dost

    Cloud computing photo is very creative.

  • dhilip

    that is nice image