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Photo Search

Written in 2007

Photo search or image search is now big business on the Internet. Most of the major search engines now have photo search capabilities. Google, AllTheWeb, Lycos and AltaVista all have photo search engines integrated into their sites.

There are also a few search engines devoted entirely to photo search such as Ditto.com and Picsearch.com. Ditto offers suggestions for related searches on the left panel along with the photo search results. Picsearch has a simpler interface offering a clean page full of images for each photo search.

Sometimes the photo search engines refer to the major search engines or meta search engines such as Dogpile with image search capabilities. Other time the photo search is confined to smaller databases of images such as those found in online libraries, collections or within commercial stock photo agencies. In addition, newspapers have also developed photo search capabilities.

Government, public and university libraries are all getting in on the photo search craze with their own specialized collections. Also stock photo agencies selling images online or on CD find that the Internet with photo search capabilities are helping their businesses more than just print advertising. Newspapers now have another medium in which to advertise their photo reprints opening a new avenue for revenue for both online and brick and motor companies.

Photo search results conducted in an online library, stock photo agency or newspaper will seldom show up when searching a major search engine, photo search engine or meta search engine. This is due to the fact that these photos are usually stored in databases, which are inaccessible to the search engine robots rather than web pages that are accessible.

Photo search engines are based on textual searches that based on the words that are associated with the images. There have been some experimental attempts to create content-based photo search engines that take image size and color into account, but these are still in development.

A photo search engine usually indexes the photo’s file name and/or alt text associated with the image. Some other information that may be taken into account is meta tag information and other supporting text and captions on the same web page as the photo. This information can also be used to exclude images from a photo search such as images with adult content.

On many photo search engines an advanced query can be made for specific file types. These types include .jpg, .gif and even .png photos, which are the standards for the Internet. On rare occasions you may be able to also find .tif and .bmp photos as well.

In addition, on some photo search engines you will be able to conduct Boolean, wildcard or truncated searches.

Many users believe that images they find while doing a photo search are free and for the most part this is incorrect. User’s need to check the photo usage rights information associated with the images. This information is usually found on the same website as the photo. Even if a website says its photos are free, it is best to check with the photo’s creator for permission to use it.

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