Why Exclude Metadata?


Today’s Question: I’m curious, other than the likely very rare instance of wanting to remove “location info” from the metadata of an image file, why would photographers want to remove metadata [when exporting photos from Lightroom Classic]?

Tim’s Quick Answer: While the primary reason to want to exclude some metadata from photos you’ll be sharing digitally would be for privacy protection, there are certainly other situations where photographers may prefer not to disclose all the information included in the metadata for their photos.

More Detail: Today’s question was a follow up to an earlier question about including metadata in derivative copies of photos created when you export an image from Lightroom Classic. As noted in that answer, there are options for minimizing the metadata included with exported photos.

For example, there are options to include “Copyright Info Only” or “Copyright & Contact Info Only”, which will obviously cause minimal metadata to be included in those exported copies of photos. There are also checkboxes for “Remove Person Info” and “Remove Location Info”, which enable you to exclude these details even when you have selected the “All Metadata” option in the Export dialog.

The options to exclude information about people included in the photo and location details are obviously focused on privacy. For example, if you captured images in your home studio you may not want others to be able to determine your address. Similarly, if you have photographed a model and identified them with a person-based keyword, you may not want their identity information included in metadata when you share copies of your photos.

These examples are relatively common and somewhat obvious, of course. But you may want to exclude metadata more broadly to exclude keywords that could contain sensitive information about the subject matter. Some photographers prefer to exclude camera metadata so that the details of the equipment and camera settings won’t be available in those exported copies of photos.

In some respects, the desire to exclude metadata in this fashion depends in part on the personal preferences of the photographer as well as the type of subject matter included in their photos. When in doubt, of course, it is perhaps better to exclude metadata as a general rule when exporting copies of photos, only including the metadata when it is necessary for the purpose of sharing the photos. Also, while a very minor factor, excluding metadata will make the files slightly smaller, which can be of modest benefit for images shared online.