After reading Starblue's recent article on tying to be a buyer and actually trying to find images I thought that some general search tips would be helpful. Dreamstime presents quite a few useful tools to help narrow down a search.
1. Keyword exclusion/addition. The main search box works as an 'AND' keyword search. Every keyword you type in must be present for an image to be displayed in the results. Note that despite the name, this will find the 'keywords' you've entered in title and descriptions as well as in the actual keywords. As an example, if I search on 'arranged' I will find my candle photo in the top relevancy results, even though I have just used that word in the description. This can cause odd results from time to time.
Since adding keywords to refine a search implies that the images you are looking for are well keyworded, you may have better results excluding the kinds of images you don't want to appear. As an example if you search on 'Tiger' (to borrow CreativeI's example) you will get shots of tiger lilies, and tiger butterflys. One could add 'mammal' as a keyword which would hopefully get rid of butterflies and flowers, but you are counting on everyone with a tiger shot to have used the keyword 'mammal'. A better approach is to click on the 'more dreamfinder options' 'advanced tab' and add butterfly and flower to the 'exclude keywords' box.
After doing that, I'm now down to mostly Tigers, plus Tiger Woods and people with tiger paint :) You can go further of course - you could now go to the 'Model' tab and check the 'no people' checkbox. This would normally work, except it is based on the model release and thus does not get rid of Tiger Woods shots that are editorials. See point #4 for how to deal with this!
2. Category search. In the Tiger example it is hard to get rid of the extra stuff. One option is to start with a category search. You click on 'Animals' under the Category tab. Right above the search results you can then click on 'Mammals' to further refine the results. Now you can go back up and use 'Tiger' as a keyword and click on the 'within category' checkbox. Suddenly I have 4044 shots of actual Tigers... This does rely on contributors getting their categories right - so heads up contributors!
3. Sort by options. Another way to view the results of a search are by using the 'sort by' drop down. There are a few options here, and my take on why to use them:
Relevancy - I go for descending. Not sure why you would want the LEAST relevant results! This combines a number of factors, and tries to favor new submissions, but you still get older ones, etc. One complaint about relevancy results is that a single person's collection of shots from one shoot can overwhelm the results. You can get rid of a contributor using the 'exclude contributor' option. Since you have to actually open the image to see who the contributor was, I open in a new window to avoid losing my search.
Downloads - this is useful both ways. You can find never before purchased images using ascending, and heavily downloaded images using descending. In a lot of cases I would see people looking for something well covered using the download sort. Downloads has the main disadvantage of bringing up images regardless of how related they are. Note that you can also use the 'Image price' option and only select Level1 if you want to see all the images with 4 downloads and under, etc. That can create some significantly different results - for example if you do a search and are getting a ton of 2005, 2006, etc. best sellers you could uncheck the top couple of levels...
Upload date - if you make a lot of purchases I could see going to the upload date to look at new stuff. If I was searching in the same category all the time this it what I would use to see new entries.
4. Other options. Right in the main area are a few other options. By default you get photos and illustrations, but you can quickly refine to one or the other. I find I usually want one or the other if I have something in mind. Note that this is based on the shot having or not having the 'illustration' category set, not on whether it is actually an illustration or photo. You can also check the new 'exclusive' checkbox to see stuff only on DT (nice!). Finally you can get rid of editorial shots, if you want to lose Tiger Woods in my example above.
Hope this helps, or at least gets you interested in the many options at our fingertips!