Images and metadata from camera traps can serve as an effective conservation tool, but the data must include location, date, and species, and be organized in a manner that allows comparison across projects and across time. Without this standard, camera trapping is a valuable research tool that can answer specific wildlife questions but does not fully leverage the data for conservation ends. Most individual projects are too narrow in their extent of place or time to monitor a species’ distributions. We advocate for a shared data structure that allows archiving data in a format it can be retrieved, compared, combined and reexamined by a broader conservation audience than the original intent. eMammal and Wildlife Insights are two digital repositories that share a Camera Trap Metadata Standard; an open data standard for storing and sharing camera trap data. The standard has a shared language of data units (image, sequence, deployment, plot, etc.) that is the foundation for a nested structure of data. The standard captures the minimal information necessary to share data between projects and offers a foundation for collecting the more detailed data needed for advanced analysis. This data standard is an important step in aligning camera trap surveys with best practices in data-intensive science. Ecology is moving rapidly into the realm of big data, and central data repositories are becoming a critical tool; the metadata standard is the first step needed for a shared, curated, repository of camera trap images and data.