Flickr for Photo Workflow

Many higher ed institutions use Flickr to share photos with their constituents. We launched DU’s Flickr site this summer. We also set up an “internal” Flickr account for our overworked photographer Wayne. It was meant to cut down on his daily grunt work and, I’m happy to report, it has. Here are some of the efficiencies it has garnered for him since its inception:

  • Fewer in-person client reviews: Wayne is hired by various departments for photo shoots. After a gig, he used to schedule an in-person meeting with his client to review and choose the final photos that the client would ultimately take away with them. With the introduction of Flickr, he now uploads all the photos from the shoot into a Flickr set and gives the client access to it. The client then goes through and chooses the photos they wish to keep and deletes everything else. Our photographer saves himself an average of half a work day per week which frees him time to shoot other jobs, time to post process a client’s final selections and time to take care of non-billable, house cleaning tasks.
  • Fewer photo searches: Wayne, as the sole photographer for the university, continually receives photo requests for use in various materials (marketing collateral, website, banners, etc.). Each request required him to go through his archives and ferret out an appropriate sampling of photos. Clients would either come to him in person to review or he would burn a CD with images and send it to them. With Flickr, he is now able to send people to an online archive of photos (in this case, he sends them to either the internal account or the public one). Once there, clients can download high res versions of anything they find and know that whatever they come across is approved for usage.
  • Fewer variable costs: While not a huge area of servings, Wayne is able to cut down his use of CDs, jump drives, etc. because he now uses Flickr as a delivery method instead of physical media

Current Workflow

To make this work for Wayne, we plugged Flickr into his existing workflow so that his routine wouldn’t be overly disrupted. That process goes something like this:

  1. He downloads photos from his cameras into Lightroom
  2. He does a first pass through the raw files and throws out any obviously problematic photos
  3. He uploads the photos into a Flickr set using Jeffrey Friedl’s “Export to Flickr” Lightroom plugin
  4. If the set is uploaded to the public account, the set is marked as private and an automatic Twitter message is sent to one of our editors for title, description, and other metadata inclusion before being marked to public
  5. If the set is uploaded to the internal account, he gives his client access to the page and waits for them to choose the final shots they want

Truth be told, the above ideas are still being tweaked as the dust settles. Even so, Wayne has saved himself a good deal of work while our department has better served our internal clients as well as expanded our content offering to our various audiences (through direct hits to Flickr as well as embedding content into our core website- our annual report site is a good example of that).

Opportunities and Problems

One other workflow idea we’re working to incorporate now is to include the university’s archive team. The holy grail here is to have Wayne send his photos to archives for inclusion into their storage system and then pull the images we want to show in our public Flickr account from their database. The benefit gained is that Wayne has to send his work to archives anyway (per university policy) and, since the archive team appends a consistent set of metadata fields to each image, we can skip the step of using up an editor’s time to do the metadata work on the Flickr site.

Another idea we may try is based on an idea from Brad Ward. The jist is to use some fun gadgets to auto upload images in real-time from Wayne’s camera while he covers an event live.

One issue we’ve encountered is whether or not to make the internal account private or not. We didn’t, for example, want to post hundreds and hundreds of photos of any single event for public consumption, but Wayne has found that managing client credentials needed in order to access the private account was becoming more work than it was worth. So at the moment, all the photos are public, but not promoted in any way.

Other little issues have cropped up, but nothing that can’t be solved. We’ve reaped a lot of benefits from this move and are happy we did it.

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