OK, let’s turn this thing on its head. We are talking about getting the most from your image assets. This is a pitch to SME owners so here’s the pitch first instead of last. Your entire collection of images, videos, graphics and vectors curated and made available to you and your clients and suppliers 24/7 whenever you want. Images quality assessed, curated, search engine optimised and held in cloud computing to enable smooth and efficient usage and sharing by anyone you decide needs access and you don’t have do anything else. All for the cost of a single monthly coffee.
Before you decide it’s not for you just read the next paragraph.
OK, so you are feeling good about yourself, your website is looking good and you are all over social media. Your web designer has included your favourite pictures in the main website – it’s what it is; and provided you with a user gallery which you can refresh – there’s the gold – right there! Life never is constant is it. If we didn’t know that before, we went to the school of hard knocks in 2021. BREXIT, the pandemic and the anticipated staycation explosion all surfaced.
I have a question for you; does any of your online content cover these issues in the keywording?
Having made the commitment to commission quality professional images – what do you do next?
I have many clients who commission me for interiors, food and drink, lifestyle and travel themed images for specific projects. Those images, already loaded with relevant keywords, generally go straight to the other design and marketing professionals in the chain and the outputs are there for everyone to see.
But those images, video clips, time lapse sequences, graphics and vectors are assets. And, as every entrepreneur and business owner knows, assets need sweating and managing to get the most out of them. Peculiarly images assets tend to live longer than most, they have a longer relevant life, they are fairly low cost to acquire and far more than any plant or equipment, they speak! They speak about the quality of your business; they speak about your passion and they speak about your commitment to the service you offer.
Why then do many business owners keep these valuable assets in the digital equivalent of a shoebox in the attic? Used for an immediate project and then stored away, sometimes in a retrievable form, but forgotten. Those assets can supercharge your social media, maintain engagement and perform chatty news-style updates to you followers, inform your newsletters and every inch of your marketing activity.
Ever struggled to find the image that you need for a new project? Forgot where you put the folder with it in? what hard drive? What computer!
What is it? – Gmail based cloud storage for media assets used for project collaboration by some of the biggest names in global business.
Why would I do this? – any image file takes up a great deal of space on your hard drive. Much better to create your main archive and stash it away somewhere very safe and then just access a cloud storage.
Why can’t I do it myself? – you can, well some of it. You’ll need some software to help you do it efficiently. And Google have gone back on their pledge to offer the service for free.
How do I share? – Want to send new images to your web designer, the local rag and a trade magazine? Just provide an email for those you wish to share with. Share indefinitely or for a time limited period, close permissions for anyone you no longer want to have access.
What do I have to do? – Not very much! Just supply what you want stored and available and tell us about your media and your business.
When do I pay? – Up front for the year.
Can’t I get a free Gmail drive? – You can indeed for a limited amount of storage. High resolution images, movies, and time lapse are BIG file though. This is why, as industry professionals, we choose Google to share vast quantities of data. Google recently updated their terms to open the door for charging for storage (BBC 13/11/20). This is a major change for Google. To capture market share from the competition they said “free, unlimited storage for ever!” and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on storage capacity. Apple for example charges an outrageous fee for big storage capacities. None of us in the media industry thought Google's pledge was sustainable – a case of if it’s too good to be true….. In fairness to Google the service stayed free for a much longer period than any of use thought.
What if things change? – you paid for a year; you get a year. We’ll ask you if you want to renew 1 month before expiry. If not, we clear the drive and wish you well.
What do you do for the money? – We pay the Google fees and then we collect, curate, assess, advise and report on image quality (if we haven't shot them), initial and updated keywording, being Gatekeeper for your image back-up assets, dealing with problems, sorting out misuse and copyright issues, archiving, off site back up, loading to the cloud, loading to a client area of our own image website to maintain an online presence 24/7, backstop your problems, provide marketing advice on usage and where your collections are underrepresented - did I miss anything?
I use Dropbox or WeTransfer. – All perfectly adequate file transfer systems and they are free until you start to use them regularly. Often users upload the same images over and over again to different PR, social media and print companies - it's madness! Work smarter, they generally lack a library capacity and of course there is not much in the way of editable curation and/or keywording.
What if I lose all my stuff? – It happens but we have your back up.
What if the Cloud fails? – no one on Planet Internet likes to talk about this. But it has happened and data was lost. If it happens, we have your belt and braces back up of your archive and can reload the whole lot if necessary.
How come you know about this stuff? – 35 years’ experience in film and digital imaging supplying agencies, books and magazines around the world has left its mark.
Keywording? – Do not get cornered at a party by a keywording expert! It is the text embedded in a picture that tells search engines what is in the picture.
When digital first landed imaging professionals in publishing, stock photo, news and media were already well acquainted with a very efficient analogue storage and retrieval system and the bones of that system together with the new bits digital offered were simply transposed to the digital storage of media. It’s called IPTC data.
It works like this…The Daily Mail wants a picture of an aggressive looking youth to scare the bejesus out of its ageing and introverted readership. First it needs to find such and image (caption - searchable), then it needs to discriminate (no pun intended) this image from others (filename). Once printed, it needs to pay the copyright holder and so it needs to know who the owner is. If a camera magazine wants to use the same image, they’ll need the above but they’ll be just as interested in some of the data. What camera was used, did the flash fire and what was the f-stop and shutter speed. All of this guff is (or should be) already loaded by the photographer, behind the scenes in the image - it's called metadata. Sadly, from my experience of managing client collections, the marketing potential for this optional information is seldom covered adequately.
When Google and other search engines “look” at a picture, they don’t think - Oh look, there’s Uncle Ben standing on the top of Mount Blanc in his skiing gear!
The Internet searches text. All Google sees is the filename, caption and size of the image in pixels (e.g., 3500 long by 2400 tall) and how many pixels per inch the picture has – the resolution. It knows the “map” or code of those pixels too and what “colours” they represent. To avoid looking like a blunt instrument when it comes to trawling the world wide web it crucially also relies on the IPTC data. So, it’s not Uncle Ben per se, but the IPTC data (mountain, Mont Blanc, adventure, Mont Blanc Guided Tours, male, adult, mountaineer, .....etc. etc.) that really wields the power in terms of Internet search engines.
When things change in image terms, which is always by the way, picture editors scramble for relevant content. Generally, the first place they look is their own libraries and then the agency’s, Getty, Alamy, PA Media etc. using the relevant keywords for that particular issue. People like me scramble in real time in the parallel universe to update our image assets with every single relevant keyword we can think of.
Is this a job we could do tomorrow? That thought means, you lost already. Let’s put that in perspective. Captain Sir Tom was one day’s news when he died and he was another on the event of his funeral. But, if you are in marketing, those one day windows are the motherload.
How do we do it? You send us your images however is easiest for you. We look at them, we asses them and let you know where the technical quality of the collection sits; we catalogue them; we keyword them in consultation with you; we make the keywords visible for you by loading them to archive galleries on our own website; we format them to create versions of the originals optimised for social media and press – which we share with you; we load them to a cloud computing folder just for you so that we can update the image keywords; we maintain and back up your archive and we provide marketing ideas.
What we are not. Sadly, IT can sometimes be as challenging for us as it is you. We can’t offer (in this package) support in computer use, training specialists or social media gurus. But we know lots of nice people who can do that too.
If you don’t want to take the service at the moment please at least revisit your archive and ask yourself some of the questions above.
Ask about our terms [email protected]
Sources: BBC online 13/112020 Google Photos abandons unlimited uploads.