Higher education marketing and communications teams produce massive amounts of visual content every year. The question is, how do you capture and share that content in a flash to engage your audience? How do you make sure you can find it quickly when you need it again later?
Watch our on-demand webinar, 10 Ways to Work Faster with Photos and Videos on Campus, to learn how you can speed up your visual content workflow. Plus, scroll to read through our panelists’ answers to your questions (including the ones we didn’t have time to answer during the Q&A!).
Q&A with Higher Ed Visual Storytelling Experts
Check out the Q&A below with our panelists:
- Caroline Summers, Libris Account Executive, former photographer and Director of Photographic Services for Samford University
- Kristin Twiford, Content Marketing Manager for Libris
Section 1: Organizing Your Visual Media with Metadata
Caroline, when you were on campus, did you have just one person managing your media library or was it a team effort?
Caroline: There were two of us – the two photographers would load into it. And because we had that metadata policy, we had a standard of how things were being tagged and we were responsible for uploading as we shot.
What are the most commonly used tags for photos on college campuses?
Caroline: Go basic. It’s better to start as basic as possible and go from there. The way we always broke it down was by building, was by school, so that pharmacy people weren’t pulling the school of education stuff. Having those borders so people know that they’re in the right area. Then you can really drill down and start making it more complicated. Start with anything that’s just really simple to help people get what they need quickly, and then as they learn how to search metadata, they can really drill down and find some of those specifics.
Our files don’t have metadata on them. Where should we start? How in-depth do you suggest we go to get started? How little is too little?
Caroline: It depends on how you’ve broken your library down. I think that’s where you start. However your galleries are broken down, obviously there’s some commonality there in each one of those galleries. Start there and batch tag those files. If it’s a gallery of commencement, then batch tag the whole thing as commencement and maybe graduation. And then just start building from there. Go from the most common denominator and start drilling down to the least. You don’t have to have all of the information in there at the beginning, but you do need to have the common denominators that people know to search for, like commencement and things like that.
Can you share a little bit about your process for tagging images?
Caroline: As a university photographer, I had a lot of tags already set up in Photo Mechanic, and those were really my general tags. So, after editing, I’d go ahead and apply all of those, and that information would ride into my Libris library. From there, I would do my drill down tagging once it got into Libris because we talked today about how we wanted to get things out as quickly as possible from events, so by doing that, as soon as those photos went into the library, they’re already searchable by those general keywords, whether it was a football game or commencement. When I did have time, which might be later in the day or the next day, I would put in those names and more specific keywords.
Kristin: Start tagging in batch. As soon as you upload a shoot, go ahead and tag all those files with a couple of general keywords or a general caption, and you can go from there. You might have a few images that are your most important images, and you can go back and tag those individually with some keywords (maybe your president’s name).
Can you share any best practices for creating a metadata policy?
Caroline: Work with the other people who are going to be accessing your library. Find out what it is that’s important to them. For me, working with graphic designers, finding out what their main search issues are – it was a matter of coming to a good agreement on that. But then also having something that’s simple for people around campus, because we had it open for people around campus to go and look so sometimes it was just a matter of searching by college or it was searching by building. But definitely meeting with the people who are going to be your main stakeholders in that library and coming to some kind of agreement on what are the best search options for them is really important.
What are your thoughts on the best way to create a metadata policy for an institution with 16 campuses?
Caroline: If you have 16 campuses, you need a metadata policy, that’s for sure. Otherwise, you’re going to have 16 very different approaches to it. Pull a representative for each one of those campuses – the primary representative – sit down with them and come out with that one comprehensive metadata policy, and then ship that out to everyone who’s accessing your library. You could even make it public. Share that policy with as many people as possible, and make sure that everyone who’s entering that information (and using that information to search for assets) is on the same page.
You can always set up custom metadata, too, because it really helps direct people to exactly what they’re looking for, and that can be part of that metadata policy, as well.
Learn more about custom metadata.
For photo credits, is it best to put the name in the Credit/Provider category or the Copyright field, or both?
Caroline: It’s best to put that information in the Copyright field so it will show up when you’re searching the photographer’s name.
Why does metadata seem to get stripped out of images that are tweeted or on Instagram?
Kristin: That’s a great question, and unfortunately I don’t think a lot of people know that metadata gets stripped out on social media, or on other sites like Flickr.
If you want to protect your images on social media, I think it’s always great to add branding. You could add a watermark or some kind of graphic – you’ll see a lot of pro sports teams do that – to make sure you still get credit for the image even if it gets shared beyond your channels.
Learn more about how social media sites strip metadata from your images.
When entering in a description, is the information being fact-checked before it’s shared? Is there a best practice or a process that you recommend for that?
Caroline: From my days with the wire services, I would say that the photographer is responsible for making sure that the information that they’re putting on there is correct. As far as having somebody fact check you before you put it out, that’s a pretty complicated step. I think it really falls to the photographer to be accurate when they put that information in.
Can you upload from Lightroom Mobile to Libris for on-site editing and tagging?
Kristin: Lightroom Mobile doesn’t have a plug-in option, so you can’t send images from the Lightroom app straight to Libris. We recommend saving the images to your camera roll and uploading them to your library with the Libris Mobile Uploader app. It’s one extra step, but it works in real time.
Check out these stories to learn more about metadata and getting organized:
- Everything You Need to Know About Metadata for Your Visual Media Library
- Video: How to Make Your Media Library Searchable with Metadata
- All Your DAM and Visual Storytelling Questions Answered by Experts in Higher Ed and College Sports
Section 2: Real-Time Visual Storytelling
What is FTP?
Caroline: It’s a way of uploading a lot of files at one time. What Glenn Carpenter’s doing – using that wifi and FTP – as he shoots, it’s automatically loading into his library.
How do you address metadata when FTP’ing and posting to social in near real time?
Caroline: If you’re uploading into a gallery in real time, then people who are waiting for those photos to come in probably already know what they’re looking for and where it’s coming in (so a keyword search won’t be necessary).
Kristin: Right, and once those have been FTP’ed into your account, you could select all and apply metadata in batch.
What’s the next best thing to FTP?
Caroline: Well, if you’re using Libris, using the Desktop Uploader will allow you to upload your photos in bulk.
Kristin: And, if you’re thinking about that real-time workflow, the next best thing would be to shoot wired. Shoot tethered from your camera straight into a laptop if you don’t have that wireless FTP technology.
Check out these stories to learn more about real-time workflow:
- Case Study: Purdue Athletics Streamlines Photo Sharing, Publishing in Real Time
- A Step by Step Look at the Colorado Rockies Real-Time Social Media Workflow
- Case Study: How to Beat the Smart Phone and Publish High Res Images to Social Media in a Flash
Section 3: Production, Gear and Workflow
What’s the best way to source photos and videos if you don’t want to share low quality visuals?
Kristin: Start with making sure you have a real professional behind the camera – somebody who knows what they’re doing. That said, a lot of schools have a lot of success working with student interns or student street teams (check out how Belmont University works with a student street team). Make sure you’re using professional quality gear so you can use the same picture for a brochure (printed at 300dpi) and your website. Using those high quality images online help you catch your audience’s attention.
Caroline: You just can’t overemphasize the importance of having a university photographer on staff. That photographer understands what that campus is about, they understand the feel of the campus, they understand the students, and how those students should be represented. I think it’s important to have both that high quality and someone who understands the audience.
Do you have any recommendations for lower cost photo/video equipment for departments on a tight budget?
Kristin: I used to work for a nonprofit school and I used a Canon T3i, which is pretty affordable. Plugging a microphone into your camera – even if you’re shooting on an iPhone – ups your video quality so much. You can get a $30 wired lavalier mic and plug that straight into your phone or DSLR.
Caroline: There are plenty of options out there for lower cost cameras. Certainly the technology is there for inexpensive DSLR cameras. Having somebody that understands how to shoot is key, because otherwise you’ll have small file sizes because they don’t know how to select those settings.
When you’re shooting an event, do you have to determine whether it’s public or private beforehand? Do you have to get permission to share people’s images on your social media channels?
Caroline: I think it’s different for every university as far as permission on using student images. A lot of universities have it built into their admission policy that if you’re at an event, and the university photographer photographs you, it’s a public event so they can put you on whatever social media they have going on. I think always generally, it’s a good idea just to ask somebody if you have that opportunity. If you’re covering homecoming, and you go up to get their name, because you want their name because it’s searchable to have in your library – just ask them if it’s ok to use for any kind of social media and publications.
Everybody wrestles with that at universities and what is their exact policy, and how clear is it. Because nobody wants to get in trouble for running a photo of somebody who doesn’t want it to be used. Or, heaven forbid, using a photo of somebody that isn’t a member of your university and representing them as a student there.
Have you ever had external photographers get the big University events in place of you? How should you respond?
Caroline: I think the big university events are one of the main reasons for having a university photographer! Hiring freelancers to assist is common but the university photographer generally leads the project.
What video program do you use to edit video?
Kristin: I use Adobe Premiere Pro. I love the Adobe Creative Cloud, and I think Premiere is really intuitive. It depends on your preference. Final Cut Pro and Screenflow are some other popular options.
Go behind the scenes with our team to see our full video workflow.
Aren’t extra bites from videos important? I always grab extra footage just in case.
Kristin: I totally agree, and especially when I have extra time, I try not to rush because I really want to make sure that I get all of the best footage I possibly can. Especially if you’re working on a profile of a student or a professor, you definitely want to get as much as you can, and sometimes those moments that are unplanned are your best moments.
How do you store B roll and video projects? How many years should you hold on to clips?
Kristin: I try to keep any B roll clips that are evergreen, so something that I can continue to use. Obviously, some of that is going to look dated after a while. People are going to leave your organization, especially with students, fashions are changing, things like that. Once you get to a point where it looks dated, you don’t necessarily have to keep it but I would also say holding onto a handful of clips in your archive is really important. You want to make sure that you have that documented.
Caroline: There comes a point where students are graduated or clothes look dated, hairstyles are dated, you definitely want to keep your material fresh. So there definitely needs to be a time limit on how long you have an active section of your library.
When sharing files, is there a best practice?
Caroline: It depends. Libris offers you so many different ways to share files. The Quick Send option, allows you to send tons of photos to somebody quickly (straight to their inbox). Having Invited Users be able to go in and grab what they need when they need it really is the best because it’s self-service. Your Invited Users can just go in and help themselves when they need assets.
Learn more about how to share your assets efficiently.
Kristin: You really have to think about that person’s needs. Do they need to be able to browse and search on their own, or do they just need one photo right now and you can make the call for them so they don’t have to dig through and maybe pick something you wouldn’t want them to use?
How can our team repurpose content from previous years and still make an impact?
Caroline: If you’re shooting an assortment anyway on a project, there’s a lot of extra purpose to it. So, making sure that you have a variety of assets from an event, it gives you the ability to go back and maybe somebody listening to a speaker all of a sudden becomes something you can use to tell an entirely different story down the road.
Kristin: Agreed, and we were talking about that evergreen content earlier – it’s really important that that evergreen content ends up in that go-to place so you can actually repurpose that content later.
Check out these stories to learn more about production, gear and workflow:
- How to Build Daily Video Content at Your Event
- The 15 Best Colleges and Universities to Follow on Social Media
- 5 Innovative Visual Storytelling Tricks for College Social Media Teams to Try in 2017
Cover photo by Emily Paine, Bucknell University.