As 300,000 people gathered for the 2018 Women’s March on Chicago, documentary photographer and digital asset strategist Sarah Matheson and a team of 50 storytellers captured the day from every angle.
Together, they created more than 30,000 images. In just five hours, the team had already shared 1,500 images on social media, helping Women’s March Chicago become the top-trending regional march on Twitter. Now, they have a massive archive of historically significant photos that will inspire generations of women to come.
So how did they do it? We asked Sarah to walk us through her team’s process from start to finish. Watch the on-demand webinar below to learn about:
- Their biggest challenges, from navigating the crowd to training 50+ team members
- Their full storytelling workflow from capture to publish
- How they gave team members specific jobs to streamline the whole process
Scroll through the Q&A with Sarah below to get the answers to our questions from the audience, and be sure to tweet any more questions for Sarah @getlibris!
And, don’t forget to check out the rest of our Capturing the Moment webinar series with Professional Bull Riders and the Now Hear This podcast festival!
Q&A with Sarah Matheson, Women’s March Chicago
How rapidly where the team uploading photos during the day of march? How did they choose the best photo?
We knew that the stage was really important and the speakers, and the presentation beforehand was really important, so we had the runners out about every 20 minutes. And as I did mention we were able to get a few images up through the Libris uploader, so that helped out. We had scale, we had quite a few runners, we had quite a few digital techs. So we were getting images up – they were captured and they were up within 15-20 minutes, so that’s a really tight turnaround when you consider somebody’s gotta walk 600 yards, then download. I think that the workflow, going through either Bridge or Photo Mechanic, picking really smart images, getting those into Lightroom, editing, and then getting them out – we didn’t try and do everything. It was – what are the key themes that are coming through social media, and what images will support those?
How did we choose the best images? Images speak for themselves. You just see the excitement in people’s faces, the humor that is in the signs. And again, we had experienced photo editors, and we gave people respect and let them do their job.
You mentioned the Libris Mobile Uploader. Can you explain what your real-time workflow looked like?
I’ve got a Canon 1DX Mark II, transmitter on the side, I download through the Canon (iPhone) app, it goes into Photos, I load everything into the Libris uploader, and it goes straight into the Women’s March Chicago “Incoming” gallery. And then, the team would go in, go 1, 2, 3, and then quick edit and add them to the social media galleries.
How many people do you have tagging images post-event?
At the moment, we’re very fortunate, we had one person who donated a bundle of time, so she did a complete week. And then we had some other people who popped in and out but one of the challenges with these events is that there’s a few people leading up, a few more people closer to the event, enormous amount of people on the event, and then everybody goes back to their day-to-day. So what we have now is that people have rested, and they’re coming back, and they’re giving us two hours there and four hours there.
Did you have an established metadata policy before the event?
Yes. When we did that workflow on that piece of paper when we started with that blank canvas, we went through and started to create keyword and metadata protocols. And then we looked at some of the official IPTC protocols to go ok, we know this is politics, so what does that field need to be. So it’s in sync with what you would find on a Getty or an AP or one of those large image sites. We were trying to have the most professional approach to everything we were doing about these images because it’s not just for today, it is very much for the future.
Did you tag your selects during the event?
Yes. Some people were actually tagging in camera. But most of it was, literally capture everything that you can. Because what we did was have the photographer and the videographer just do capture. And they were very trusting, and they gave their cards over, and then we had very experienced photo editors doing the selection for us. So some of the photographers would tag in camera, but most of the work was actually done by the actual photo editors. Because remember, we’ve got 6 or 7 lots of photos coming from 6 or 7 photographers, so the photo editor was looking across collection.
Can you tell us about how you guys used video? Any issues/differences with the way Libris handles photos vs video, especially during a live event?
Not at all. Most of our video was done beforehand when we did those vignettes with the coalition champions or partners. We produced 100 in two weeks. We loaded the original file and the edited file onto Libris. We have also put everything into YouTube.
On the day, we basically collected all the video and we’ve still got quite a bit to go through and edit. I have to say, we were very focused on stills.
Did you use metadata presets?
Yes, everything was preset. So, you know, the standard ones, 2018 Women’s March Chicago, Chicago, march, sign, all of the normal kind of standard 10 or 12. Depending on who the editor was, if they had 30 seconds, they would add a few more in, but most of that we did when we went back.
So, what we did a lot of, and this is why I like Lightroom, is we did the facial recognition. So we were able to say, for example, we had Attorney General Madigan speak. We were able to go in and say, through facial recognition, this is Attorney General Madigan, go through the whole Lightroom catalog of 30,000 images and find me all the pictures of Attorney General Madigan. The keyword is then added.
So, keywords will save you. It sounds – I find it relaxing to go in and add keywords to everything. My husband thinks I’m crazy, but they will save you so much time. So the more detail you can give, and multiple keywords per image is really important.
Could you share a bonus tip for somebody who’s organizing an event on a smaller scale with a smaller team of volunteers?
The workflow is similar, it’s just scale, so you need to consider the same things. You don’t necessarily need a team of 50, you might have a team of 10, but the workflow is exactly the same.
When you think back to that slide I put up about, ok, you want your DAM, you have your strategy part of it where you do your planning or your documentation, you’ve got your archive, which is what you’ve got before the event or after, and then you’ve got that specific part of Libris which is catered and structured specifically for your social media team. So that flow and that structure can work if you’re doing an event for 10 or for 10,000, or as we did, 300,000.
What’s the most important tip to consider when training others in those pre march meetings?
Everybody’s a professional. You’re here because you understand the value of visual storytelling. I had a very defined conversation with everybody and I said, “we have this workflow because we are dealing with a very large scale, so please follow it.” And everybody was fantastic. Photographers tend to be very independent and we all have our own personal workflows, and we all like our folder structures a particular way and we all wear that as a badge of honor. But when you’re working in this type of team, the workflow is there for a purpose, and we were very fortunate that everybody followed it.
What would you change if you could do it again?
If we could – in the training, we got everybody to bring their cameras and we tried to get everybody to change their file convention so it was the A_P1 for Hub A, Photographer 1. There were one or two camera types that weren’t able to do that, for some reason we couldn’t get them to change it, so that was an extra step that we had to go back to later.
How did you get the original files back to the photographers?
None of the cards were cleared. We made sure that everybody brought enough cards in to ensure that we didn’t have to clear cards. So that was one backup. We then put everything onto the hard drive, then into Lightroom, and then up to Libris so there were three copies of every file. And at the end of the day, all of the cards were named with the photographer’s file convention. So anything with A_P1 was Hub A, Photographer 1 and we knew exactly who that was and those cards went back to that person. So everything had the reference of the photographer. That file convention saved us.
Do you have a favorite memory from the day?
I have to say, when my name was called out and they recognized our digital media team, I just giggled. I’m a photographer, I like being behind the camera. But, what that did was recognize the importance of visual image in the place we are in this political history and this political landscape. And I can’t reiterate that enough. If you reflect back and go, hey, I can remember when man landed on the moon, or this particular event or that particular event, we now have this whole archive to illustrate, hey, this is what happened at Women’s March Chicago. And the whole team should be really proud of that.
Cover photo by Sarah Matheson, Women’s March Chicago.