The Marketing Communications unit at the University of Georgia is responsible for capturing photographs that highlight what’s going on across campus. Their team of four photographers produce a lot of images, from student features to campus scenes. These photos are used in various channels and repurposed by many of the schools and colleges.
Photographers shoot and deliver images for a specific job. For example, an environmental portrait of a professor for a specific story. And as part of this job, they might capture other scenes — like the professor doing research or interacting with a graduate student. While some of these additional shots get used, Rick O’Quinn, Operations Manager at the University of Georgia, says “a lot of good images were kind of falling through the cracks.”
During the Atlanta Widen Workshop, Rick shared how his team approached this challenge.
A phased approach to applying metadata
Rick and his team developed a metadata process to achieve two goals: make photos findable and minimize the time photographers spend on data entry. The idea was to divide the application of metadata into three phases, and across three groups. To manage this workflow, they added fields to track metadata completion.
“We're basically using fields that we put in the system specifically just to manage workflow, to be able to tag stuff so we can easily search, find it, and tell somebody, ‘Hey, you need to do this,’" Rick explained.
Phase one: Photographers add basic metadata
Although the University of Georgia's metadata schema contains approximately a dozen fields per asset, each photographer is tied to a metadata type that requires them to input just six or seven of these fields. Limiting the fields they see makes their metadata entry process simpler. “Most of what they are responsible for doing is inputting the description summary,” said Rick. This includes the shoot details, what’s going on in the photo, the unit, location, and any field notes.
And to further streamline this process for photographers, they set up batch processes that allow metadata to be applied in bulk, before or after assets are uploaded. Once their phase of the metadata entry is finished, they use a metadata field to mark it complete.
“We've got saved searches that go in and look for that metadata type in anything that's tagged complete,” said Rick. “And literally all we have to do is come in and select them and hopefully edit them.” At this point Rick makes the switch from the photo staff metadata type — with six or seven fields — to the regular photography metadata type, which includes all of the metadata fields they track in the system.
Phase two: Student workers fill in the gaps
A couple of student workers then review the new photos and add some more generic information, like genders represented and the number of people in the photo. Once they are done they complete the metadata field that tracks their workflow, which signals to Rick that it’s time for the next stage.
Phase three: Final metadata application and approval
Finally, Rick’s colleague Jeff fills out the remaining metadata fields on the files. He then flags it as complete which lets Rick know it’s time to do a final review.
More time for creative work
“It sounds kind of complicated, but what this allows us to do is spread our metadata workflow [across] three different sets of people,” emphasized Rick. This allows their photographers to spend more time on their creative work, and generate more shots to be used across the university.
More stock assets available across the university
After this metadata application process is complete, Rick sends the photographs to their creative director, who identifies the ones that should be shared with the rest of their users. “We are constantly being able to push new images every couple of weeks,” Rick remarked.
The Marketing Communications unit uses a combination of methods to share these images. They feature spotlight searches on the Collective dashboard for employees in the DAM system, and Portals for everyone — including the general public. Anybody that needs assets can go to the Portal, find what they need, agree to the end user license agreement, and download the files.
By using the metadata fields to track metadata creation across team members, the University of Georgia has found a way to increase their creative output - and better serve their users!