Photo Editing for the Interactive Audience

Alyzee Lakhani on Spanish Banks beach, shot for Ahimsa Media.

Caption accuracy and editing used to be the main tasks us photographers had to focus on following a shoot.  Today that has all changed.  With a multitude of platforms to display our photographs, most freelancers now have to get to grips with internet distribution too, on sites like photoshelter, flickr and stock agencies.  As a result intelligent and extensive keywording has become a vital tool.

My newspaper background means that I have always been most at home with the new agencies for any sales beyond a newspaper or magazine.  I, like many British press photographers, have many photographs listed with Alamy, yet as my client list widens so do the places I display my work, and with that I have found my workflow techniques evolving.

Everyone has their own process of editing using different software, be it the camera’s e.g. Nikon Browser, professional e.g. Adobe Lightroom or computer based e.g. iphoto.  I use Adobe Lightroom and have found it is a great time saver for multi-use captioning and keywording, as well as embedding photographer information into your images prior to editing.

However it was not until I uploaded our coverage of the 2010 Yorkton Film Festival to flickr that I discovered just how much time can be saved by properly preparing your images.  I’ll use Lightroom processes here as an example, but different software has similar options.

When I open up Lightroom 2 and attach a memory card an option box pops up (see below).  It includes a variety of things you can input for the entire photo batch.  In the local newspaper game each download usually involved several jobs so I wouldn’t fill much of this in, bar my copyright information, (which I have pre-programmed) so I would put in minimal keywording or captioning then download the pictures.

A lightroom screen grab of opening page information

This has recently changed when I realised just how much time can be saved by keywording each image prior to upload and to batch keyword jobs initially. One reason for this is that on flickr you must place quotation marks around each phrase longer than one word to tag or keyword and then a simple space between single words.  Whereas, most other systems use the simple comma to separate phrases.  As a result most of us need to continually remind ourselves to use this method, and it can become awkward when cutting and pasting repeating words.

Whereas, in Lightroom you can place your group keywords in that initial download and then easily add individual words whilst editing.  Take for example the image below:

Screen shot of Adobe Lightroom 2, with keywording options open

On the right hand side of the page the panel gives a variety of keywording options.  You have a list of the keywords already attached to the image (from initial download), then a section to add more, and options for the programme to remember past keywords in groups for you.  It allows you to easily click and add without re-typing.  I tend to keep that option on recent keywords, due to my varying shoots.   Below the keywording panel, is also a keyword list, with ALL your past keywords, which can be handy if you forget spellings. Below this is a section detailing your metadata.  The metadata is crucial picture information: copyright information, caption and shooting data.  This can be edited at either the download section, or within Lightroom. You can also input it in Adobe Photoshop.  (I will explain in a further post the importance of metadata in relation to copyright theft and in particular facebook)

I have found that inputting all of this information into Lightroom significantly speeds up my uploads and keeps my files up to date should I wish to use the photos on a different outlet.  It also means that my contact information stays with my image (bar placing on facebook) so if you wish to upload to various sites you do not need to keep typing the same information.

Embedded information is also very useful should you later wish to put the pictures onto a blog, for example using WordPress.  It can help bring further traffic to the site, because the photos keywords are also added to the SEO of the post.

Delta School District = a Social Media History Maker

Cross-post from DSD Youth Activities

Pretty impressed with the forward thinking of the Delta School District, as as far I am aware they will be one of the first school districts in Canada to fully embrace social media this summer, by actually offering students a course in it.

That’s right, the Delta School District is having me teach two mini-courses this summer on ‘Blogging and Storytelling’ and I’m pretty gosh, darn excited about it.  I love Interactive Storytelling (which is a part of what using social media tools to tell story is), I love to share knowledge (especially that which excites me) and I love working with young people and seeing them get excited about learning.

So details on the classes?  Here they are:

BLOGGING – STORYTELLING RESPONSIBLY & SAFELY (ages 10 – 15)

If our youth are going to blog, tweet or fire up flickr photos – on the new information highways – then might it be wise to teach them to do it in both a socially responsible and personally safe fashion?  Join media arts specialist and Delta teacher Erica Hargreave as she helps students create their stories and characters online in a safe and responsible manner.  This week of storytelling explores the use of social media tools which are becoming more and more a part of their lives.  And of course … don’t forget your digital camera!

Fee: $70

ID 8153     July 6 -10      9:00 – 11:00 am    Seaquam Secondary

ID 8154     July 13 – 17   1:00 – 3:00 pm      Delta Secondary

Nervous about your child learning how to use social media?  Well, I hate to say it, but it is just like sex.  You can hide it from them, but that doesn’t mean they’re not going to experiment on their own.  By showing young people the cool things they can do with social media and storytelling, we can encourage them to be safe, show them how to be safe and how to use the tools responsibly.  I also might add, that it is the knowledge of how to use these tools safely and responsibly that a lot of businesses are looking to young people for guidance, opening those that know how to do this to a lot of opportunity.

Hope to see you and your young storytellers this summer!