Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Concepts, Flickr, Higher Education, Management, Marketing, Photos, Recruitment, Social Media, Technology | Posted on 04-24-2008
It’s no secret that I love Flickr. It’s a perfect blend of community and functionality in the web 2.0 world, and it’s an extremely powerful tool.
Could it also be your solution for an electronic photo database management system?
Let’s take a walk at what Flickr has to offer you, and how it can help you organize your campus photos and provide some additional value to your workflow. We’re going to get pretty in-depth here, so buckle up and refer back often.
Flickr, owned by Yahoo!, comes in 2 flavors: Free and Pro. Feel free to try it out before going Pro, but definitely make the leap at some point. At a measly $24.95/year you can upload unlimited photos, unlimited videos (up to 90 seconds in length, HD quality), make unlimited sets, and files can be up to 20mb in size each. You also get stats on your account and skip out on ads. Think about it. $25 will get you an 16gb flash drive. $25 will get you a 60gb hard drive. $25 on Flickr will give you unlimited storage and backup. So not only do you have the files on your computer, and on DVD stored in another building or location like home, you also have it stored online at Flickr/Yahoo!, who undoubtedly have their own backups as well. That alone is worth the $25 to me. But with the ~40gb (over 15,000 photos) I’ve already uploaded to Flickr, I’m paying less than $1/GB/year for online storage/backup, in addition to everything I’m about to show you. What a great deal. And of course, the cost/GB goes down as I continue to upload more. Economy of scale at its finest.
Uploading Photos into Sets and Collections
When you upload photos, think of a set as an event. Think of a collection as a photo album. When I take pictures at a basketball game, I have a set. When I put all of my basketball games into a collection, I have a photo album. Photos can belong in multiple sets, and sets can belong in multiple collections. It’s organization at its finest. And using the Organizr tool, it’s just as easy as dragging and dropping. Keep your files organized from Day 1, and you’ll be set.
I cannot stress this enough. It will make searching so easy and will make your life easier. When you upload a photo, tag what it’s trying to capture.
For the photo below, I would probably tag it: female, studying, study, outdoors, campus, Mall, laptop, “Butler University” “Butler Bulldogs”
This one might be something like: outdoors, “Ross Hall”, “student life”, friends, basketball.
*Note: When you want to keep words together, put them in ” “, otherwise they will become 2 separate tags.
You see where we are going with tags. A typical classroom shot might look like: student, professor, faculty, classroom, studying, lecture. If you see a shot that would be great for a certain page, tag it! “Admission”, “Alumni”, etc.
THEN, when you get that request of “I’m looking for a shot of some students studying on the in a dorm room”, you go to search your photostream for “students room studying” and boom, there are your images. Don’t be afraid to get specific on your tags, everything I used here was a little generic. You are allowed up to 75 tags on each photo, so tag the heck out of it.
If you are keeping your photos public, don’t forget to tag your university! Use abbreviations, initials, full spellings, or anything else you think someone might search to find your school. Again, 75 tags per photo. Be generous. Then when people are looking online for more info about your school, they get some shots of what your campus looks like.
Also, you can let ‘Friends and Family’ tag photos as well, so if someone else sees something they think might help (“Sunny”, “landscape”) they can add value that way.
Defining Who Can See Photos (and Videos!)
Some institutions insist on keeping all of their photos private and inaccessible. If your department holds these high standards, just use relationships/contacts to decide who can see what. Think of ‘Family’ as your direct office, and ‘Friends’ as other campus members who might need access.
When you upload photos, you can mark a set/collection/photo as viewable to all public, or friends/family (either or both). In the Organizr, choose the photos you want to hide, click Permissions < Who can see,comment, tag? and then make your selection. If you have internal photos that you don’t want others on campus to get to, mark that only ‘Family’ can see them. If it’s a photo that all of campus can get to (again, only campus members who are ‘Friends’…. we are assuming you don’t want the general public to see these photos), then mark the photo as Private, but viewable to Friends and Family. I think you get the idea.
One common thing I hear for a reason of keeping photos locked away is “we don’t want photos overused”. Enter comments. Using a photo for an email? Leave a comment! “Hey, I put this in the header for an admissions email. It went to 5200 seniors.” Done. What better way to keep track of it? And the real question, how the heck are you doing it right now? Pen and paper? Excel? Put that junk away, your new method is right here.
What Size Would You Like?
Print media needs 300 dpi. Web wants 72, and a thumbnail of the picture as well. Resize no more, Flickr fans! After uploading your original high-res photos, just click the ‘All Sizes’ button above the image. From there you have 6 different size options, from a 75×75 square to a standard 100x67px thumbnail, moving up to small, medium, large, and original sizes. Web and print rejoice, and you don’t have to spent time resizing for people’s needs.
Other Great Flickr Tools
Date Taken Calendar
One of my favorite Flickr features is the Date Taken Calendar. Flickr organizes your photo by the day/month/year they were taken, with the info pulled from the EXIF data on the photo. Say you don’t tag well, and someone is looking for a photo from an event and knows the date. Boom. There it is.
If you have a huge campus, it might be worth geotagging your photos. Geotagging means assigning a specific lat/long coordinate to where a photo was taken. Here is an example of geotagged photos at Butler University (there are nearly 1,000 of them). Pretty cool.
With stats you can see how many pictures are being viewed, what your most popular pics are, top referrers, and a few other stats. Check out your top pictures.. what are their tags? Why are people getting to them? The point is to find out what’s working if you have your photos public, and use those tags to get the most visibility of your images.
Joe Gaylor from FJ Gaylor Photography gives more good insight to using Flickr on his blog, offering up this advice:
“By looking at the sampling of Accounts that were “official” school sites, there were a few things I noticed.
1. They looked like they were just batched and thrown on the site, with original file names and not many titles that would be conducive to any search algorithm. No one is ever going to find your images.
2. There was rarely a caption that was worth looking into further that would make me want to click on a link to the website..
3. There weren’t links to click on, that would take me to the school’s homepage.
4. When clicking on the “profile page”, very few had a link to the school’s site either.
Flickr API and 3rd Party Tools
There are so many additional features through the Flickr API that extends what you can do with the site. Here is a great page that lists quite a few of them.
Well, as always I feel that I have barely scratched the surface of this powerful tool. What are some ways that you see Flickr as useful for higher ed? What else would you want out of a $25 photo database management system? As the cost of online storage and cloud-based service continues to drop, it’s economical and efficient to start researching web-based tools such as Flickr for your office’s digital organization.