How To Create an Image Library at Your Organization

How to create an image library at your organization

Imagine this: You’re in your company’s marketing department and you’re asked for headshots, editorial portraits, action/candid/lifestyle photos, or product images for a project. Or maybe you’re the one who needs these materials from other staff members for your own goals, but you hear crickets chirping when you ask for them. 

How much adrenaline is unnecessarily pumping through your veins and how many “hey can you get me that photo ASAP the deadline is tomorrow” emails are sent around your office each month? How many press releases, ads, articles, and social media posts have you used an “okay” image in, but it wasn’t what you envisioned and felt it was sloppily slapped together?

You know you need an image library– a central location where you store all your digital images and have them sorted, organized, and ready to insert in all your marketing materials and social media posts. But that sounds like it takes YEARS to create or at least countless hours of staring at a computer screen scouring old emails, drives, servers, and practically frisking everyones’ pockets looking for loose photos to add to your library. This blog will help you make the process a whole lot simpler.

How do I make an image library?

Believe it or not, you can actually make an image library quickly and painlessly! (Or at least with less pain than you’re already feeling every time you stare at an empty image field wondering where to get a photo for it.) Here’s how:

Locate your vault. If your company already has a location for storing and sharing digital assets, find it. Is it GoogleDrive, DropBox, Adobe Document Cloud, OnlyOffice, Revver, DocuWare, AWS, or another cloud-based system? Or maybe it’s an internal server your company owns and maintains. Whatever it is, find it and make sure that you can add and rename folders and subfolders in it, and that you can add and remove access for others in your organization. 

Will your people upload files and folders if you give them a link, or will you be more likely to fill your library if you have people email you stuff and you’re in charge of filing it? You know your people and your organization’s system best, so work within it to reduce work and shorten that learning curve for everyone.

Organize your vault BEFORE you put photos in it. Start making your folders and subfolders before you have photos to add to them. It’s easier to organize your closet if you take everything out of the drawers first, and it’s the same with your digital assets. Map out your image library into the folders of images you know you need often: headshots of staff, photos of leaders, company events, logos, partner logos, etc. If this is a project you’ve wanted to do for a while, then having empty folders might give you the inspiration you need to start filling them.

Collect existing photos over time. For the first 6 months you’re retraining your brain to make a new habit: every time you see a photo, determine if it needs to be cataloged because you might need it again later, and then IMMEDIATELY jam it into your library. If you put it on a list to do later, you’ll never do it. It’s faster to just pause what you’re doing now, open your library, and transfer it in there ASAP. Keep a window open on your desktop with the library easily accessible so you can do it quickly. This tip is coming from experience as a photo studio with high volumes of photo cataloging happening daily. If we put folders into an “organize it later” folder it takes MONTHS to get those files to their final destination.

Keep a log to find your weaknesses. For at least six months, whenever you need a photo or other image for some materials, write down what kind of image you needed and how easy or difficult it was to find. After six months, you can see exactly how often photo requests come up, what images have been needed, and which ones usually have the shortest deadlines.

Then you can look at your log and know what photos you’re often asked for and didn’t have on hand, and you can see where your image weaknesses are. If trying to get someone to send you a headshot or an editorial-style photo for an ad or industry write-up is like asking someone to donate their kidney to you and they gripe and moan or take forever to send it (or never send it at all), then you know that’s an image weakness in your organization. If you’re relying on people texting you iPhone photos and videos of your event during the event while they’re also supposed to be enjoying the event, then that might be a weakness too.

Now you can be proactive. Create these images before you need them. Use the data you collected in your log and the smallest folders in your image library so you can schedule photoshoots to create the images you need. You’ll also have the hard facts in the form of your log to get it into your department’s budget. 

Choose a photographer who understands the goal of the library you’re building and can help you create a shot list so you’re not wasting time and money on photos you don’t need, whether it’s portraits of key leaders, staff headshots, lifestyle photos of the office in action, group photos of each practice area or department, candids from company events and conferences, or product shots.

Make it an important project. Now that you’ve done everything you can to make your image library easy to organize, maintain, and share, make it a company-wide goal to complete it and present it as an important infrastructure piece in order to get buy-in from others.

If it has been difficult in the past to collect photos from people (usually headshots from members who don’t want to have their photo taken), then change the dialogue behind it from the heart-attack-inducing “quick give me your photo for this press release” to “this is a proactive image gallery creation project” so they understand and feel its importance and are more willing to participate instead of to crop their head out of a wedding photo and email it to you with “does this work?” in the subject line.

Final thoughts

You’ve already got a lot on your plate! Creating a content library shouldn’t be another stressor. By following these steps, you’ll create a content library that helps you and your organization move towards your goals, rather than being the goal itself. 

Need a content partner to start filling those folders, or advice on what your organization might need? Check out our portfolio for inspiration of different types of photos you might want to create! If you like what you see, contact us for a free consultation to talk through your ideas! 

Author: Organic Headshots

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