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How to Handle Gobs of Photos From an Event

  • By , Director of Engineering, Culture Foundry

How we built a specialized tool to get photos from photographers to a client website as quickly as possible.

Culture Foundry doesn’t just do websites. We’re also software engineering, with the chops to build on-demand specialty tools that help out in other situations. One example of that is a piece of custom photo processing software built to help process and organize large numbers of photos.

One of our clients hosts a marquee event every year. They hire a dozen or so photographers to document the event. Throughout the event, these photographers take thousands of photos (the technical term is “gobs” 🙂 ). Because of time constraints, the photographers can’t reasonable review all their photos and pick out the best ones to share with the client. They want to get back out and shoot.

But the client wants to share photos documenting the experience of the event in near real time.

Just-in-time Photo Studio

Enter the custom software written by Culture Foundry. This application has two main components. One copies the photos from each card, looks at the filenames on the card and associates the photos with the photographer, and resizes them. It then indexes and stores the resized files, along with the originals, on the filesystem. An RDBMS stores the metadata (location, photographer, date/time) for each captured image.

Enter the other component. This custom webapp lets nontechnical users browse through the photos. Users can filter photos by photographer and shot time, and mark interesting photos for further review as they steam in. Others can then view only those ‘select’ photos. This offloads the photo selection task from photographers to anyone with a computer and a photographic eye. As a webapp accessible on the private network from any browser, multiple people can review and evaluate photos at the same time.

When the appropriate photos are found, users can extract resized photo renditions with the normal ‘Save as…’ command found in any browser, and then add them to the client’s CMS or edit and refine for future needs.

Built Fast. And to Last.

These type of tools save effort and lead to a better end user experience. In this case, all parties win. The photographers get their cards back quicker and can defer photo choice to the digital team. The digital team gets more photos but has a way of letting the cream rise to the top and also revisiting photos. The client gets both a timely use of photos during the marque event and a massive photo library for use throughout the year. And the website audience gets to look at quality, professional photos quickly enough to feel present at the event.

This is not the only time Culture Foundry built tools to extend and augment our websites and web applications, but it is a particularly nice example of how our fearless approach to building just-in-time tools can serve multiple purposes and make everyone’s lives better.

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