In October, the new web photo team began capturing facets of Coop life: wheels of blue-veined cheese, colorful bandana-clad food processors, and staff massages are just a few of the images on our new Flickr photo stream.
As the digital photo collection grows, the Coop’s tech team must grapple with how to store the images and make sure that backups exist.
One major worry? How much trust to put in Yahoo, which purchased Flickr in 2005, and which many blame for its decline in relevance since. In the tech world, Yahoo’s reputation for corporate takeovers is less than stellar.
“I’ve been burned by Yahoo before,” said Matt Kleiman, a Coop staffer leading the web redesign effort with a team of member volunteers. He aired his misgivings at a photo meeting in the 2nd floor conference room.
“I had to create a Yahoo account to get us on Flickr,” Kleiman said. “It made me really uncomfortable.”
He discovered that Flickr no longer offers a “pro” account option, which used to allow for unlimited photo and video uploads and storage. Now the paid account merely blocks ads from the Flickr interface. Storage is capped at one terabyte. That’s a big chunk of space, but it wouldn’t serve the Coop indefinitely because high resolution images make for huge files.
Jeremy Zilar, a design strategist at The New York Times and Coop member helping with the redesign, agreed Kleiman had reason to be wary.
“Flickr used to be a lot like the Coop,” Zilar said. It billed itself as a community, not just a business. Users appreciated that the terms of service agreement was in plain English.
If users wanted to shut down their accounts, Flickr was known for allowing them to download their files — a stark contrast to other photo sites that often charge users for retrieving their own images. Since Yahoo took over, many photographers say the site has suffered.
Misgivings aside, the team agreed to stick with Flickr because it remains popular and other services don’t seem much better.
“We may just need to separate ourselves from Flickr with a single layer,” said Kleiman, referring to a method of backing up the photo files outside of Flickr. “So if something happens to Flickr, we just change that layer.”
Photo Permissions and Using Photos to Tell the Coop’s Many Stories
Valery Rizzo, one of the member photographers, tried out the new PSFC model release, which allows people to give permission to be photographed.
Of roughly 20 people she met during a receiving shift, only two declined to sign the release. She also encountered some staffers who were camera shy.
Ann Herpel, a Coop General Coordinator, said she knew of at least three staffers who didn’t like to have their picture taken. Possibly, there were others. She and Kleiman agreed it would be a good idea to let all staffers know about the photography effort so they could officially opt out.
“Do we need a shoot list?” Rizzo wondered. She had been tagging photos in Flickr so that they could be separated in albums by subject matter.
The team brainstormed about what kind of stories photographers could tell. There’s time — how the Coop changes depending on the hour. For example, deliveries start as early as 4 a.m. Zilar said he was interested in the Coop’s signage. “Everywhere you go there’s some sign that tells you where to go,” he explained. “Some look great and some are beat up.”
Herpel said signage was a fun topic because some at the Coop looked “official” (there’s a signage committee, naturally) but was actually ad hoc. One recent example: the small white laminated sign lashed to the Union Street benches urging members not to leave there pets there. It’s since disappeared.
Other topics for visual storytelling: the Coop’s suppliers, the inventory squad, the overnight cleaning squad and the holiday rush, which has already begun. One corner of the 2nd floor meeting room is already stacked high with chocolate coins for Hanukkah.