Using video, images and more to make the most of the mobile, social, visual web

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McKibbon sat down with Ash Barhamand, photography director for WWD and Michele Stueven, assignment manager: entertainment with Shutterstock Rex at the FIPP World Congress today in Toronto, to discuss how they’ve been using video and images to make the most of social, mobile and the visual web.

Images are essential the WWD, Barhamand said. “They’re very important to us as a way of advertising the content we have and the magazine.”

A platform like Instagram is a great brand-building platform, Barhamand said, adding that the trick was not to give everything away when posting content. “WWD is mostly behind a paywall, so the majority of their content is for paid subscriptions only.”

She asserted that the most surprising thing, coming from an editorial background, were the images that got the most attention were different than she would have originally thought. “What gets likes and attention on a photo-based platform like Instagram is not at all like what gets attention in editorial,” Barhamand said. “The expensive, over-the-top photography won’t necessarily be liked as much as a snapshot that the assistant took at a fashion show. Social media attention is a lot more about the quick graphic imagery, that are high contrast or colourful.”

At photo agency Shutterstock, gifs, which are sequences of photos animated, are gaining more traction. Search on Shutterstock has grown 70 per cent for gifs over the last couple of years, Stueven said. “If you have one on your story, it draws you in to the story and is very shareable.”

Stueven, the former deputy photo chief at People, said that Shutterstock is also seeing an increase in search for cinemagraph, a combination of photo and video, where a single image is transposed with moving images around it.

Keeping pace with the rapid pace of change is a challenge, though Stueven and Barhamand say publishers can use the digital sphere to their advantage.

“They can pretty much put a story together from the time Taylor Swift put up a tweet, and an anchor photo,” Stueven said. “Celebrities speak to their fans directly through social media, you just have to be the first person to catch that.”

Curation of photos is different in 2015, Barhamand said. It’s faster and more important than ever. “You used to deal with 36 shots in a roll of film. Now, you might have 2,000 photos coming off a fashion show and it’s (up to) that editor to further curate those for their specific audience.” Barhamand suggested that curation of photos is expected to happen within five to 10 minutes at a live event, or almost instantaneously.

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