( read 13 min)

The Essence of Images for the UK’s Largest Organisation Dedicated to Dogs

By Alex Kronenberg on February 24, 2017
^ Winner of Dog Photographer of the Year 2015, Anastasia Vetkovskaya / The Kennel Club ©

What do images mean for the UK's largest organisation dedicated to dogs?

“Dog images represent our brand and what we are about, so it’s important to have various images that visually show this, as well as engaging images to communicate to our customers. Having a DAM system is crucial to managing so many dog images in today’s fast moving digital world.”

In the latest of our Behind the DAM series with Heidi Hudson, Digital Asset Manager at The Kennel Club, we learn how thousands of images are handled during their popular live events and the hugely successful Dog Photographer of the Year competition. Read the Kennel Club's story and learn what image management means for a brand, straight from the hands of a Digital Asset Management expert

How would you describe The Kennel Club?

The Kennel Club is the oldest organisation that started registering pedigree dogs. It is now the UK’s largest organisation dedicated to protecting and promoting the health and welfare of all dogs. Pretty much anything to do about dogs in the UK can be answered through The Kennel Club. It's a great place to work if you love dogs as we often have dogs in the office and we talk about dogs all the time!

"Today, images are a big part of any business as images help sell a brand or service in today’s demanding visual world.  If you’re not using the rights images for your brand or message you may not be reaching the right customer or getting out the right communication for your business."

What is your role in the organisation?

My title is Digital Asset Manager within the picture library, but the role is quite encompassing. I manage and curate all the photography and picture archives for The Kennel Club, which includes Crufts and the Dog Photographer of the Year competition. We have dog images in our archives, in both digital format and physical archives, and I help to keep the flow of images going where we need them internally and externally. We have what we call internal ‘clients’, which refers to Kennel Club staff, so marketing, press and canine activities departments, etc. External clients are either people that may want to purchase or license an image, or media organisations that require licensing an image for TV, film or editorial use.

Discover Dogs 2016, Yulia Titovets / The Kennel Club ©
Discover Dogs 2016, Yulia Titovets / The Kennel Club ©

What is Crufts?

The Kennel Club owns and manages Crufts www.crufts.org.uk, which is the largest dog show in the world and it’s our largest event of the year! Almost 25,000 dogs participate from over 100 different countries from around the world, so it’s quite an international show with people and dogs from almost every corner of the world. Crufts is largely about dog showing, but there are other dog competitions happening; dog agility, Scruffts championship for cross breeds and many other dog related activities. Crufts is for anyone that’s interested in dogs. It’s a huge event that the entire Kennel Club organisation is involved in and most of the staff work the show. Crufts is quite a big job in terms of my work, because it’s all about overseeing a large amount of photos that are coming in live during the show as well as reviewing photos post show.

"we’re probably getting into our system anywhere from 40,000-50,000 images annually. We have old images and new images being uploaded all the time."

What is the Dog Photographer of the Year?  

The Dog Photographer of the Year is another big part of my job. It’s an annual competition that is the largest dog photographer-specific competition in the world. It’s open to both amateur and professional photographers so any skilled photographer can enter. Last year we had photographers from over 90 different countries enter and well over 13,000 different entries in total. We see all types of dog images from pedigree as well as cross breed images - we have ten different categories that appeal to different dog photographers.

It’s a free competition and our objective is to be promoting positive dog images out in the world, because of course once the winning images are released to the media they’re circulated worldwide. We had an estimated 140,000,000 views online last year, so millions of people are viewing these award-winning dog images around the world. It’s a great way for us to promote positive dog ownership and the joys of having a dog in your life. It’s now such a big annual competition that I’m responsible for overseeing and I can credit the success of the competition because we have a DAM system to help us manage it. If we didn’t have a DAM system then our competition would not be what it is today.

Crufts 2016, Yulia Titovets / The Kennel Club ©
Crufts 2016, Yulia Titovets / The Kennel Club ©

In what ways does DAM enable the Dog Photographer of the Year?

Before we had a DAM system it was very old school in how images were being processed for the competition. Basically, it was a matter of entrants emailing in images one by one and then we would save the images to our drive and copy and paste entry details to a separate excel spread sheet. Understandably, physically managing a few hundred images that were coming in was timing consuming. Now we’re in the thousands and it’s only possible because we have a DAM system now that’s automated.

We now have a fantastic system in place and I believe it’s a very unique way of working, because a lot of people working in DAM have never thought to use it for a large photography competition. Basically, people register and enter our system and they’re uploading their images directly into the backend of our DAM. The backend automatically sorts and organises photos per category so, for example, people entering photos of ‘dogs at play’, we can then look at all those entries and relevant metadata is going in at the background as people are registering their details. So key information such as name, address, where they’re from, age group, marketing opt in and out, etc. is going into the background. We are then able to run any type of data reports at a later stage. 

Now that we have our system in place, our DAM is doing all the work in the background so I can then focus on other key aspects of my job. It’s helping me to sort images by file sizes and whether they have camera IPTC information included or not. It does so much for me in the background that I can run different types of reports whenever I want to.

Andy Biggar / The Kennel Club ©
Andy Biggar / The Kennel Club ©

How many images do you archive each year?

I would say we’re probably getting into our system anywhere from 40,000-50,000 images uploaded annually. We have old dog images and new dog images being digitised and uploaded all the time. For example, recently there was a big field trials event for field trial dogs so we had a photographer who went and photographed that event. Those edited photos then get uploaded into our system by the photographer, I then add metadata on the images and make the images available to our marketing and press staff for promotion about the event. We also utilise a lot of different dog images for social media as we have a very active social media following on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and then there’s Kennel Club newsletters, e-newsletters and communications that go directly to specific groups in the dog world. There might be some dog people that may only be interested specifically in events like the field trials and agility.

"It’s about protecting the photographers you work with and about protecting your own commissioned content. After all, content is your brand"

Do you get a lot of requests from external companies to use your images?

Yes we do. The Kennel Club Picture Library receives many image requests from everything such as personal prints and licensing to 3rd parties such as for magazine articles or TV and film. We have a great selection of dog images everything from historical to modern day contemporary dog images. We also receive on occasion academic or dog charity requests for images. 

We work with some of the UKs best dog photographers, so that’s another reason why having a DAM system is really important. A lot of the dog photographers we work with, we don’t own their content, we simply have a license to use it, and we may only have a license to use it in a particular way within our business. We need to insure that relevant metadata and rights management information stays intact with their images in our system, so a staff member does not use an image out of context or give an image away when we may not have the rights to do so. 

It’s really important to have a DAM system with images. It’s about protecting the photographers you work with and about protecting your own commissioned content. After all, content is your brand.

Today, images are a big part of any business as images help sell a brand or service in today’s demanding visual world. If you’re not using the right images for your brand or message you may not be reaching the right customer or getting out the right communication for your business.

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