Story by Samantha Woodward
Completing 316 photo shoots in just three months is quite an undertaking for any photographer, but when staff at Brett Gilmour Photography was approached to do just that, they jumped at the opportunity to work hard and get stuck in.
Carma Developers, Western Canada’s largest land developer initially met with Brett Gilmour in 2006 to discuss their plans for a massive marketing campaign.
“In our very first meeting, the first question that they asked me was ‘Before we go any further, can you commit your entire summer to us?’” said Brett. “I was totally surprised by that and after a pause I basically said ‘Yeah, I can do that.’
“It was the largest scale job that I had ever been offered.”
Carma Developers has been operating for over 50 years across Canada and the USA in places such as Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver Island and Denver.
We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat
When accepting the job for Carma, Brett did not realize how big the job would turn out to be. After their initial meeting Brett knew that he needed to scale up his operation in order to cope with a job so large. He was gonna needed a bigger boat!
“We initially thought that the data management system we had in place was great, it’s one that many photographers use,” said Brett. “But the DAM system we had ran out of space and the sheer volume of images, combined with the processing of those images, overwhelmed it. We had to create a system that would work to handle the incredible volume of images we were generating.”
The system that Brett developed helped to streamline the image management and processing and aided his staff in tracking the images every step of the way.
“First of all we broke the job into phases: by type of shoot – such as landscape, architecture, lifestyle – then by timing – Spring, Summer, daytime, sunrise, sunset – and then by location,” said Brett. “That in itself took a lot of planning, and of course we had to budget for weather days and days off for my staff.
“On many of the days my assistants would get burned out so I would send them home after eight hours and bring in a second shift so that I could photograph the light from dawn until dusk.” Gilmour Photography had 2 crews working 7 days a week to complete the massive photography project.
The work did not stop once the images had been shot.
“After shooting we then had to process 15, 000 images,” said Brett. “I hired two full-time digital imaging technicians and we broke down the tasks by workstation.”
Brett explained in detail the stations that were set up and described how staff at Brett Gilmour Photography managed to cope with such a massive workload: “The assistant at the first workstation ingested the images, input metadata and photo SEO, organized the images chronologically and geographically, reviewed all the images and did the first edit.
“At the next workstation we did the second edit and created printed contact sheets for the client to review, as well as producing an online galleries for them.
“The third workstation included the final processing of the images and turning the client’s selections into master files.”
Of the 15, 000 images that were shot by Brett that summer, all remain in archives and Carma Developers are still ordering master files from that shoot two years later.
“Without a detailed system, it is possible to lose track of the images very easily, they can fall through the cracks,” said Brett. “As soon as we downloaded the images into the system a back-up was made, then a working copy was created, then after the images were processed a third digital back-up was made, followed by a back-up of the master images and, finally, all of the images were burned to DVDs.”
Because of his intensive back-up system Brett, was able to keep track of images, as well as make sure that he had versions of the images saved over different media incase one system failed.
“The Carma Developers job totally changed the business for me,” said Brett. “It allowed me to get a lot closer to the studio I have always wanted.
“From the initial call from a client to the time they book me for a job, and from the time we shoot right through to archiving, every step of the process has been refined.”
Because of outstanding work, Brett Gilmour Photography was hired to shoot for Carma Developers again in 2007, 2008 and 2009. Each year was another huge undertaking for the commercial photography company.
Brett Gilmour Photography continues to refine it’s hardware and operations practices. Brett believes it’s important to continously strive for improvement, a value that is very important to Brett in his business.
“We are currently having a custom-made archive system built that runs at a speed of one gigabyte per second. We had to special order the parts to create such a cutting-edge system. It will give us the ability to speed up our turn-around times for clients by working more collaboratively in our office. ” said Brett.