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This is Part II in the process of getting the Daily Kos Photo Cooperative cruising. For those who missed the announcement, check out Meteor Blades’s diary last Sunday about the reasons for and concept behind the Co-op. I was asked to midwife this baby, and in a moment of giddy anticipation and blissful denial of the work involved in facilitating such an undertaking, accepted.

Daily Kos Photo Cooperative

There are obviously a few things that need to be figured out to set up a community resource like this, and a lot of people asked all kinds of great questions and offered their ideas and support. I’ve read through all of them and I’ve also done a bunch of research on the different ways in which we can set this up and how it will work best. Kimoconnor, with whom I have worked on offline photo editing projects before, and it really is that important, administrator of the thriving DK Photography group, have graciously agreed to be co-administrators (along with Meteor Blades) of the soon-to-be-launched host site. For those of you who want to be involved in this, there will be lots of ways to contribute, not only with your photography, but your editing, organizing, tagging and community building talents.    

In this diary I’d like to share with you where we’re at, explain some of the things that may have been confusing, and also get everyone’s input on how to proceed.

The Basic Idea

From Meteor Blades’s diary:

The Daily Kos Photo Cooperative is an administratively initiated and facilitated archive where Kossacks can upload photos of interest and value at Daily Kos and other progressive blog sites.

What this means is that we’re setting up a site of original photos taken by Kossacks that can be accessed and used by other Kossacks and progressive bloggers elsewhere in the blogosphere to illustrate the points they’re trying to make without having to resort to images that aren’t in the public domain. Each photographer will upload photos into categorized folders on this host site, watermark them with a standard credit line reading © 2011, Photographer's Name, Daily Kos Photo Cooperative, and add keywords and descriptions.

Taken at Aschiana center for street children, Kabul

The Host site

Our host site had to be one of the 8 image hosting providers approved by Daily Kos. Otherwise nobody would be able to embed any of the uploaded photos into their diaries. After researching these potential host sites with an eye toward clean layout, user-friendly upload, a clear filing system, easy watermarking ability, and the best security features, came out the clear winner. Not only did it stand out in all the aforementioned criteria (it’s the only site that allows watermarking multiple photos at once, and trust me, you wouldn’t want it any other way), but we liked the fact that it’s an independent company, not owned by News Corps. As an added bonus, we can customize the site to use our own url and logo.

Note: This will be a separate new site that contributors will have to log on to and upload photos from their desktop, rather than just bouncing them over from existing photo sharing accounts.

How It Will Work

Once we get our Smugmug site up and running, any Kossack interested in contributing will send an email to our gmail address, which should include your Daily Kos user name as well as the name you’d like to have on your photos. This could be your real name or your dk username/pseudonym. In a reply email, you will get the login information for the site as well as user instructions, guidelines, and terms of use. I’m the one administering that email account for now, but the baton could be passed at some point. At least at first I’ll be creating your watermarks and uploading them into the site, which will keep everything streamlined and very user-friendly. In other words, by the time you upload your first photos you’ll be able to put your personal (plus Co-op) credits on them in just a few clicks. I’m expecting a pretty heavy workload for me at first, so some patience will be appreciated, but once everyone is set up with the login info and a watermark, things should mellow out and run pretty smoothly.


Generally speaking, we want this to be a community and self-moderated photo archive with as few set-in-stone rules as possible. The exception will be some of the obvious stuff like pornographic images and blatant troll photos. If there’s no watermark and you don’t leave your name anywhere else in the description so nobody knows whose photo it is, it’ll probably be deleted. A whole series of out of focus pics of someone’s family event will not survive. Obviously, there will be differing opinions on what constitutes a politically relevant photo, but the idea is to err on the side of inclusiveness and open-mindedness.

That said, we can avoid having this archive turn into another cluttered and meaningless cyber gallery and make it into a powerful and high quality tool for political activism if every contributor does some self-editing with the vision of the Co-op in mind.

As a general guideline I really like kimoconnor’s spontaneous summary uttered over a cold beer at a recent meeting:

Tell the story in a photo of why we believe what we do.

For a bit more specific guidance, here are some things I thought might be helpful for anyone contemplating which photos to share:

  • Think of your strongest photos that stand on their own to convey a message.
    (For example, if you have a whole series of shots of politician xyz or a photo essay about the streetcars of San Francisco, only upload your best one, two, or if they’re really awesome, a handful)
  • Look at the tags on Daily Kos and think about how your photo might enlighten the public about a specific issue.
  • Put yourself in the shoes of somebody writing a diary on topic xyz, needing just one photo to illustrate the topic. What might they be looking for?
  • Imagine you were invited to exhibit your photos in an art gallery, and you'd have limited wall space. What would you show?

Obviously, a lot of great photography isn’t always literal. Context is important, but it’s up to you to provide that context by adding the right keyword.

For example, this photo I took of Manarola/Cinqueterre may look like nothing but a tourist shot on its own, but if I add the keywords “eco village,” “eco density,” or “low carbon footprint” it all of a sudden becomes useful to writers who are working on those topics.

closeup of Manarola, one of the 5 villages of the Cinqueterre.

Also, a photo of a beautiful exotic bird may not seem politically or socially significant until we see the “endangered species” tag. Ditto with other nature shots. Obviously nature is very relevant in many of our political battles, and I personally look forward to marveling at the eye candy that is sure to grace the “National Parks” category. But let’s say there are already 50 shots of Old Faithful in there, I’d encourage folks whose portfolio is diverse to help out with some other, less populated categories instead.

I think you get the gist. I’m really confident that we’ll get the right kind of groove going, and that we can adjust and evolve the process as we go.

Terms of Use

We haven’t worked out the exact language, but the idea is that we want Kossack photographers to get exposure and credit for their original work and at the same time make it easier for progressive bloggers to use attributed and sanctioned photos in their writings. All rights remain with the photographer, but by uploading into the Cooperative the photographer agrees to license her/his photos for royalty-free use by Kossacks and other progressive bloggers. We think that by having an official and fully credited photo archive we can educate photographers and bloggers to become more responsible in the use and dissemination of intellectual property.

Next up... categories and keywords

The next step is going to be to come up with a category and keyword system that will make it as easy as possible for contributors to upload their work in the right place and for users to find what they’re looking for. With the main categories we’ll try to stick as closely as possible to the main browse tags on Daily Kos, like “Education, Congress, International, Environment, etc.” But what are going to be the subcategories and the folder names? In the next diary, which should be posted soon, we’ll open the floor to discuss categories and keywords, so stay tuned. If you’re well-versed on the subject and have some great ideas on how to subdivide the main Daily Kos browse tags from a photographic perspective, feel free to drop me a line at dkphotocoop at gmail dot com.

We’re not quite ready yet to launch, so all you talented photographers itching to contribute, please bear with us for just a while longer. I think it’s better to take the time to set it up right, so that by the time the Photo Co-op opens it’ll be smooth sailing and everyone can just focus on what’s important:

The art of making the world a better place.


PS: ht to navajo for putting the text on our logo!

Originally posted to Daily Kos Photo Cooperative on Tue Mar 01, 2011 at 05:00 PM PST.

Also republished by J Town and PacNW Kossacks.

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