Last week we posted ‘The benefits of in-house Creative Content – why picture researchers need designers‘. The post looked at the advantages from a picture research point of view of working in the same studio as our designers. Amy, one of our Design Managers, gives her response on why our set-up is beneficial to our design team too.

It was really interesting to hear the Creative Content team’s take on our working relationship. At emc we’ve been doing photo-research and artwork commissioning for projects for as long as I can remember, and it’s never occurred to me how lucky we are to have that in-house expertise.

I wanted to respond with our thoughts from the design team’s perspective, because it helps to build a complete picture of how we work together, and why it’s so beneficial.

I can’t stress how great it is to work with the in-house content team. It gives us an extra level of flexibility to really push the design for a page. So if we have something specific in mind, we have more opportunity to collaborate with the content team to unite the images with our vision.

That’s not to say we can’t do that with out-of-house research teams too. Most of our clients appreciate that the designer really needs to be involved in, or present at photo-selection, but having them in the building to go and speak to instantly is a real bonus.

We have the opportunity to give hands-on feedback as to which images are the priority; which are going to be the most awkward for fit and need a bit of extra time, and we get to point out anything we feel is particularly interesting or inspiring prior to photo-selection. If no-one involved has a strong feeling about the photo choice for that brief, we normally get our way! Then we’re already halfway there in terms of designing the page, because we’ve pictured how it will look and chosen the perfect image before we even start.

It’s great to be able to know instantly if a photo can be added to give a page a ‘lift’; being in control of the budget means this process is much quicker.

This takes me back to efficiency and communication, but I’ve also noticed that an image brief invariably evolves over the course of a project. If the design team and picture research isn’t under one roof, it can be easy for changes to slip through when they have to be emailed back and forth, or passed via proof notes etc. Then when the hires images arrive, there can be discrepancies. When the in-house CC team are doing the picture research, we’ve had instant access to the brief and kept it completely up-to-date, and they’ve instant access to the pages, so mistakes rarely happen.

One other thing I’d add is that (whether we’re involved in the picture research for every project or not) having this expertise in-house has been a real eye-opener for us as designers. We have a unique insight into how skilled a picture researcher needs to be, just how much knowledge they have, and the tricks they have up their sleeves! We’ve also got an extra level of understanding about the challenging world of licensing images for ELT, we really do feel very lucky to be working with such a talented (and lovely) bunch of people!

We hope this post and our previous post has given you some insights into the production processes we use in-house when working with images in ELT materials development. In our concluding post from our mini series, investigating the role of images in ELT, we will be interviewing Ceri Jones. Ceri is an ELT materials author who has some interesting thoughts on maximising the image in ELT materials.