Success story

Passion City Church




Atlanta, GA

Passion City Church unlocks the power of their photo assets with Canto

From its start in 1995, the Passion movement has had a singular mission—calling students from campuses across the nation and around the world to live for what matters most. What began as a gathering solely for 18-25 year-olds has today become a global movement made up of events hosted in premier stadiums, local churches in Atlanta and Washington D.C., a record label, a publishing house, and more. With its dedication to reaching people with the Good News of Jesus, Passion remains an innovator when it comes to using digital media to reach a broader audience.

To learn about how Passion, a Canto customer, uses digital asset management to support its success, we sat down with Jacob Watson. Jacob heads up Passion’s photography team and manages its creative volunteers.

The goal

Consolidate and organize photo assets gathered from conferences to make internal teams more efficient.

The result

Passion uses Canto to save hundreds of hours annually in event post-production, enabling them to drastically improve their content library, drive in-person engagement, and increase online reach.

Goal: Create a Better Way to Manage Digital Content

Passion’s system for managing content evolved haphazardly over the last two decades. Historically, the team used physical servers and drives, Dropbox, and other cloud-based apps to store content. By the time Jacob took over handling Passion’s digital content, its file storage system was at a breaking point.

“Any time you wanted to find something stored locally, you had to log on to this hard-to-use user interface, and it took forever for anything to load,” Jacob recalls. Plus, his creative teams would upload content into siloed folder structures without any metadata, limiting how they could store and share their files.

“Nothing worked automatically,” Jacob said. “Once photos came in, we’d have to manually move them to two or three places. Plus, going through and tagging images so people could find them took up a lot of our time.”

Event content management was also a significant pain point for Passion. As Jacob explained, “The frustration was two-fold. Our photographers were putting a lot of effort into capturing our events and delivering assets and then wouldn’t see them get used by our communications team. Our communications team was given a system that made searching impossible, especially on a tight timeline, for the pieces they needed to deliver. To sum it up, we noticed a short shelf life on many of the assets we were creating because, at the end of the day, people did not realize what all we had.”

With all the challenges, Jacob knew there had to be a better way for his team to engage effectively with their global audience.

People gathered at an event at Passion City Church.

Enter Canto: An AI-Enabled Solution for Organizing Assets

Jacob began evaluating various digital asset management (DAM) platforms for Passion to solve for his team’s challenges. He searched carefully for the right solution, knowing it would be a long-term commitment. Jacob needed the new system to have:

  • Built-in ease of use
  • Flexible user permissions
  • Advanced search functionality
  • Intuitive upload and share features

Canto checked all the boxes and stood out thanks to its advanced metadata features and powerful AI recognition technology. “What set Canto apart at the beginning was the AI and facial recognition,” Jacob says. “That alone was going to save a lot of our time. We also liked Canto’s Portals – the customization options were especially appealing.”

A new, more accessible content library to the rescue

Once Canto was in place, Passion’s photography team got to work on the migration process. Transferring content from Dropbox was relatively straightforward — with Canto’s native integration, the files synced right over. The more challenging task was migrating content from local hard drives.

“Canto Connect was really useful for our local file migration,” Jacob recalls. “And the Canto implementation team was great to work with during the entire migration process. They helped us explore a lot of creative solutions so we could move our content quickly. They were terrific.”

After consolidating Passion’s assets into a single library, Jacob used Canto as a catalyst to reimagine his team’s organizational structure. He saw immediate results after breaking up their silos and setting up a more efficient way of working, freeing them from outdated habits and technical limitations.

“When we disrupted our siloed working model by trusting our team and giving everyone access to everything, people got excited about using Canto. It was nice to have more visibility into what other teams were doing,” he explained.

A screenshot of the Canto media library of Passion City Church.

Recognizing volunteers and resurfacing archives with Canto’s AI

As part of setting up an improved foundation, Jacob developed an organizational structure in Canto using keywords and Smart Tags. His goal was to create an accessible and easy-to-navigate asset library. “We learned that a mixture of browsable but also searchable makes for a user-friendly database,” he says. “Instead of forcing people to do it one way, we realized that we have to make it accessible no matter how you’re coming at it. Every way should lead to the same thing.”

With new processes in place, Canto’s facial recognition and AI tagging proved invaluable for the team. Archived assets the team hadn’t seen in years started to pop up in searches using auto-assigned tags associated with people, places, and objects.

The newfound automation made it easy for Jacob’s team to show their volunteers that they cared. As Jacob explained, “We hold an annual event to encourage and inspire our volunteers. Canto made it easy for me to find all their photos for the event and highlight the times they supported us. I know it meant a lot for them for us to be able to do that.”
A screenshot showing one of the Canto portals of Passion City Church.

A game changer for Passion’s live events

Once Passion resumed live events following the COVID-19 pandemic, Jacob’s team quickly realized what a difference Canto made. His photographers used Canto’s upload links feature to successfully organize and distribute their event content in real-time, which had never happened before.

“It’s a beautiful system where we always get high-quality, fully-tagged professional photos ten minutes after a moment happens. It changed the game.”

As another benefit, Jacob’s team leveraged Canto Portals to build a customized microsite for their social media teams and event guests. Instead of fulfilling each PR request manually, external users could access approved images in a one-stop-shop location, saving Passion’s event staff a ton of time.

“We walked away from that first conference and everything was fully searchable, which was a huge deal for us,” says Jacob. “If you take sixteen photographers and they each give you a thousand photos from the event, that’s sixteen thousand photos. That would have taken hundreds of hours to go through if we didn’t have Canto.”

A huge crowd filling an arena at a Passion City Church event.

Jacob Watson, Photography Team Lead at Passion City Church

It's been a huge win for us to have a system where everything is in the same place and is easily accessible. Canto has given us a way to un-silo our teams and allow a longer shelf life for our assets. It gives our staff a lot more creativity and space because fewer hours are devoted to hunting for things.

Jacob WatsonPhotography Team Lead

Results: Canto Creates a New, More Sustainable Status Quo

With Canto’s powerful DAM features, the team at Passion shook up their status quo by completely reimagining their asset management workflows. Since implementing the solution, they’ve already:

  • Saved hundreds of hours at events
  • Extended the life of their assets by making them easier to find
  • Increased their reach on social media
  • Leveled up their in-person event experience (overall marketing efforts including Canto led to 30k+ attendees in sold-out arenas in early 2023)
  • Protected from loss of institutional knowledge

Become more collaborative and inspired with photo usage in Youtube videos and Instagram carousels, which are now much easier to create compared to previous methods.

“Everything is in one place, and there’s no confusion on that,” Jacob points out. “It’s been a huge win for us. Before, only a handful of people knew where everything was — and that was because they put it there. But now, it’s easy for anyone on their first day on the job to look for what they need.”

Now that Canto has created an easy-to-use, single source of truth for Passion’s assets, its team is well-positioned to move forward and make the most of its digital content for years to come.