This Old House truly does it all in the home renovation world with two TV shows, a print magazine, podcasts, a full array of social media, and tons of digital content. Their first TV show, This Old House, has aired for 42 seasons on PBS. The show features old, and sometimes dilapidated, houses that the team brings back to life alongside the homeowners.
Meg Reinhardt, the Photography Director for This Old House, oversees all still photography for the entire brand. As the sole member of the photo department, she is responsible for producing every shoot. Meg works with teams across the company to ensure visuals stay on-brand, and are both cohesive and consistent.
Most of the photography for This Old House comes from their construction projects – Idea Houses and Project Houses. Idea Houses are built from the ground up and showcase the newest technology and trends. Project Houses are old homes that the crew brings back to their former glory shown on the This Old House TV show.
Meg has her hands full producing “before”, “during” and “after” photoshoots for each home renovation and home building project.
“We do progress shoots of our Idea Houses as well as reveal shoots. With the TV houses, we do a big shoot where we document the entire house as it is. Then we do some progress shoots of our talent working on the house, what’s changing and how it’s evolving. Lastly, we do a final reveal shoot of what it looks like when it’s done,” says Meg.
With 42 – and counting – seasons of This Old House, there are a ton of photos that come out of these shoots. The team uses photos for everything surrounding the brand – the website, print magazine and social media, and externally on partner websites and streaming platforms.
Before Canto, the team accessed their photo archive using file cabinets filled to the brim with disks. This system for photo storage and organization needed a serious overhaul and flip to the digital age.
“The photography system was a disaster. It was just file cabinets filled with disks. Each disk might have three images on it, or it might have 3,000 images on it,” says Meg.
This storage system wasn’t ideal for Meg, who is responsible for fulfilling internal and external asset requests. Sifting through thousands of disks to find a few specific photos was a time-consuming and labor-intensive task. Additionally, it meant that a small number of images were repeatedly used instead of fresh content.
“I work with the art department, magazine, marketing teams and digital team. If anyone needs something, they reach out to me. I’m constantly meeting with all the other departments to meet their requests,” says Meg.
She also has to find photos for external partners, like sponsors and streaming networks, to use for their own digital activities.
“Oftentimes streaming networks, like Peacock, Samsung and Roku need pictures, so I have to search through pictures and send them off,” says Meg.
When Meg decided to turn to digital asset management, she wanted to make sure she chose the best option for This Old House. She created a detailed spreadsheet that included 18 solutions, and eventually narrowed it down to six.
“My spreadsheet had different questions, like what kind of file types does it take, does it do facial recognition, is it online based and how do you upload. Then I tried all the software, and worked with the teams to learn more about it. It just came down liking Canto the best,” says Meg.
Meg chose Canto for its robust features and appealing price point.
“I really think it’s the best one out there considering the price point and what you can do with the features,” says Meg.
Now they use Canto as a historical archive for their 42 seasons of This Old House, 19 seasons of Ask This Old House and 140 issues of This Old House magazine. They store 250,000 assets in Canto, and that number will continue to grow as they take on additional fixer uppers, build new Idea Houses and grow the brand.
Meg relies on a folder tree to organize their media library. Since files can live in multiple places in Canto without being duplicated, she adds content to every relevant Album.
“It’s really great that files can live in multiple Albums. We might retouch photos of a whole house to run in a magazine print story, but I also want those final retouched pictures to live within that season’s Album, so that whichever Album we go to, the pictures are there,” says Meg.
Outside of the folder structure, she also adds metadata, like keywords and tags. These pieces of information help users find exactly what they need within seconds.
“All of the PDFs of our magazines are in Canto. Because it’s keyworded, the editors can easily search through the magazine archives,” says Meg.
If Meg needs kitchen photography from multiple homes, the global search function enables her to find these images in just a few clicks. The facial recognition feature also comes in handy when searching for photos of specific people, such as their current and past experts.
“I use the search for tons of stuff, especially if I need talent imagery. Like if I needed Kevin O’Connor with a hammer, I use the search terms and I can find the image quickly. The facial recognition is also amazing,” says Meg.
Meg created a Portal outside of their main library that includes important brand assets and recent project photos. She shares this Portal with the marketing team so they always have updated branding and current photos on hand.
“I have a Portal for marketing that includes our main company logos, then we have our current and previous season’s images of This Old House and Ask This Old House. It has great selections from each season to show what we’re working on,” says Meg.
It’s crucial that various departments across the brand have access to the Portal. This decreases asset requests for Meg and allows teams to self serve any photos or logos they need.
“If anyone from PR or marketing needs photography, Canto is an easy place for them to access it. The images are approved and they know they’re allowed to share them,” says Meg.
External workflows with Uploads Links and Share Links
Upload Links make external photographer workflow a breeze. Each photographer has their own link, so they simply upload directly to Canto. After the upload Meg is alerted, then she adds metadata and sorts it to its final album(s).
“All the photography from the shoot we had last weekend is in Canto, sorted and available. The shoot ended Sunday at 7pm and everything was ready Monday afternoon. The system is efficient and works seamlessly,” says Meg.
With Canto, external asset requests are fulfilled in minutes. Share Links allow Meg to select the requested images, create a link and send them off to the partner.
“I got a call from DIY Network and they asked me to provide several pictures they could share to promote season 36. I looked up season 36 in Canto, picked my top images then sent them in a Share Link,” says Meg.
If the partner needs additional images, Meg can add files to the existing set and it will automatically update in the Share Link.
“I love that I can add to existing Share Links. For the DIY Network request, I had initially shared three images, but they needed more. I just updated the Share Link and asked them to go back to the same link,” says Meg.
Since This Old House has their archive safely stored and organized in Canto, they’re empowered to quickly access and share photos without lost time.
“I’m just more efficient. The photography is all there and I know where it lives. If someone else came in, they could figure out Canto because the system is really easy to understand,” says Meg.
Consistency is important for This Old House to continue forming their brand identity, and Meg is pleased with the effect that using Canto is having on the brand’s photography.
“Everything is starting to have a look. So that’s my goal going forward, to continually improve that and keep everything streamlined to our brand identity,” says Meg.
Gone are the days of rummaging through drawers full of disks. Canto has helped Meg not only completely overhaul the photography archive, but also fulfill the duties of her role.
“I don’t think I could have done my job over the last year and delivered what was needed without Canto,” says Meg.