Meet the Unsplash team: Annie Spratt

‘Meet the Unsplash team’ is a series of interviews with members of the Unsplash team, giving an insight into the people behind the platform.

Aug 20, 2018 · 6 min read
Sidenote: I hate all photos of me. Ever.

❓Who are you and what’s your role at Unsplash?
I’m Annie and I’m part of the Community and Editorial team 👋

🏡 Where do you live?
I live in the beautiful New Forest, England 🇬🇧 We’ve a lot of these and these roaming freely around the countryside so I’m never short of things to take photos of.

Where do you work?
I work remotely from my home in the New Forest, UK.

My role at Unsplash suits my personal life as I can work hours to fit in with my family.

I don’t find remote working lonely as I’m usually online chatting with the team or the community every day.

👫 When did you join the team?
I joined the team at the start of 2016.

I’d been contributing photos to Unsplash for a couple of years before that and spotted Mikael Cho had tweeted looking for someone to manage the Unsplash social accounts so I got on it like bonnet and applied right away.

It was super interesting to see Unsplash ‘from both sides’, contributor and part of the team. I remember being blown away at just how hard everyone is working behind the scenes and thinking how if everyone knew just how much consideration and discussion goes into every part of Unsplash, they would really connect with and value it even more.

Hopefully our Medium articles and avid team tweets are helping people to get to know the whole team a little better and how passionate we all are about the community.

Yep, and I’m rambling 🙈, next question…

📷 What are your responsibilities / What does a regular day at Unsplash look like for you?

Usually I go through all the submitted photos daily, selecting some to feature on our homepage new feed and in keyword searches. When I first started in 2016 we saw around 400–500 coming in daily and now it’s around 1,500 a day. This Editorial selection takes up the biggest chunk of my working day.

It’s also the favourite part of my day — I get to see some amazingly diverse photography daily, it’s a beautiful thing!

I also cover the Support inbox, events scheduling and general community managing shizzle. I also work on special projects as and when needed.

👫 Who do you primarily work with within the team?
Day to day I work mostly with Andrew Neel and Stephanie Liverani, though our internal teams often overlap so I usually speak (I say ‘speak’ I mean ‘Slack’) most of the team every week.

Sometimes it’s work related, like checking in on something with Luke Chesser and other times it’s trolling Charles Deluvio and Kirill Zakharov over their fear of dolls…

❤️ What is your favourite thing you worked on at Unsplash?
The searchable state aka ‘sneaky search’.

Ok so it wasn’t an official thing initially. We used to give photos one of 3 states; flagged, approved and promoted. One day I found a ‘pleasantly surprising hack’ that enabled me to make a photo ‘searchable but not promoted’. An in-between ‘approved’ and ‘promoted’ state.

I mentioned this to the dev team whilst we were all on a team retreat, showing them the searchable hack. It was then built into the product to become a feature which has made a really positive difference to the visibility of lots of fellow contributors photos.

Here’s a really quick example of how adding the ‘searchable’ state helped the visibility of photos:

The year is 2016. Bob submits 10 good quality photos of the same bowl of popcorn, all slightly from different angles. Because all promoted photos appeared in the New feed we would not have promoted all 10 photos, because they would have dominated the feed. So one or two of the strongest photos from the set would be promoted, and the other 8 would be approved. Approved means they would be discoverable only from Bobs profile, not via search — only promoted photos were made searchable.

Fast forward and the year is 2018. Bob submits 10 good quality photos of the same bowl of popcorn, all slightly from different angles. We would likely feature a couple on our homepage feed of curated new photos, and the other 8 would be made ‘searchable’, meaning they would all be searchable and therefore visible to more people.

⚙️ What tools do you use?
- Slack for team and community communication
- Trello and Paper for organisation
- Dropbox for managing photos and files
- Lightroom for all things photo editing
- Medium for sharing our team articles
- Ommwriter for distraction free writing
- Newton to manage my emails — though it’s closing soon so if you have any good alternatives please do let me know!
- My iPhone timer. Stephanie Liverani put me onto the pomodoro technique and I find I am way more productive when I work to it. I pimped it to suit me but essentially I split my working day into ‘bursts’. I work for 20 minutes then take a 10 minute break throughout the day, and every 4 ‘sets’ I take 20 minutes break. It keeps me focused (because I am huge procrastinator).

🎧 What do you like to listen to while you work?
When I am having a creative lull and need a motivational pick-me-up I tend to turn to listening to podcasts as I work. A few of my regular favourites are:

  1. Me and Orla for all things Instagram + creativity
  2. Elizabeth Carins for relaxation
  3. Akimbo by Seth Godin, about our culture and how we can change it

When I am going through photo submissions I listen to stuff like Idles, High Contrast, James Blake, Gwenno, Juniore and A Tribe Called Quest.

In the Winter I tend to gravitate to the woodburner and binge listen to Netflix and Now TV boxsets as I work, favouring ones with a huge back catalogue of series. Last Winter I took on Grey’s Anatomy…

So yeah, if you have any boxset recommendations ahead of this Winter hit me up.

🥜 Favourite working snack?
Anything with peanut butter in or on it.
Porridge with a spoonful of peanut butter mixed in.
Peanut butter on toast.
Sneaky spoonful of peanut butter from the jar.
You get the idea…

🍹 What do you do when you aren’t working on Unsplash? Hobbies / past-times…
Spending time with my family and taking photos + travelling. This year I made an unofficial New Years resolution to learn all the technical side of photography that I don’t know. I enrolled on a few workshops and retreats that I knew would challenge and push me throughout 2018 and it’s just been the best year that I’ve had in a long time.

Photos from a Faroe Islands workshop in May — available on Unsplash

It’s super easy when you are a parent to put your own aspirations on hold and to put others first — but I’ve discovered this year the power of putting yourself first once in a while!

🕵️‍ Where can people find you / chat to you?
Slack @ annie-admin

Unsplash Blog

Behind the scenes building the open photography movement at Unsplash.


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Unsplash Blog

Behind the scenes building the open photography movement at Unsplash.

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