Building Community using Images, an Interview with Alex de Carvalho of Scrapblog

The following is an exclusive interview with Alex de Carvalho, the Community Manager of Scrapblog.

I learned that pictures can really help tell a story, you’ll see that I use images in many of my posts from events, conferences, or interviews. The web brings a rich experience that helps us humans convey meaning, emotion and stories.

Even if your company isn’t an image based company (like Scrapblog) you can use photos to enhance your online communications.

I was impressed with the great photos that I was seeing out of the BlogHer conference this past week, as Alex (his personal blog), the Community Manager at Scrapblog had been publishing photos he poste on Flickr of their “photobooth”.

I wanted to know more, so he agreed to this interview:

Jeremiah: Alex, Scrapblog attended the recent BlogHer conference, which attracts a great deal of women bloggers, what’s this have to do with Scrapblog?

Alex: With Scrapblog, you take your media a step further. You may combine your photos and videos with text, stickers and backgrounds to create collages, slideshows or scrapbooks. We launced in April and so far about three-quarters of our users are female, many of whom are bloggers. So BlogHer was an ideal conference to get to know and connect with our user base.

Jeremiah: I was impressed and amazed to see all the great looking pictures on your Flickr account, what’s the story?

Alex: We partnered with BlogHer to run a sweepstakes: the lucky winner got a trip to the BlogHer Conference in Chicago. At the conference, we set up a photo-stand area at the exhibitor’s hall using backdrops designed by Veerle Pieters. We had ordered a bunch of props, boas, glasses, picture frames and hats, including the very popular flamingo hat. When people came to talk to us and to get their t-shirts, onesies, stickers and other swag, they would also pose for a fun photo. Cindy Li and Tara Hunt came up with the photo-stand idea and Carlos Garcia, Caleb Elston, Jordan Fulghum and I had a great time helping out!

Jeremiah:I know that Scrapblog relies on images and pictures to build its unique product, but how did you use images in the context of the event?

Alex: In addition to pictures of the speakers, conference attendees, Chicago and so on, we though it would be fun to have a photo stand to take original, colorful and unique pictures. Within Scrapblog, you may use a variety of themes, backdrops, props, stickers, patterns and such. The photo area was a fun way to show what these backdrops and props would look like in “real life”. We think it was a great match for the event: for most attendees, BlogHer is also an opportunity to meet other bloggers in a fun setting and the photo-area turned out to be a great way to capture some of those memories.

Jeremiah: What will you be doing with these images?

Alex: We took hundreds of picures and right after the conference created a series of scrapblogs with the images. We also posted them to Flickr in this set and also in this year’s Blogher07 Chicago group. The images are also all tagged blogher07 and sbboothblogher07 so they may be found easily within Flickr and within the Scrapblog Builder, using the Flickr API.

Jeremiah: Give me some practical tips for other Community Managers to use those digital cameras at events.

Alex: I think I can learn from you, judging from your Flickr photostream! I think it boils down to telling a story with your pictures, taking interesting photos and being generous by taking as many pictures as you can. Let people know where you will publish your pictures so they may find them later. When uploading to Flickr, describe what each picture is about in the title, tags or description. Hyperlink them in the description field and add them to relevant groups. Encourage others to take pictures and tell the story from their point of view. Then, find these pictures and comment when appropriate. These basic tasks make a significant difference over time.
I upgraded to a DSLR camera this year and focused on learning how to shoot higher quality pictures than previously with a point-and-shoot. I also process them in Adobe Lightroom and/or Photoshop prior to publishing, to adjust the white balance, contrast and saturation. It takes a bit longer, but I think the jump up in quality is worth it.

Jeremiah: What’s next for Scrapblog? What’s in the works?

Alex: We’re very happy with the Scrapblog Builder and are regularly updating it with new photo editing features and new themes from leading designers. We are now working out the new functionalities for our site which will make it easier for you to find, visualize and interact with scrapblogs and with the Scrapblog community. We’ve got lots of great stuff planned!

Be sure to check out my other text based interviews, or watch the Web Strategy Video Show.


Alex de Carvalho, photo by Josh Hallett