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Magnum Photos partners with Tagasauris to tag millions of photos with Mechanical Turk

Mechanical Turk provides cost-effective, high quality labor combined with a powerful interface that allows for custom solutions. This is an invaluable service that gives us the ability to quickly pivot as needed. As a result, we are able to provide a robust service to our clients and to quickly react to their ever-changing and evolving needs.
Sharon Middendorf
Director of Operations, Tagasauris

Keeping a large and growing photo archive optimized for search

Magnum Photos is a photographic cooperative that provides photographs, stories, and other media to press, publishers, advertising, television, galleries, and museums. The Magnum Photos library contains approximately one million photographs in print and transparency as well as more than 500,000 images available online, and is a living archive updated daily with new work from across the globe.

Historically, Magnum's research staff has helped its clients find images by searching against fine-grained keyword metadata. Over time however, the volume of new images to be tagged had grown into a backlog of untagged media.

At the same time, Magnum's clients could search the archive using Magnum's website directly. Without the expert knowledge of Magnum's research staff or high-quality metadata to optimize search results, clients had more difficulty finding the images they needed.

Accurately annotating media can be both labor-intensive and expensive. Magnum's archive was growing at an increasing rate, making scale a pressing issue. Magnum needed a cost-effective way to improve search results, to help researchers and clients find the right media assets within the archive.

Put the global workforce on Mechanical Turk to work tagging media

To solve this problem, Magnum turned to Tagasauris, a solution provider that specializes in tagging solutions built on Amazon Mechanical Turk. Tagasauris developed a platform that integrated directly with Magnum's media management system to transform large volumes of media data into Human Intelligence Tasks (HITs) that Mechanical Turk Workers could perform.

By handling tasks in parallel, the global workforce on Mechanical Turk was able to first clear a large backlog of untagged media assets and then respond to new tagging HITs on demand. Tagasauris helped Magnum create custom Worker qualifications and employed proprietary Worker management systems to identify the best qualified, most productive Workers for the tasks. Tagasauris estimates the resulting process was 10 times more cost efficient.

Tagasauris reports Mechanical Turk delivered:
Quick Solution
  • Clearing the backlog with on-demand staffing for new tasks
Lower Cost
  • Ten times more cost-efficient

Learn more about Tagasauris,, or Magnum Photos, by visiting their websites.