Time Unpacks the Social Strategy Behind New FIRSTS Project

Unveiled this month, the project leverages iPhones in order to produce cover photos.


Time FirstsTime recently rolled out FIRSTS, an impressive multimedia project highlighting 46 women who’ve broken barriers across various fields. The project includes an interactive site, short films, candid interviews, portraits, a social media campaign and, later this month, a hardcover book, featuring female athletes, scientists, lawmakers, entertainers and entrepreneurs who have led their fields and broken ceilings.

The issue features 12 split-run covers, each highlighting a member of FIRSTS, including Hillary Clinton, Mo’ne Davis, Ellen DeGeneres, Ava DuVernay, Sylvia Earle and Selena Gomez, among others. For the cover photography, Time commissioned Brazilian photographer Luisa Dörr, whose work is best known on Instagram (@luisadorr). Dörr took portraits of each of the 46 woman with her iPhone, including the cover images.

Time’s Director of Photography and Visual Enterprise, Kira Pollack, was not only the brains behind the project, but she hand selected many details surrounding the project, including Dörr.

“I discovered Luisa on Instagram,” Pollack tells us. “Her feed focused on photographs of women and girls, all photographed in magical landscapes. The fact that she made her work on the iPhone came second to the fact that her work really inspired me. She was the perfect person to execute the vision. I wanted the pictures to be as real as possible, without lighting or high production. The women we photographed are all so extraordinary, and I wanted the pictures to be accessible.”

FIRSTS, which is presented by Bai (the project’s sole sponsor), is similar to many mulitmedia projects introduced in 2017, in that it is intended to be “mobile first.” This is usually just code for “we’re going to have a hell of a social strategy behind this thing.” FIRSTS does.

“We saw this as a mobile-first project, and could have a great life on Instagram, Instagram Stories and Facebook,” says Pollack. “By assigning the photographer Luisa Dörr, her work is perfectly suited to be viewed on mobile. She also has a big audience on Instagram, so we knew that we could launch a lot of that material on Time’s Instagram feed to our 4.4 million followers. We created the hashtag #SHEISTHEFIRST and launched a call out several weeks before the project across many Time Inc. titles, including In Style and Real Simple. The hashtag was to inspire conversation and for our audience to share their stories about being a first or knowing a first.”

As far as deciding which women should be featured as FIRSTS, Pollack had a direct hand in that as well. Time understandably wanted the list to be as diverse as possible, so Pollack and others searched across all different fields and among women of all different ages.

“It was important to us that the list could be aspirational, that young women could see a role model, whether it was in science, or politics, or entertainment or sports,” says Pollack. “The list evolved over the course of the year, and our goal was for it to be as comprehensive as possible. There are so many more stories to tell. The list could keep on expanding.”

The list eventually became what it is now, and what will soon be featured in the brand’s upcoming book of the same title, but they eventually settled on women who were pioneers in a broad range of fields after having conversations with women in politics, women in science and women in Hollywood.




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