Category "Stock"

Trunk Archive – Ultra High End Stock

- - Stock

There’s always been this problem in stock photography that the best images remain with people who care very little about licensing them to you. Often if I wanted to get some great stock pictures I would call photographers directly and ask them to go into their files and pull the contact sheets and send them over. The problem with doing this is that it’s an enormous pain in the ass for them and if there’s a chance the pictures wouldn’t be used or someone might try to use them very small or the story would be killed then I’ve suddenly ruined my chances of pulling stock with that photographer the next time around.

When I heard about Trunk Archive (website here) last February and saw the list of photographers who’s work they represented I thought how great this will be for photo editors and art buyers to source and use high end imagery. I had the opportunity to talk with Matt Moneypenny the President and CEO of Trunk last week and here’s what we talked about.

Matt, tell me about the beginnings of Trunk Archive?

Trunk Archive was started in a kitchen in Copenhagen 3 years ago by 5 high end Danish art collectors. They were saying to each other “wouldn’t it be great if we found a way for fine artists to manage their licensing themselves?” Their idea was to build an archive and website that would allow fine art photographers the ability to post, manage and administer their own archive. It was a passion project for them and of course 3 years ago the economy was in a very different place. They ended up spending about a year and a half building their idea and it cost around 1.7 million to develop it, but they came to realize that the original business model was unsustainable. A friend introduced me to the Danes and they offered to turn the software and the business over to me to run as I saw fit, from NYC. It was too exciting an opportunity to pass up. I had been at the archive at Art + Commerce for several years, and before that I was an agent at ICM in Los Angeles and London.

What are the differences between Trunk Archive and Art + Commerce Archive?

Art + Commerce is tied to their assignment roster with a few notable exceptions. I always felt that this was a much bigger business. At Trunk Archive we can license the archives of any photographer from any agency. In fact we work very collaboratively and comfortably with all of the photographer assignment agencies.

That leads to my next question which is about dealing with high end photographers and subjects and how that leads to complexity in licensing because you have the photographer, publicist, model and agent all involved and it’s always just a big mess. How do you solve that and make it easier for the clients to do deals?

Yes, there are restrictions when working with art at this level, but everyone is also interested in the opportunities afforded by well-managed image licensing. Think of the artists who have most permeated the public consciousness. Warhol is my favorite example. When people begin to collect art, the first work that they often seek to acquire is a Warhol. I would say that’s because of the power of licensing. His work has been actively licensed and thus seen in a huge way. One way to brand build for these photographers is to make sure that their art is seen in Korea, Taiwan, South Africa and so on. It’s increases the perception that these are the important artists with incredible talent – who are at the forefront of the medium. Licensing does that.

There seems to be a real problem with advertisers using this type of imagery because many times you need approval from celebrities or models because the work is not model released. How do you address this?

It’s definitely an extra layer of work but it’s all about the relationships that you have with the people that represent the subjects in the pictures. Due to my years at ICM I know all of the PR and movie studios. I know what an agent’s concerns will be and what will be required to get a particular image approved. On the model side it’s about about having a relationship with the principals at the agencies and understanding that an agent needs to protect the brand and image of the model. We work to gain their trust, as we will generally be negotiating the fee for their model on their behalf. We also work closely with each photographer’s assignment agent as it’s important for us to know what existing contracts each photographer has in place.

So why don’t more A list photographers make their imagery available as stock?

For a long time there was this preciousness surrounding an artists archive. In addition, licensing existing work was a far more labor intensive process. Now you can upload and download high-res files in seconds. A big part of this process is making the artist comfortable with the people that are handling his or her archive. We hand negotiate every single transaction and always ask the artist about every license before agreeing to send any file to any client. We are very protective of our artists.

Why do you think there’s an opportunity here to make money on stock and certainly why in this economy?

I think that most stock agencies do not promote individual artists and their archives, something that we do quite well and with definitive results. No matter how great the work is it’s not going to sell itself – you need to get out there and bang the drum. We are aware of the importance of customer service – we do free research, we give free comps to clients that we know, we’re reachable at all hours of the day. Service has been a big part of our success. We have over 5,000 global clients and i think that it’s the level of service that we provide that keeps the list growing. I have a substantial budget for sales and marketing trips. We just spent 2 weeks in London, Paris, Warsaw, Moscow, Milan and Madrid. I am leaving in two weeks for Scandinavia and early next year we’ll travel to Delhi, Shanghai, Singapore and Sydney. In most markets around the world high-end licensing is still a more hand carried service. In Spain it’s guys on vespas with laser prints zipping around showing the new work to clients. That’s not uncommon in many markets around the world.

Now, is that because these are emerging markets?

No, mostly I think it’s cultural. In France they still want to see the work – they want to touch it they want to hold it. They don’t just want to look at lightboxes on a website.

In this economy is stock a solution to saving money and cutting risk on original shoots?

I certainly hope so because that’s part of what I’m banking on. Our business has been growing healthily this year.

Are you adding photographers to the archive?

Yes, there are a few who have recently come aboard that are not yet online – like Philip Lorca Di Corcia, Raymond Meier, and Dewey Nicks. There are still a few photographers out there who create the type of imagery we believe in. We’re interested in representing them but there is definitely an end point. Right now we have roughly 62 photographers but I don’t really see our roster growing to much more than over 100. There are only so many artists that create work at this level. We don’t want to be Corbis or Getty. We will always be a high end boutique service.

ImageSpan May Change Stock Photography Forever

- - Stock, The Future

Whats the biggest problem facing stock photography today? Is it finding pictures or is it licensing pictures? For a certain group of clients and buyers it’s finding pictures that meet a specific criteria, which inevitably includes a level of trust that the image appears nowhere else and that the model release is solid. That market is fixed and declining so I believe the potential for growth lies in easier licensing of images. That way you can license to consumers, to people who have no clue how to do it and to people who steal images. This is where the potential exists (story here) and this is where image span has taken a step in the right direction with their license stream software (here). They allow you to attach licensing to an image and publish it anywhere. You can even publish it straight into google from their dashboard.

In the words of CEO Iain Scholnick, “Image Span hopes to do for digital content what credit card companies do for physical content. Make it easy to buy.” They even take a credit card like five percent of the transaction. Now, buying images with credit cards is not an original idea and two recent high profile failures in the industry, that were geared towards selling the pictures of any photographer around should be enough to tell you it’s a tough market to crack. Ian told me the problem with their licensing was that humans were doing the transactions. The solution is to automate it. I can certainly see how the future of stock photography is about buyers clicking on images and making instant purchases with instant delivery. But, for me it’s about the ability to distribute the content in new ways. On google, blogs and even the NY Times website. When photography travels with it’s own license the potential is endless.

Sounds pretty sweet right. You attach licenses to your images and scatter them around the internet and when people want to use them they click and make a purchase. Well, here’s where it becomes real interesting because they announced a new development today called content tracker (press release here). The images you want to license can now also be tracked and when they appear in unlicensed uses you will be notified. I was told by Ian that they create a digital fingerprint of the image from the ones and zeros and that makes it impossible to crop the tracking out. They even have one click notifications that you can send to the offending party to ask them to license, remove or properly credit the use. This closes the loop on publishing images online because it allows you to track all the uses of your images and can be a powerful deterrent in preventing theft.

I’m sure this is just the very beginning of the potential for something like this and if the investors are any indication (Bertelsmann) there’s a huge need for licensing and tracking on the corporate level but what I like best is they’ve created a solution for everyone.

Digital Railroad Teeters on the Edge

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“…it’s reasonable to expect a very short period of time for the final resolution of DRR – no less than 30 days, and a maximum of 90, but I expect they will surely want everything either closed down or transferred to a new owner by December 31st at the latest.” — John Harrington, Photo Business News (here)

Alamy To Open Sales Office in NYC

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Alamy is setting up a dedicated sales office in NYC and charging all it’s contributors an extra 5% on sales to do so. The US market makes up 30% of their revenue at the moment but they think the dedicated sales team can ramp that up and increase gross payments to their contributors.

I’m not sure how a dedicated sales office increases the amount of stock you sell. Wouldn’t marketing and adding more US targeted imagery do the trick?

Here’s the announcement from Alamy (here). Thanks Steve.

Photoshelter Stops Selling Stock

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Effective 10/10/2008, The PhotoShelter Collection will discontinue stock photo licensing.

We’ve made a strategic decision to focus our efforts on enhancing our original product, The Personal Archive.

Explanation (here).

How To Buy A Photo On Flickr

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Finding one is fairly easy, well, it’s not bad if you can’t find what you need on the traditional stock sites and you’ve run out or ideas where to look or, and this happens too, you’re sick of seeing the same handful of images for a package you run every single year and want something different this time, then suddenly when you type in your keywords there’s thousands of hits and of course most of them are garbage but usually not too far in there’s something workable.

So, you grab it and put it in your folder and it eventually ends up on the server and possibly in a layout and then on the wall where the editor approves it then it’s taken down the hall where the big chief says he loves that image and then back on your desk where suddenly you’re staring at it thinking where the hell did I get this image.

So you go on the server and look at the file name which is usually something innocuous like myfavioritephoto.jpg and then look at the meta data and there’s usually none and this is where your nightmare can begin because once you actually locate the image on flickr again the person who shot it may not even have an email (I only made that mistake once) and if they do it’s possible they loaded the image 4 years ago and never put another one up (a bad sign) but if the email is there you fire one off stressing the urgency and I usually include the siize of the publication and the price as extra motivation because we’re usually on deadline once the big chief has approved something.

The story ends one of 4 ways. 1. You never hear back. 2. You hear back but the file they send you isn’t big enough or doesn’t look good on the proof. 3. The fact checkers discover that it’s not the correct location. 4. They get back to you with the right size file and the caption is correct and everything is cool.

I’ve had all 4 happen so I know the odds are about equal and this is why Flickr will forever remain a last resort for photo editors.

Photoshelter Announces New Stock Photography Event

- - Stock

July 20th is “Shoot the Day” and Photoshelter is throwing a huge event with classes, competitions and parties (here’s the website) and there’s plenty of stuff to sign-up for so get going cause it looks like spots are limited.

They’ve also got an interesting shoot competition happening where 20 PhotoShelter photographers will be chosen (after applying first) for fully staffed photo shoots. All photo shoot expenses will be covered, including location, prepping models, lighting, and analysis of images. A makeup artist, stylist, and photo assistant will be provided where possible. Not sure if that includes the traditional “Sushi, Wrap Dinner” where the photographer and photo editor try to get fired by eating and drinking the entire shoot budget in one sitting, but if it does count me in.

Additionally, PhotoShelter surveyed over 700 photo buyers, editors and art directors and discovered an urgent need for certain types of imagery in the global supply of stock Photography.

Can you guess what item from the following list was on that survey?

The answer is (here).

If that’s not enough, they also just launched a new feature called School of Stock (here) where photographers can go get skooled on the in’s and out’s of the stock photography business. There are sections on production, model releases, lighting and topics that buyers are interested in are explored in depth. There’s even a section for newbies that simply defines stock photography. Apparently the definition has changed (here) since I started in this business and stock is no longer defined as “shit leftover from a shoot that nobody wants.”

Stock Photo Keyword Zen

- - Stock

I consider myself a pretty good stock researcher. Mostly because I’ve done so much of it and partially because I like doing it (exceptions here and here). This is what I think makes someone good at stock research: The ability to identify great images as thumbnails, a massive list of agencies to search (here’s mine), persistence and keyword zen.

Keyword zen is the most important part.

The majority of searches begin with a laundry list of different places and things and people and events and activities that I need to find images for. To make it easier I break that down into a list of keywords I want to search, so knowing what makes a good keyword is critical.

Ok, this is the least helpful part of this post: I don’t really know how to explain what makes a good keyword, because it’s like talking wookie, it’s a special stock researcher language all it’s own and until you get in there and do it for a bit and experiment you can’t possible know the structure of a good keyword sentence.

Ok, this might be helpful: A good trick I’ve learned is to just drop in and browse (I call this trolling… as in trolling for sharks) with a couple keywords then when you find an photo you like, check and see what keywords they’re using and use those to head down that path to see where it leads. Another technique I use is to start with the most constrictive set of keywords first (zero hits is the goal) and then start backing out till the results are too much then head back in to the sweet spot and do a search.

The weirdest trick I’ve ever discovered was several years ago when I was looking for a photo that I swear didn’t exist (at least in any semi-publishable form) and was getting nowhere fast so I decided to try misspelling the words. It was like unlocking a secret door and discovering a room full or abandoned pictures, gathering dust, just sitting there waiting to be discovered wondering why nobody ever visits. At 11pm in an empty office in the middle of midtown Manhattan it’s feels like you’ve fallen down a rabbit hole.

The #1 Source for Stock

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Photographer websites.

If I want to find the best stock in the world I just go to my favorite photographer websites and look at their portfolio and there it is, the top 40-60 photos they’ve ever taken, edited and ready to be published again.

Fill In The Blank Stock

- - Stock

Every once and awhile a designer would come up to me with a layout filled with holes. What goes in those holes, you might ask? Stock pictures of course. My job (and those who worked with me) was to take the layout and find photos that fit in the holes. If there’s a vertical hole next to a headline that says “Volleyball in Kosovo” I need to find a vertical photo of Volleyball in Kosovo. What happens if I find a horizontal photo of Volleyball in Kosovo? Can it be cropped? No, then that’s a problem because turning a vertical hole into a horizontal hole will obviously change the flow of text and suddenly your horizontal hole has the headline “Field Hockey in Gabon,” (this being a package on obscure sports in strange places and all) and now you need to find a horizontal of Field Hockey in Gabon but then what happens if you find a vertical of field hockey in Gabon, can’t you simply flop the stories. No, dumbass they’re ranked. Duh. They have to appear in the order we have them in–until the writer uncovers new information that changes the ranking and throws the whole thing out of whack. And, so it goes, filling in the holes until the final urgent email, “we still need a square photo of Elephant Polo in Sri Lanka and the package ships tonight.”

This is not a rant against Designers who hand Photo Editors layouts filled with holes. I know all to well the source of this phenomenon. The package was assigned at the last minute and the layout deadline is fast approaching and all the text is in so we need to start a layout while the slack-ass Photo Editor finds all the photos and the Editor really likes the configuration we used last year and the production department really needs adjacencies for advertising and don’t forget about the quarter page consecutive ads that Honda bought that need to appear on pages 4,5,6 and 10 of the package (clever bastards hope they paid a premium). Also, we want to add cool icons to aid in navigation because everyone’s using cool icons these days and don’t forget about the 12 sidebars plus a running ticker and what about the maps, do you expect the readers to know where Gabon, Kosovo and Sri Lanka are on their own, we need maps. So, you see designers, I know where the layout with the holes comes from and it’s not about winning SPD Gold just trying to survive the shit storm.

So, I close the door to my office, crank Rage Against the Machine, glare at any intruders, grab my handy stock list (here) and find the horizontals and verticals of all the obscure sports in all the obscure places. Sometimes I even surprise myself and find a really cool photo or agency or photographer that I didn’t know about, sometimes I just weather the storm.

Searching For Photos That Don’t Exist

- - Stock

Working as a Photo Editor at a National Magazine the monthly low point usually occurs when the editor reviews the layout illustrated with the shittiest photos I have ever seen that were the direct result of hours upon hours of stock searches for a subject that’s thinly covered and being told that, rather then kill the story or run an illustration, I need to look a little further and find something good this time.

“Did it it ever occur to you that the subject you have chosen for extensive coverage in the magazine might possibly be shit and that’s why the photos are shit? No, I’m sure it has something to do with the fact that I haven’t uncovered the one decent photographer who happened to take a picture that makes this subject look good. Maybe I’ll try Flickr or Google.”

And, so I would hunker down in my office with my Stock Photo List (here) and try endless combinations of keywords and search obscure stock sites and try single word searches on Corbis and Getty that would turn up 10,000 images to sift through or sometimes I’d troll the crap stock sites praying for a diamond among the turds and I’d do this until I felt like I’d looked under every rock or completely run out of time.

Having spent many years working at magazines of a similar genre from time to time subjects we’ve covered before would crop up in meetings and that’s where I could finally say with authority, “I’ve searched for pictures on that subject before and nothing good exists so we should kill the story now or assign an illustration.” This is usually when the Editor or Creative Director decides to do a quick Google image search and finds the perfect photo.

Stock Photo Agencies

- - Stock

Here’s my stock photography list. If I’m missing anything good let me know.

Jupiter Images
Aurora Photos

Art and Commerce
Lens Modern
Gallery Stock
Panos Pictures
Glass House Images
F-Stop Images
Redux Pictures
Stock That Doesn’t Suck
Independent Photography Network
Monsoon Images
Arcangel Images
Trunk Images
IC Worldwide

Syndicated Celebrity Images
Corbis Portraiture
Trunk Images
CPi Syndication
Contour Photos
Icon International
Exclusive by Getty Images
Art and Commerce
Lime Foto
Celebrity Pictures
August Image
JBG Photo
Management + Artists Syndication

AP Images
The New York Times Photos
The Canadian Press
The New York Times Agency
Redux Pictures
Gamma Presse
Black Star
KRT Direct
UK News Photos
Polaris Images
World Picture News
Kyodo News
Tass Photo (russia/eastern europe)
Zuma Press
Atlas Press Photo

News- Features
Magnum Photos
VII Agency
Agence VU
Oeil Public
Contact Press
Noor Images
Grazia Neri

Sports Illustrated
Sports Chrome
Icon Sports Media
ESPN Event Media
Red Bull Photofiles
Gilles Martin-Raget
Extreme Sports Photo
Cal Sports Media
International Sports

Aurora Outdoor Collection
Surfing Stock
A-Frame Photo

PPL Photo Agency
Blue Green Pictures
Kos Sailing pictures
Yacht Photo

Movie Archive
Everett Collection, Inc.
Neal Peters Collection
Photofest NYC
BFI Stills
Picture Desk
Album Online
Movie Store
All Star

Robert Harding
Lonely Planet
Hedgehog House
UK Travel Library
Africa Imagery
Macduff Everton Stock
Tropical Pix
South Africa Images
Odyssey Productions
UK Beach

Region Specific- US
Photo Resource Hawaii
Alaska Stock
Accent Alaska
Yankee Image
Idaho Stock Images
National Park Photographs
Pacific Northwest
Salmon River
Pacific Stock Photography
ViewFinders Northwest
Yellowstone Digital Slide File
Picturesque Stock Photo

Other Countries
Euro Stock
4 Corners (Italy)
Axiom Photo
Europe Stock Images
Anzenberger Webgate
Italy Images
Switzerland Photos
China Stock
Arcapress Photo Agency
Maritius Images
Swedish Stock
All Canada Photos
New Zealand
Foto Libra
Imagine China

Peter Arnold
Minden Pictures
Animals Animals
Images of Nature
National Geographic Images
Terra Brasil Imagens
Nature Picture Library
Joel Sartore Stock
Norbert Wu
Steve Bloom
Art Wolfe
Muench Photography
Terra Galleria
DRK Photo
Oxford Scientific
World Foto

Photographer Specific Archives
Erickson Productions
Strobo Photo
Jef Maion

Music Pictures

Art Resource

Museums and Collections
Smithsonian Photos
National Archives
Library of Congress Prints
UCR California Museum of Photography
George Eastman House
Charles W. Cushman Photograph Collection
National Archives
National Museum of Photography
Art Museum Image Consortium
Whitney Museum of American Art
Woodfin Camp
The Granger Collection
Royal Geographical Society
NASA Photos
Culver Pictures
Photos Grannis

Orb Image
Aerial Photography
Aerial Stock
Land Slides

More General
AGE Foto Stock
Acclaim Images
The Image Works
Photo Researchers (science)
Millennium (London)
FotoTeca (travel)
Plain Picture
Tidal Stock
First Light
Big Shot Stock

Folio ID

Photographers Groups
Nature Photographers
Sports Shooter

Citizen Image