Digital Railroad has launched the beta version of Research NetworkTM that enables picture buyers to submit research requests, free of charge, to more than 1,300 photographers and 65 agencies in 62 countries. Buyers may submit requests online in real time using their own descriptive phrases, or contact the research staff of Digitalrailroad.net MarketplaceTM.
Digitalrailroad.net members are alerted to requests by going to an interactive forum or via RSS feed. Members have the option of submitting images from their existing online collection, or scan and upload from their analog files that might not have been previously scanned, but match the buyer needs.
Submissions from multiple sources on a particular topic are aggregated in a single custom lightbox for the buyer's review. When buyers select the photographs they need, image licensing is handled through Marketplace e-commerce tools or Marketplace staff, enabling convenient payment and invoicing options.
Jenny Pouech, art coordinator at Alfred A. Knopf/Random House says: "Finally, a way to reach a diverse group of independent photographers and small agencies with a single research request."
This service is designed to facilitate easy communication between buyers and image creators. It saves buyer time in locating the right image. In addition, it makes a broad cross section of sellers aware of projects buyers are working on and enables them to create images to fulfill the request.
Some of the initial requests may not be subjects many photographers normally upload to their online collections or realize potential demand. They include: famous runners from Kenya, a motorcycle in Montreal with a recognizable city background, a half-open door revealing the secret gardens of Venice, kayaking in Patagonia and elephant polo in Jaipur.
Each request lists the file size needed, color or B&W, orientation, if releases are necessary and the deadline in a specific zone. Requests are grouped into categories, such as editorial, news, sports, travel, portrait, entertainment, nature and other.
"Research Network is very exciting and innovative," said Sarah M. Clay, account manager, Avenue A | Razorfish. "Our team will definitely be able to use this feature. It's always tough to find the perfect image, especially for our wide range in client base. It's an excellent idea for us to work directly with the individual photographers -- an enhancement which will be greatly beneficial to our business."