255 GETTING IMAGES SEEN
October 12, 1999
One of the toughtest things in today's stock photo market is finding a way to
get your images in a position to be seen by potential customers.
At TSI many photographers who have been major producers in the past are
reporting they are getting fewer and fewer images accepted for scanning
and inclusion into the Dupe Master Collection (DMC) or online.
Quite a large number report that have had less than 10 images accepted in the
past year. Not all of these images made it into one of the print catalogs.
Often images are accepted by a U.S. editor, sent to London for consideration
by the London editing team, held for months and then returned unaccepted with
Many of the rejected images were "art directed" by the U.S. editors, and
after several re-shoots the photographer produced exactly what the U.S.
editor was asking for.
Many photographers feel that their best and most saleable images were not
accepted by the U.S. editors. As one photographer put it the editing
philosophy seems to be to only accept images that are more Outrageous than
MTV. While no one would deny that there is some market for the MTV type of
imagery, there is also a market for what might be called Working Images that
have strong composition and illustrate often used concepts.
These Working Images are being totally ignored by TSI, and not even placed in the
files. Nevertheless, this type of image still sells briskly at TSI, based on
photographer's sales reports. But they are images that were produced, and
placed in the files, years ago.
Many of these photographers are finding that other agencies immediately
accept the rejected images because they believe the images are
marketable. In addition some have made high ticket sales with rejected
Anything of an editorial nature is being rejected. Editors have been
replaced because they were "too editorially oriented." Photographers have
been told, "we are only taking the highest end images which will produce
multi-sales in the international advertising market." Editorial photographers
who were formerly with Liaison and who were moved to TSI after the acquisition
are now finding that most of their production is rejected.
Everything has to be so generic that one photographer commented, "A shot of a
French Provence can not look like itself, because it must also illustrate up
state New York or the California wine country."
Even when photographers use all the popular MTV techniques -- cross
processing, b&w infraread, negative film, polaroid slide film, distored
images, out of focus, blur, funky colors, digitally manipulated to produce
saturated color palettes -- they find this still doesn't satisfy the editors
Photographers are at a loss to figure out where the communications is
breaking down. They do exactly what their editors tell them, the editor
accepts the image and it is later rejected. Do U.S. editors know
what London wants? Does London know what it wants? Does London want
anything? Does London have any idea what the worldwide market wants? So
much of what they reject seems to sell through other sources.
Some photographers have been told that TSI has dropped plans to build a
section of their file that would target the
Asian market. The photographers assessment is that that market is too
small (maybe 3% to 5% of the world market) for Getty to justify producing
images specifically targeted for that market. Getty will be happy to sell
Asians images that were shot to meet the needs of the U.S. or European
markets -- if the Asians want them.
It is hard to imagine where the current global strategy will eventually take
TSI and Getty. But it would seem to leave wide openings for many suppliers
who are willing to target specific markets and supply strong coverage
One thing seems sure. Just because you have the world's largest database of
images doesn't mean that you have the most current material on many subjects
of moderate demand.