447 RANDOM THOUGHTS 42
December 14, 2001
Editorial Agency Problems
The French editorial agencies Gamma and Globalphoto are also having financial problems. In
we reported on the problems Corbis-Sygma is having, but they are not alone.
According to the French newspaper Le Monde, Gamma owned by the French press group Hachette
Fiilippachi Media has announced a total expected deficit for 2001 of 20 million francs (about $2.7
million U.S.) on sales of about 65 million francs ($8.8 million U.S.)
Gamma wants to lay off 24 of their total paid staff of 132. Seven of the 30 staff photographers
will be affected. Gamma is going through the same Joint Consultative Committee process as Sygma
and a meeting is scheduled for December 28th to explain more details of the plan.
Floris de Bonneville, CEO of Globalphoto.com has confirmed that the company has declared
bankruptcy because their investors are unwilling to put more money into it. However, de Bonneville
expects that there will be a reorganize with a new buyer. He says the bankruptcy should not have
any effect on the photographers.
de Bonneville attributes Globalphoto's problems to trying to operate an "internet portal and a
normal agency at the same time."
Return Of Images At Getty
Getty Images has announced that in 2001 they returned almost 10 million images to photographers.
Most of these returns went to Stone, Image Bank and VCG photographers. Since the company acquired
VCG, Getty has claimed that they represent about 70 million images. That number is now reduced to
Roger Ressmeyer, VP of Strategy & Corporate Development at Getty, says that returning images
continues to be a major effort at the company and many more images will be returned in 2002. He
also points out that because the images are filed by subject and must be resorted by photographer,
the work is tedious and painstaking, but it is ongoing.
New Corbis Stock Market Contracts
Word on the street is that the first Corbis Stock Market contracts have started arriving at
photographer's studios. Corbis has indicated that Gerry Thies would be mailing these out at a rate
of 15 to 20 a week rather than sending all photographers their contracts at the same time.
I have not seen one of these new contracts, but it is expected that the photographers will be
asked to accept 45% of sales instead of the previous 50%. However, under the new contracts the
photographers will not be required to pay catalog and promotion fees.
Some photographers have had lots of images into promotion in catalogs in the past believe that if
catalog fees are eliminated they could actually earn more (for the same volume of sales) under the
new contract than they earned under the old.
For this reason the timing of this contract is critical. Corbis is about to release a new CSM
catalog, and the question for photographers is whether their images in this catalog will be
covered under to old or new rules. Of course, there will be many other differences between the old
and new contracts that will have to be examined carefully to determine the real cost/benefit of
the new offer.
According to Trend Watch, in their recent Design & Production survey 11% of ad agencies reported
excellent business conditions and 11% reported very bad conditions. This should be compared with
answers to the same questions in the summer of 2000 when 52% reported excellent conditions and 1%
reported very bad conditions. Times have certainly changed.
Despite current conditions, most creative firms are optimistic and believe the market has likely
hit bottom. They don't expect things to get dramatically better in the immediate future, but they
feel they are unlikely to get worse.
Zefa has released a new catalog in Europe called "Time Out - People and Concepts". The 370 page
catalog contains material on a wide range of interpretations on the topic of free time. The main
categories of imagery include: party, family holiday, friends, generations, consumers, sports,
wellness & beauty, food & drink and concepts.
It is unclear who will be handling the Zefa catalog in the U.S. Zefa expects to open its own U.S.
office late in 2002.
Advertising By Mail
In light of the new focus on terrorism through the mails it appears some U.S. mail is disappearing
completely, and other items are being severely delayed. If this becomes a permanent problem it may
accelerate the move from print to online marketing in the U.S.
Promotions that are sent by e-mail are not only cheaper, but may have a better chance of getting
Packages that contain print catalogs or other printed pieces may become much more suspect,
particularly if the company is not already well known by the recipient. Magazine style promotions
which are not enclosed in any type of packaging may be preferable to those that come in a box.
There are indications that many people who were very anti-e-mail a year or so ago are now more
willing to give out their e-mail address and accept short, targeted e-mail on issues that interest
them. These promotions are not just a benefit to sellers. Buyers also recognize that they need
some convenient way to find out what new material is available, and to locate new sources. Without
such information they can't perform their jobs.
However, there is a still a knee jerk reaction against SPAM just as there has always been against
JUNK MAIL. Over the years most of us have learned how to quickly identify junk mail and separate
it from something that is of interest to us. It all still comes to our home or office, but the
junk quickly goes to the trash.
In an attempt to rid the internet of SPAM some ISP's filter incoming e-mail and decide what their
customers should be allowed to see. However, there is a problem if the person doing the censoring
doesn't fully understand the needs of the intended recipient.
Selling Stock has recently had a problem where some of our paid subscribers have been blocked from
receiving our update notices because someone else who uses our ISP had been sending SPAM. The ISP
of our subscribers determined that they would block all messages coming from our ISP regardless of
who sent them.
Something to think about as you consider new promotion options.
Digital Newsgroup Formed
A new digital newsgroup is being formed by APAnet that is open to all photographers, not just APA
APAdigital is designed for stock and advertising photographers who wish to discuss self-contained
digital capture (small and medium format), film scanners (for those scanning both old and new
work), digital workflow (including required specialized software for digital capture), delivery
standards, and billing issues.
APAdigital will have guest members who are interested in the same technical issues. This would
include stock agencies and advertising agencies who are making the digital transition.
To join, send an e-mail to:
All members will be verified to be professionals working in the field. The organizers caution that
due to this verification process it could take a few days to approve subscription requests and
thank you for your patience.