Random Thoughts 51

Posted on 9/19/2002 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)



September 19, 2002

Presenting Digital Images For Consideration

Many photographers are still very nervous about putting images online for fear they will be
stolen and used without their permission.

Photographers need to recognize that in most publishing situations several people must
review and approve the image before it is finally selected for use. To do this the primary
researcher may select a number of thumbnails from a variety of sources. Commonly the
researcher then copies all these thumbnails into a single digital lightbox for the project
and e-mails that lightbox to the editor, author, or others involved in the decision making
process. These people may be in many parts of the country. Technically this is "publishing"
the images on the internet, but it is for review purposes only and should be a free use
that is allowed.

If a researcher gets film from a photographer, it is now common for the researcher to make
a low resolution scan of the selected images and include them in a lightbox that is sent
forward for review. The researcher does not send film. The selection process is made based
on the thumbnail scan. Only after the narrowing process has taken place does the researcher
go back for a larger preview image or, if necessary, film for the final selection process
and use.

Photographers need to recognize that their images are being scanned and moved around on the
internet in this way. If they want to license rights to their images they must permit this

Some photographers and portals have notices on their sites that prohibit such scanning and
e-mailing of images unless that right to do so has been licensed. When confronted with such
restrictions ethical researchers will, more often than not, move to another portal to do
their search. There is no practical way for them to review images with these restrictions
given the editing processes established by their company.

Several things are important in making your images available for licensing.

  • The terms and conditions on your site need to make it legal for the researcher to
    copy thumbnails to their own lightbox. The researcher needs to create lightboxes that are
    structured for specific projects in order to expedite the review process at their company.
    Each lightbox is likely to include images from many different portals or other sources.

  • Data that identifies where the image came from needs to be attached to each
    thumbnail. If the file name does not include an agency identifier researchers will often
    re-name the file before they send it forward. In this renaming process they try to maintain
    the agency number and simply add an agency name or identifier. It is easier for the
    researcher if re-naming is unnecessary and there is less chance for error. A researcher
    almost always uses many sources when choosing images for a book project.

  • It is also helpful if all caption data and other explanatory data about the image
    also travels with the thumbnail.

These points are worth considering as we attempt to make it easier for the picture buyers
to purchase images.

Online Use In Book Publishing Arena

At a recent American Society of Picture Professionals (ASPP) meeting it became increasing
apparent that picture researchers working for book publishers are doing much of their
research online. Many said they are under such time pressures on their projects that the
internet is their sole source when searching for stock images. If your image is not
available for viewing online there is little chance of it being found.

This is interesting because many would have expected the people who work in this segment of
the market -- text and trade books -- to be the last to give up using analog files as their
source of images.

Many photographers have put a small selection of their images online in the hopes that the
researchers will see that the photographer has a style, or depth of coverage that they
need, and then will request that the photographer research his or her files for the needed
images. While it is obvious that this still happens in some cases, it seems clear that the
preference of the researcher is to find the image they need online. If they can find online
anything at all that fits their requirements they are likely to probably settle for those
images and not search further in an attempt to find a better or more appropriate image in
the analog environment.

This is not because they don't have a desire to find the best possible image. Historically,
that is what they have been trained to do. But, the limits of time and budget that have
been placed on them tend to make it impossible for them to do the kind of traditional file
search they once did.

Licensing Unlimited Rights

Increasingly, researchers working for book publishers are asking photographers for
"unlimited" or "all rights" to use an image. At the ASPP conference it was pointed out that
often researchers who deal directly with the photographers -- and particularly freelancers
who are not full time employees of the publisher -- believe that photographers should not
be agreeing to such broad give ups of their rights. The researcher may want to help the
photographer, but is in a delicate legal position and can't advise the photographer.

Because the researcher is employed by the publishers, she is required to present the
publishers point of view, even if she doesn't fully agree with it. The researcher can
present the photographer's offer to their employer, but may risk losing her job if she
advises the photographer on how to structure that offer or indicates what might be

Instead of asking the researcher what to do, the photographer simply needs to present a
counter offer in writing. Many photographers believe they must accept the publishers first
offer or lose the sale. That is usually not the case. Often the publisher has told the
researcher to ask for certain rights hoping the photographer will be willing to give up
lots of rights for little money. But, the publisher may be willing to pay more, or accept
lesser rights, if the image is important to their project.

If the photographer is not sure what to do, he or she should consult a colleague or someone
other than the researcher. Stock Connection offers a paid consultation service to
photographers and advises on strategies for responding to specific price requests. The fee
is $2.50 per minute, but such telephone consultations often take no more than five to ten

For more information on negotiating such deals see our
Story 466 on "Textbook Revenue".

Picturehouse In New York

Picturehouse/New York 2002 is scheduled to take place on November 13th from 11:00 am until
7:00 pm at the Tribeca Rooftop, 2 Desbrosses Street. The event is open to qualified stock
picture buyers and more that 3,500 Manhattan area creatives from ad agencies, design firms
and book and magazine publishers will be invited.

Picturehouse is a networking event that provides stock image sources with the opportunity
to distribute free catalogs and CD's, demonstrate their websites and network with
Manhattan's art directors, photo editors and designers.

Stock agencies and other image sellers may rent tables to display their printed materials
or demonstrate their web sites. For more information go to www.picturehouse.org

Digital Vision Sanctioned For Racial Discrimination

The stock industry in London has been closely following the case of Claudia Stark vs.
Digital Vision. In a court case that lasted six days the English Employment Tribunal
unanimously ruled against Digital Vision on three counts:

  • Racial discrimination on the grounds of Ms. Stark's German nationality,

  • Unfair dismissal, and

  • Unlawful deduction of wages.

The Tribunal found that German-born Ms. Stark was hounded out of her job as International
Sales Manager of Digital Vision by her English colleagues after they abused her about the
Second World War. The staff made jokes about her flying to Britain "with the Luffwaffe" and
her bosses refused to promote her because she was "too Germanic."

The Tribunal singled out Digital Vision's Chief Executive, Mike Watson and Chief Financial
Officer, Andrew Anderson for their conduct in their treatment of Ms. Stark. The London
papers reported that when Ms. Stark's father was coming to visit Anderson said, "I bet he
was afraid to fly because we might shoot him down." When Watson heard she was launching her
grievance procedure, he said, "the German tanks were rolling, rolling, rolling."

After the verdict Ms. Stark said, "Any business operating in an international environment
should treat its partners and employees with respect regardless of their gender, race or
nationality." Damages will be determined at a further hearing in October.

Hemera Royalty Free

Hemera is offering customers the AbleStock Membership which entitles them to unlimited
downloads of high-resolution royalty-free images from its 15,000 image RF library for the
period of the Membership. The special introductory price for Memberships is $699 for
one-year, or $399 for six months. The web address is www.ablestock.com

The AbleStock collection contains stock photos in a variety of categories, and
Photo-Objects(tm) images which are images separated from their backgrounds with precise
clipping paths. All images can be downloaded in several file size formats, including large
(25-28 MB), medium (10 MB) and multimedia (1.5 MB). To expand the collection, images are
refreshed on a regular basis.

This project was lead by Niall O'Driscoll, Vice-President Content, and Jeffrey Foster,
Senior Director, both of whom bring significant industry experience having held positions
at Getty Images divisions including TonyStone.com, PhotoDisc.com and Eyewire.

"The AbleStock Membership gives designers a high-quality and high-value alternative to the
expensive royalty-free image products offered by many stock providers," said Marc-Antoine
Benglia, President of Hemera Technologies Inc. "The AbleStock Membership is a grass-roots
effort to provide high-quality, usable images at a reasonable price."

Hemera can offer a Membership purchase model because all Hemera images are wholly owned.
This means that the Company does not have to pay royalties to photographers, and can pass
this cost saving on to the customer. AbleStock images are original digital photographs,
produced using a digital-to-digital production process that eliminates traditional scanning
costs and also results in lower prices for customers.

Customers can still purchase single images without a Membership at the following prices:
25-28 MB ($129.99 USD), 10 MB ($69.99 USD) and 1.5 MB ($29.99 USD).

Copyright © 2002 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-251-0720, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of www.selling-stock.com, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to: http://www.jimpickerell.com/Curriculum-Vitae.aspx.  


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