Random Thoughts 90

Posted on 11/2/2004 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)



November 2, 2004

PACA Names New Executive Director

Cathy Aron, former President of PACA, has been hired to the full time position of Executive Director of PACA, and will assume the responsibilities of that position in January 2005.

Aron is currently negotiating with interested parties for the acquisition of her stock agency, Photo Network, located in Santa Ana, California. Photographers have been notified of the pending change.

Epison Visual Search Incorporated Into Photoshop Elements

The Idee Espion Visual Search technology had been licensed by Adobe to incorporate into Photoshop Elements. Initially this will be most useful to art directors who are trying to locate a particular image within their own database, but once they get more comfortable with visual search they will discover the advantages of using it to search through large databases of images.

At the recent PACA conference the Art Buyers on the panel were totally unaware of Visual Search. Thus, while this technology is getting a lot of buzz within the stock photo industry as the wave of the future, customers are, for the most part, blissfully unaware of its potential.

On the other hand Bahar Gidwani, CEO of Index Stock Imaqery, recently reported on his blog (www.dimdump.com) that in 60% of the searches on the Index site customers only use a single word (not multiple words) to search for images. Such searches, without any qualifiers, are likely to produce a huge number of hits, particularly as everyone adds more and more images to their sites. Before very long customers are going to need better ways to narrow their searches and visual search coupled with the use of keywords should dramatically reduce the time it takes a customer to find the right image on a large site.

It may take a while for customers to learn to use visual search effectively just as it took a few years for them to learn to search for images on the internet, but once they see the advantages I'm convinced they will adopt it in a big way.

Is Average Price For RM Images Used Climbing?

One thing we often fail to think about when we calculate average price-per-image-used for RM images is the usage mix.

For example, in the last two years Getty's average price-per-image-used has been as low as $470 and as high as $605 with the last quarter at $591. It would appear to be good news that, in general, the price is trending up.

Granted, a few very high dollar advertising sales could skew the numbers up, but given the volume of sales Getty has, a few such sales may not have a big effect on the averages.

Another factor to consider is the number of quarter-page or smaller uses. If the number of these is declining due to increased use of RF and Subscription images for these purpose then a larger portion of the RM sales would be for larger size uses. This could push the AVERAGES higher, even if the prices for the various types of usages, and quantities are falling.

Unfortunately, photographers seldom get enough detail from their agencies in terms of size and circulation to make any type of judgment as to whether price is going up or down. Hopefully, their agencies are looking at the granularity of these price increases and not just at a single average price number as they make assumptions based on industry trends.

Are Digital Files Too Sharp?

While everyone seems to be finally moving to digital capture, I'm finding that some of those who have been using digital the longest are returning to film. Why?

One thing I'm hearing is that digital is TOO SHARP. Consequently, the process of retouching all the tiny flaws in a digital image in order to make it perfect enough to meet the standards of some agencies is extremely burdensome on the creator. In some cases, it seems, photographers are required to do a lot more work on a file created digitally than on one that is a scan of a film image.

The reason seems to be grain - or a lack thereof. For example, last week I watched a photographer work on a half-body digital shot of a person showing face and hands. The photographer was retouching the cuticle of the fingernails because this small area of the digital file was so sharp that it would be distracting when examined at several hundred percent by the intake editors at some of the portals. If this image had been shot on film and then scanned to a high resolution the grain of the film would have obscured this detail and retouching would have been unnecessary.

And, of course, if this image is eventually printed in a magazine the dot pattern in the printing process would likely obscure any flaws in the cuticle - unless it was a hand shot, which this wasn't.

Of course art directors at magazines will never get a chance to see the image if it can't get past quality control at the portal.

Quality control can be taken to extremes, but when new technology allows us to reach such extremes it is hard to set a standard at any less than the maximum achievable regardless of how much time and effort is wasted in the process.

Index Stock Imagery Launches Subscription Site

Index Stock Imagery has launched www.IndexOpen.com offering subscribers unlimited access to more than 25,000 high resolution images for $599 for a six months. The file sizes available at this price range from 30MB to 50MB.

Currently the images on IndexOpen come from Ablestock, FogStock, Photolibrary, TakeStock and Index Stock's own Image Ideas collection.

If the subscriber doesn't find what he needs on IndexOpen it is possible to easily link to Index Stock's regular site with over 800,000 RM and RF images and illustrations to choose from.

According to Dan Russelman, President of Index, "Index Open gives our customers instant access to more than 25,000 high-quality, Royalty Free photos and illustrations. There are more than 50 contributing agencies and artists, so customers will experience a diverse selection of style and content. We plan on adding thousands of additional images to the site in the months to come."

OnRequest and Index Stock Imagery Partner

OnRequest Images has announced that Index Stock Imagery has joined its Image Partner Program. Index Stock will be offering Custom Stock Photography to its clients through the OnRequest Images referral program and will also showcase images produced by OnRequest photographers at www.indexstock.com.

The partnership enables OnRequest's 1,600 photographers to benefit from increased exposure of their images on Index's site. OnRequest will also be inviting Index Stock photographers to join its network of photographers that agree to deliver quality, custom images shot specifically to the client requirements in 48 to 72 hours. OnRequest Images has created custom images for nearly 200 leading advertising agencies and corporations nationwide.

Upcoming Trade Association Meetings

Next year's CEPIC Congress will be in Prague from June 15th through the 19th. CEPIC has about 1,000 member libraries and agencies that are members of 10 national associations in 11 countries in Europe. There are some countries that do not have national associations and agencies from these countries may join CEPIC directly. In total CEPIC has members from 22 countries in Europe and represents about 80% of all agencies in Europe.

The PACA International Conference will be in Redondo Beach, CA on October 15th and 16th, 2005.

Copyright © 2004 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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