The book also contains an indepth discussion of recent trends in the stock photo industry
and our analysis of where the industry is headed. While the industry has been through some rough
times we, see some interesting opportunities for many stock photo sellers. We outline what we
believe you will need to do to profit in the future.
Special Pre-Publication Discount
The regular price of this books is $40.00 plus $4.50 p/h in the U.S. and $9.00 for international
orders. There is a SPECIAL PRE-PUBLICATION DISCOUNT of $30 plus p/h until September 21, 2001.
Call 301-251-0720. Mail: Jim Pickerell, 110 Frederick Ave., Suite A, Rockville, MD 20850.
THE FUTURE IS ALAMY.COM
September 6, 2001 (Story 424) - alamy.com is beginning to look like the leading option
for photographers to market their images. They plan to launch a major promotional campaign this
fall to image buyers.
One of the major advantages of alamy.com is that it comes closer to being a pure technology
service provider (TSP) than most of the alternatives. Many of the other operations are focused
toward trying to be full-service stock agencies, rather than just providing technology services
to all comers -- photographers, stock agencies, editors, etc.
The alamy.com system is a new model for marketing stock photography. It promises to offer
photographers much more control over their work, and eliminate many of the disadvantages that
have been inherent in the stock agency systems up to this time.
When alamy first announced their plans in the fall of 2000 many photographers had reservations
for a couple major reasons:
- They questioned whether alamy.com could supply all the services stock agencies
presently supply on only 10% of sales.
- It appeared that the editing of the file would be very loose and many thought that a poorly
edited file would turn off customers.
In answer to the first question, alamy never intended to offer ALL the services of stock
agencies. They are focused on being a supplier of technology services, and that is what the 10%
To understand the true value of this offering you must first accept a few facts:
- While photographers can build their own searchable web sites, it is very time consuming
to keep up with the latest developments in technology. It is very easy for a photographer to end
up spending more time building a web site than taking pictures.
- There is an advantage for the customer in being able to go to one location to find the
images offered by many suppliers, rather than having to search through hundreds of different
sites to find what they need.
- There is a huge advantage for the customer in being able to use a keyword searchable
database to search for images rather than try to find images on web sites that are not fully
- Sites with a large number of images proved economies of scale that are not available to
small site operators. This enables large site operators to provide a much more efficient service
at a much lower cost per-image.
- Sites must be marketed to be effective. The larger the number of images those costs can be
spread over, the cheaper the cost-per-image.
- There are advantages in having someone else manage the day-to-day operations of an online
- There is an advantage in being able to get started with a relatively low entrance fee,
rather than having to pay the full costs of setting up a searchable site before starting to offer
- The needs of stock photo customers are much different from assignment customers. A personal
web site may work very well in presenting a portfolio to a targeted group of customers who are
looking for a photographer with specific skills that they can hire for an assignment, particularly
if this targeted group is of limited number. The stock photo buyer wants to see a
cross section of images from a number of photographers on a very specific subject. And that
subject will change from day to day and job to job. Two totally different types of marketing are
required to reach people with these different buying needs -- even though they may be exactly the
same individuals on different days.
If you accept these statements, then there is a big advantage to having someone who will just
supply technology services. Based on our analysis and discussion with alamy we believe that once
they reach a critical mass of imagery they will be able to supply these basic services for 10% of
However, there are a lot of normal agency services that are not part of alamy.com's core
business. They will not be providing:
1 - Assistance in editing
2 - Scanning
3 - Keywording
The way they handle negotiated sales, and the degree to which there will be any negotiating will
be different from a traditional stock agency. They will not have a worldwide staff of
Custom marketing to special user groups is likely to be done by the suppliers rather than
alamy.com. And they are not set up to provide special research to assist buyers in finding the
images they need. This may change, but is not in the present plans.
If photographers don't need these kinds of agency servies, then this is not a problem. But every
photographer that the services alamy.com offers for their basic fee are not as comprehensive as
the services of most stock agencies.
The alamy.com system is designed to overcome the technical and cost hurdles in building a
comprehensive online presence. This reduces capital investment and enables the photographers to
focus on their key skills of editing and production.
New Developments - Solutions for the Editing Problem
alamy.com is now offering two new features that greatly expands the potential of their site. They
are Custom Portals for Agencies and Collections.
Now with Agent 1.0 stock agencies can have their own website address where customers can search,
purchase and download images. The agency can also handle negotiations directly with their
customers and all library contact details are displayed on their home page. This custom portal
shows only the agency's images and nothing else. The agency can then promote that portal to the
agency's customer base. They pay 10% of sales to alamy.com for managing and maintaining the
technology, and they focus on what they know best -- the editing, customer relations and
negotiation of sales. Agencies can also use this tool to create smaller collections of their
total offering -- much like a catalog -- that show their best images on a particular topic.
"This is a major breakthrough for the industry. For the first time, agencies can offer their
customers full e-commerce capability. Agent 1.0 is an effective and secure way for agencies to
take their first step into the digital future. By having no upfront costs, libraries can also
invest more in marketing and focus on delivering value to their customers," said James West,
Some of the libraries already using the new service are Arcaid, Garden Picture Library, Steve
Bloom Images, Image Source, Image Farm, Pictor, and BBCWild. To see an example of a specialized
agency using this service see www.alamy.com/ARCAID and
search for "museums".
One of the major advantages of this strategy is that it is now easy to market custom sections of
the alamy.com site, as well as the total site. Potentially much more marketing will be done
because various groups will be doing special interest marketing to special interest buyers.
Getting Images Into Special Marketing Groups
Photographers who post their images on alamy.com directly will also benefit from this service. In
the near future alamy intends to make it possible for agencies with images on the site to connect
with photographers who have already posted images on the site, and include images (when approved
by the photographer) in separate agency promotions.
Here's how that will work. After reviewing images that are available on the main site, the agency
will make contact with the photographer and indicate that they would like to show some of the
photographers images as part of their edited group of images, on their portal. If the
photographer agrees, the images can easily me made available through both the agency's custom
portal and the main alamy.com portal.
Of course the agency will take some type of percentage of any sales they make because they are
going to be spending money promoting their special portal. What this percentage might be is left
to negotiation between the agency and the photographer. alamy.com is out of the picture at this
point, but alamy will still be managing the overall portal and setting certain rules for how
transactions will be handled.
One of those rules ia that if an agency negotiates a sale, certain specifics about the sale must
be reported in a online reporting system the day the deal is completed. Eventually (this module
is not completed yet), the photographers will be able to view this information for all sales of
their images, and determine on a daily basis which of their images have been licensed in which
parts of the world.
This is a total win situation for the photographer. The image remains on the main alamy site. If
a sale results from a customer coming to the main alamy site (which is promoted separately) the
photographer gets 90% of the fee minus the 3.5% to 5% charged for either credit card payment of
invoicing. If the sale results from the customer entering the agency portal the photographer
gives up an additional percentage, but this is only on those sales that he wouldn't have gotten
There is no limit on the number of agency portals on which a photographer can participate. The
only limiting factor would be if some of the agencies insisted on being the only agency in their
country representing a particular group of images. Some agencies may choose to operate that way.
But such a strategy would seem not to be in the best interest of the agency because it would
limit their offering to their customers. In any event, we expect that in the near future there
will be plenty of agencies seeking to represent the images photographers have posted on the alamy
site in certain special markets.
What About Exclusives?
If multiple agencies are able to license rights to my images doesn't that eliminate the
possibility of making big ticket exclusive sales?
The simple answer is No. If the image is only available on the alamy site, all the sales
information on that image from all the agencies licensing it will be available on the alamy site.
Thus, any one of the agencies can, at any time, determine whether there are any restrictions on
the licensing of that image. In addition, if an exclusive is licensed, a block can be put on the
licensing for any competing purpose during the time of the exclusive. This feature is not fully
operating on the Agent 1.0 version, but it is a simple process to set up and is sure to be
offered in the not to distant future.
For any who are skeptical, consider what had to happen when an exclusive was licensed through one
of the many Image Bank offices that used to be located around the world. If a U.S. exclusive was
licensed in New York there had to be communications with Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, etc. that
told them they could not license certain uses to that image for a certain period of time. The
online database just makes this process simpler. It is not important whether all these sales
offices belong to one organization, or whether they are many organizations so long as the data is
reported to, and maintained, in one central database.
Getting New Work Up Quickly
One advantage for the photographer is that they can put new images up as fast as they want to and
not have to worry about some agency taking too long to look through their new images. At that
point the images can at least be seen through alamy's main site. Once the images are on the site
photographers can contact any custom portals they would like to work with and ask them to take a
look at these new images. Many of the organizations with custom portals will be happy to accept
images in this way since they no longer have to incur costs of scanning and keywording.
Some photographers want to set up cooperatives. These can be organized around any subject such as
travel, wildlife, nature, education, aviation, cars, etc. Certain photographers who produce
several different types of work might want to become part of several cooperatives. One of the
keys to making such cooperatives successful will be in deciding how to market their custom
portal, and identifying a particular group of customers. We recommend that photographers not rush
out to set up a cooperative until they have a solid plan for promoting their portal, and have a
plan for handling negotiations when the automatic price doesn't work for the customer.
Choosing Which Groups To Join
Get a contract, be convinced that the agency will pay you promptly for any sales, understand who
the agency will be marketing to, get comfortable with their pricing structure and see how this
type of marketing develops. Also try to get an easy termination clause if the relationship
doesn't work out as expected. alamy can easily add or remove images from any custom edit group.
alamy.com has also developed a system called "Collections". With this system any editor can come
onto alamy.com, select a group of images for a special collection, give
that collection a title, and have it included on the alamy site as part of a list of collections.
The editor must get permission from each photographer to include their images in the collection
unless the photographer has given blanket permission to be included.
When photographers upload images, alamy.com offers them the option of having their images
included in: all collections, collections with specific approval or no collections. I recommend
that photographers not give blanket approval and only allow their images to be included in
collections with their "specific approval" until it becomes clear how well the collections
strategy will work. One of the problems this raises is that the collector must do the work before
he knows whether he can use the images in his collection, or not. But, I believe photographers
should not give up an additional 20% of sales until they get a thorough understanding of how
collections might be used.
Let me explain a little more about collections. Suppose an editor searches the alamy.com site for
"Birds of North America." This person finds that there are too many bird pictures to look through
and they are not well organized by North America, so the editor decides to produce a
"Collection." The editor puts together a selection of what he or she thinks are the best North
American bird pictures and gives this collection a title. If a buyer searches through this
collection and chooses an image from it the collector gets a percentage of any sale that results.
If the buyer finds the same image on the general alamy.com site without using the collection the
collector gets nothing. In this situation it may be beneficial for most photographers to have
their images included in the collection because it is likely to be a useful aid to buyers looking
for this type of imagery.
Keep in mind that while alamy.com has set 20% as the collectors share, that is open to
negotiation, if you are giving specific approval. Some collectors may accept less, although it is
hard to see how it will be worth the collectors time to accept much less in most cases. Some
collectors may want more, and that may be worthwhile if the collector is going to promote the
collection in some special way and you believe the collection is likely to really produce
At the moment, alamy is hand picking collectors to maintain the quality of the editing, and to
see how the whole collection strategy develops. It is not clear, at this point, that buyers will
use collections. If that is the case then an editors work could be totally wasted. To really be
effective, I believe specific collections will need to be promoted in some way, and it is not
clear exactly how that is going to happen.
One area where I think collections are likely to be very effective is in textbook research. Many
textbook researchers spend weeks doing indepth research for the book projects they work on. They
are often required to provide five or six images for each situation they are trying to
illustrate. They may pull together hundreds of images on a specific broad book topic. Once the
researcher has such a group of images for a particular title, if he or she creates a collection
that will be available for use by the next person working on a similar project, this original
researcher has the potential of earning additional income from the work already completed. This
will also be an incentive for researchers to use alamy.com as much as possible.
Agencies can also use the collection strategy to develop smaller groupings of images on
particular subjects within the images they are already authorized to represent. This may turn out
to be one of the most beneficial ways to used the collection tool.
It should be clear that the above initiatives solve the entire editing issue. There is no longer
reason for concern that alamy.com will become to large and unwieldy. Now there are all types of
custom edits being marketed separately. When this strategy fully flowers it will offer the best
of all worlds for photographers. It provides custom edits that can be promoted separately, and a
huge site that has plenty of depth in lots of subject areas for those who want to spend the time
to go through it.
It makes it possible for photographers to get their images into an online database quickly at the
least cost. And it offers them the possibility of having those images marketed by many different
marketers using a wide range of marketing strategies.
It is important to recognize the huge advantage this system offers buyers over the Getty and
Corbis offerings. No longer will the buyers choice be limited by the vision of a few editors who
have risen to the top at these large corporations, and who control what will be shown on to all
Through alamy.com hundreds of different editors will be offering different selections, and
different perspectives to the limited sections of the market with whom they deal. In this way a
much more eclectic offering will be made available to the buying public. There may be some
difficulty for the buyer in learning which custom portal to enter. But that can be solved to a
great extent through targeted marketing. This is far less of a problem for the buyer than having
no idea whatsoever where to go to find the image they really need.
One of our concerns about alamy.com is their pricing structure for uses. Most of the rates are
based on United Kingdom rates which are often very low when compared with normal U.S. rates. In
the next version of the software, expected to be launched before the end of the year, stock
agencies will be able to require that all uses be negotiated. Then they can charge their normal
Based on everything we can determine from the buyers of Rights Protected images in the U.S., we
feel that requiring buyers to negotiate uses rather than providing them with automatic pricing
will not inhibit them from using the site.
Another potential advantage of a large central site are the statistics that can be generated and
made available to the suppliers. alamy.com promises to provide information in the future as to
what subjects are being requested and the subjects that are in greatest demand.
As this industry moves ahead image suppliers will need to be smarter about what they shoot and
what they post online. They will not be able to afford to spend money to post images that no one
is interested in buying. They will need regular feedback on what is being requested. The data
from a large database will be much more useful than the data that can be generated from any
small, individual photographer site.
Thanks to Getty and Corbis
We need to take a moment to thank Getty and Corbis for working through a lot of the problems in
online selling and pointing the way to what does and doesn't work. Due to the pioneering work
done by Getty and Corbis customers are now more ready to accept online search and delivery than
they were a year or two ago. With today's knowledge many of the expensive mistakes and the
general costs of the past can be avoided.
Given the huge upfront investment that Getty and Corbis have made to get their operations where
they are today, they have little alternative but to retain a high percentage of revenue (thus
keeping the photographer's percentage low) in order to return something to the investors who have
subsidized their huge start up costs.
At this particular time a new start up like alamy.com has the benefit of not being saddled with
huge unnecessary costs, the knowledge of what has already been tried and found not to work well,
and a technology that is more mature.
It is unnecessary to spend the kind of money Getty and Corbis have spent to build an efficient
online operation. Much of the technology is much cheaper now and alamy.com does not have to do
much of the costly experimentation. It also seems clear from Getty and Corbis' efforts that
acquiring all the major agencies had not been beneficial for two major reasons:
- They don't own the product they are selling, the photographers do.
- They have fired or gotten rid of most of the people with institutional knowledge and good
alamy.com has set up a system that gives the photographers more power. It supports, and takes
advantage of the existing agency structure, rather than trying to supplant it with something
totally new. It recognizes the value of many of services to both photographers and customers that
agencies have always provided and supports those existing practices and operations. If it turns
out (as I believe it will) that analog files will still be needed to some degree alamy.com can be
successful and profitable at whatever level the digital search and delivery is needs. With their
structure Getty and Corbis can only be successful if they can drive everything to digital.
History will probably prove that Getty and Corbis came into the market too early when there was
little knowledge and costs were too high. It looks like alamy.com's timing will probably be
flawless. They got in at a time when the early leaders were beginning to falter, but early enough
to lead the Second Wave.
ADVERTISING SPENDING DOWN
According to Publishers Information Bureau total magazine advertising pages for February 2001
were down 9.7 percent from the same period in 2000.
News magazines have taken a particularly hard hit. U.S. News & World Report ran 26 ad pages in
its March 19, 2001 issue -- a drop of 51% from the 48 pages it ran on March 31, 2000. So far this
year U.S. News ad pages are down 15%; Time magazine, 11%; and Newsweek, 26%.
Analysts, advertising buyers and media executives say the rapid drop off of in advertising
spending reminds them of the early 1990's, the worst advertising recession since World War II.
Technology advertising in magazines was down 21% in February and retail advertising was down 34%.
Optimists point out that we're in a period of greatly compressed economic cycles. The bad times
come very fast, but the good times can return just as fast. But with sales falling and companies
pressed to make their numbers on Wall Street they cut where it is easiest which is often
advertising. Advertisers in need of cash are not buying packages for they year as they do in the
GETTY SALES DOWN AGAIN
July 26, 2001 (Story 420) - Getty Images Inc. reported gross sales of $115.9 million for
the 2nd Quarter of 2001, down from $124 million in the 1st quarter. On April 25th, CEO Jonathan
Klein had said that Getty expected sales for the quarter to be between $120 and $130 million.
In his conference call with investment analysts, when the company pre-announced earlier in July,
Klein said this was the result of continued weakness in the U.S. market and exacerbated by a
sharp deterioration in the European market. He indicated that the results were, "a disappointment
to us and very unexpected," and attributed the falloff to a "massive turn in the last half of
June, a period that has been traditionally strong."
At the end of June call volumes went down, searches on their web site went down and the requests
for analog sales also fell off. The Getty sales staff reported that customers have become more
price conscious, have to get more approvals, and are cancelling projects at a more frequent rate.
Customers pick less expensive licensing options and license fewer exclusives than had been the
case previously, and they are using fewer Rights Protected images and laying off some of their
Klein had no answer for analysts as to why the falloff was so sudden but said that the end of
June is traditionally a time when customers try to spend their quarterly budget.
Based of their customer research, it seems that buyers either have money to spend or they don't.
Project are either being done, or they are totally cancelled. Customers are not trying to figure
out how to do the same number of projects less expensively.
It's been over a year since Getty made it's last major acquisition and their quarterly sales have
2nd QT 2000
3rd QT 2000
4th QT 2000
1st QT 2001
2nd QT 2001
They expect sales to continue to fall off for the rest of the year and estimate that sales in
both the 3rd and 4th quarters will be between $100 and $110 million. If sales hit the middle
level of those estimates gross sales for the year will be approximately $449 million, down from
$484.8 for 2000. This would be a drop of at least 7% if we don't factor in that Getty didn't own
VCG in the 1st quarter of 2000 and that they did own Art.com which they sold at a loss recently.
E-commerce revenues rose from $52.6 million in the 1st quarter to $52.9 million in the 2nd
quarter. Because overall sales were down the percent of total revenue was 46% for Q2 compared
with 42% for Q1 and 31% in the second quarter of 2000. Despite the relatively slow growth in
e-commerce sales, Klein still expects all North American sales to be generated on the web in less
than three years.
Getty announced in early July that they would cut their worldwide staff from 2300 to 2000 by the
end of the year. (See the next story for the effects of some of those cuts.) They expect to save
$15 million to $20 million annually as a result of this reduction. Klein indicated that due to
the increased efficiency of Getty's e-commerce marketing system it is unlikely that it will be
necessary to replace these people when the economy turns around.
No Lowering Of Prices
Klein said that despite the falloff in sales volume, they have not seen a lowering of prices.
Price increases instituted last year are holding. Customers are not moving to Royalty Free to
save money, as some had expected in a down economy. PhotoDisc showed some growth, but less than
double-digit. PhotoDisc and Eyewire have seen single images sales online "grow significantly."
But, since single images sell for much less than discs, it is possible that Getty is experiencing
a growth in transactions without a corresponding growth in revenue. This was not confirmed by
Klein. Some RF customers may be making more use of the discs they bought a year or two ago.
Stone and The Image Bank sales had moderate double-digit growth compared with a year ago.
However, these improvement were not sufficient enough to offset weakness elsewhere including a
sharp decline in VCG sales (FPG, Telegraph Colour Library, PIX, Bavaria). Klein said progress at
FPG has been brought to a halt and more "remedial therapy" is needed.
The VCG operations in France and Germany (PIX and Bavaria) continue to struggle. Europe
represents more than 35% of Getty's sales. A new full e-commerce web site is due for worldwide
launch in October. Today Germany and France can not do full e-commerce on the Getty web site, or
search in their own language. Klein expects a growth in sales in Europe after the launch of the
Klein also said that, "now is not the time to contemplate further price increase."
Photographers had an August 1st deadline for signing their new contracts. More than 500 of the
leading photographers from Stone, TIB and VCG, representing over $80 million in annual sales for
Getty, have been rebelling against the terms in this contract since it was introduced in March.
On July 26th Klein told investors, "We have seen an acceleration in the return of contracts. We
already have more than enough high quality photographers with signed contracts to enable us to
get the imagery our clients need."
Despite this statement, five days later, Klein extended the deadline to August 31st and the
deadline has since been extended again to September 14th.
There are a number of issues in this difficult to understand contract that still upset many
photographers, but the latest deal breaker is the liability issue. Many photographers who have no
intent of supplying Getty with new images were prepared to sign the contract as a way of
protecting their income flow from the images Getty has already posted online. However, many have
decided that the liability risk this contract presents are too great.
Getty's solution to this problem is for the photographers to purchase "errors and omissions"
liability insurance to protect themselves. However, due to the unique characteristics of the
contract, and the risks it lays on the photographers, most insurance companies were unwilling to
write such insurance.
Getty does not want to put any restrictions on how customers may use the images they purchase
through automatic online transactions, but recognizing the potential liability Getty wants to lay
this risk off on someone. The photographers were the convenient fall guy.
Since early August Getty has been scrambling to find an insurance carrier who will write a policy
for the photographers. To change the contract, or for Getty to assume some risk, appears not to
be an option.
Assuming something is worked out on the insurance issue, there is still a major question as to
whether photographers who sign this image-exclusive contract will offer any new images to Getty.
Many will sign only to keep the images already in the system active, but they are fed up with
Getty and are rapidly seeking other ways to market their images.
The second most important issue at the moment is the audit clause. The way it is structured it
makes it almost impossible for an individual photographer to ever audit Getty. And yet many
photographers are beginning to have great concerns as to whether the accounting software is
working properly and whether they are being paid for all uses of their images.
It will not be surprising if their is another extension of the contract deadline beyond September
14th. And, whatever the deadline, Getty has not seen the end of their problems with their
In the conference call with investors Klein said, "customers are in a recessionary condition." He
added, "We continue to be cautious about the challenging U.S. and European economic environments
and their impact on our sales, we remain positive about our business and its ability to weather
the downturn and emerge even stronger. Media and advertising are an integral part of today's
economy and when our customers have more money to spend, we will be in an excellent position to
continue to grow, thanks to our market-leading products, large customer base and global
Another thing that may be affecting Getty's sales is the combining of three large similar
collections -- Stone, TIB and FPG. This may be resulting in lower sales overall for these brands.
Previously, when these brands were competing head-to-head, they may have been providing the
clients with a larger selection and more choice and thus making more sales. Now, to get that
extra choice, after reviewing the Getty selection, the clients may be going elsewhere.
There is some indication that Getty's major competitors are seeing less of a falloff than is the
case at Getty.
From a cost point of view, Getty has needed to limit the selection and variety on the images they
offer. The question, which will only be answered over time, is will buyers accept one of the
choices Getty offers, or will they continue their shopping for the image they really want by
going somewhere else.
The net lost for the second quarter was $23.7 million or $.46 a share, compared with $30.3
million, or $.62 a share a year ago. EBITDA, or earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and
amortization, was $22.6 million, up slightly from a year earlier. Cash flow per share rose to
$.36 from $.33 a year earlier.
GETTY CLOSES SCANNING
Seattle Scanning Operation Shut Down
August 13, 2001 (Story 421) - Getty has laid off most of the people in PhotoDisc who were
charged with scanning and cleanup of new images. This department in Seattle was the only place in
the U.S. where major scanning was being carried out.
The official explanation from Getty Public Relations is, "We are integrating our scanning labs
and transferring that function to our London facility. All other production functions and the
staff that perform them remain in Seattle." PR also said, "None of the staffing reductions impact
our ability to serve our customers or our potential to grow."
Seattle was doing around 2700 scans a month unless they had a big batch of clipping paths which
reduced output. Seattle handled clipping path work for all brands, worldwide.
No other scanning was being done in the U.S. When Getty bought a new company they closed down the
scanning operation. Eyewire in Calgary, Canada had a major scanning operation when they were
purchased, but it is our understanding that operation was closed down when Getty started moving
the Eyewire operation to Seattle.
Sources tell us that previous to the recent firings Seattle had: 4 scanner operators, 3 scanner
assistants, 7 retouchers, 1 manager, 1 director, 3 editors, 4 keyworders, 1 art director and 4
All that are left are: 2 retouchers doing clipping paths and 4 people mastering. Presumably, this
work load will be picked up by London.
In addition to all PhotoDisc scans, this department did most of the re-scanning of the TIB
images. The majority of London's work has been for Stone and Hulton. London also picked up some
of the extra from TIB, VCG and Allsport, all of which had no separate production facilities.
We have been unable to find out how many staff doing scanning and retouching are in the London
department. One photographer who has shot for both PhotoDisc and Stone has pointed out that his
PhotoDisc images always got up online very quickly after they were shot. His work for Stone has
taken months, if not more than a year, after he shot it to get online.
Sources tell me that London has always complained that Seattle was not efficient enough. Seattle
says London hasn't maintained their high quality standards. I understand London makes a lot of
scans from dupes. Seattle insisted on scanning originals. London says they can do 40 scans
per-person per-shift. The person doing the scanning does all the retouching. Seattle had assigned
different people to scanning and retouching in order to maintain a high level of quality.
Keep in mind that in the drum scanning process it is necessary to spend a lot of time carefully
putting the images on the drum and in cleaning the oil off the images after the scanning process
is finished. It is hard to see how a person involved in this process can jump back and forth to
retouching and do either job effectively. However, it is not clear how London manages its work
It appears that the annual salaries of the people fired were in the range of $30,000 to $45,000.
The two managers may have received more. If the intention is to replace these people in the UK,
salaries there seem to be somewhat lower, but not much. Thus, it seems unlikely that there will
be much, if any, of a cost savings, if Getty plans to continue scanning the same number of images
in one location that they were formerly doing in two.
It is very likely that, regardless of anything the new photographer contract might indicate,
fewer new images will be scanned and uploaded to the site than has been the case in the last year
or so. Photographers who have been hoping that more of their old images will be put on the site
once the contract is signed should temper their optimism.
Photographers who want to get new images online should probably deliver images scanned to Getty's
specifications rather than just supply film.
Given the reduced staff it looks like most of the re-scanning of TIB images will stop. The chance
that many more of the old FPG or VCG images will get scanned in the near future seems slim.
Getty may have 2,000 employees, but one small area of operations can have a dramatic effect on
the fortunes of the entire company. If they were manufacturing cars and suddenly there was no way
to get starter motors, the whole assembly line would be dead.
If Getty is going to continue to scan as many images as they have in the past then they have
probably increased their costs in the short term rather than decreasing them -- given the cost of
severance and re-training. If the purpose of this move was to save money then their intent has
got to be to scan fewer images.
Getty may have determined that they have more than enough images in their already scanned
database to meet customer needs. Thus it wastes resources to continue to scan new images. If this
is the decision, then Getty doesn't need as many photographers shooting new images.
The conundrum here is that if they don't need new images why is Klein putting forth extra effort
to get SAA photographers to sign the new contract? Could it be that the strategy is not to get
new images, but to hold out hope to the SAA photographers, so they will not move to offer their
work to the competition?