Brian Seed on TSI

Posted on 9/17/1997 by Brian Seed | Printable Version | Comments (0)



September 17, 1997

Brian Seed, publisher of the Stock Photo Report , came to some markedly different conclusions about the "Interpretations" catalog than I did. With his kind permission, I am reprinting his article so my readers can be aware of opposing points of view. For more information about Stock Photo Report you can phone: 847-677-7887, fax: 847-677-7891 or e-mail: Again, I urge photographers to try to get a look at the Interpretations catalog and determine for yourself if this is the new direction for stock photography.

The newest catalog from Tony Stone Images, "Interpretations," is a truly creative work, with images that are liberated from the old, hidebound, generic stock categories. In this, it partly borrows from past catalogs of Photonica and Mon Tresor, providing simple, artful, non-specific images. In the TSI catalog, however, I find a more lyrical imagery which to me should have special appeal to buyers of photography, and should allow for more freedom of expression.

After looking through and enjoying this catalog, I wished that the editors who selected the images had been given credit for their work. Producing a catalog of this excellence, range, and size depends so critically on the many people who put it together. But all is not perfect and I do have one gripe. When will designers learn that the general population is aging and doesn't have 20/20 eyesight? What appears to be 6-point type in silver ink on a yellow background, on the back cover, may not be legible to many of us. The message conveyed by the images is crystal clear. Does the text not matter?

Jim Pickerell, in his newsletter, Taking Stock , claims that there were many "dissatisfied and distressed...disappointed: and disillusioned TSI photographers, upset at the way the editing of the Interpretations catalog was handled, and with the overall look of the final product.

I can see that U.S. photographers would be unhappy if they were encouraged to put time and money into generating images, only to find that none of them were used, but that is life in the real world. The editor with the prime responsibility for the catalog must have the final word. He is at the nerve center of TSI, in London, has the latest market information, and the ultimate design responsibility for an international product.

Should U.S. photographers, or U.S. art directors, have the final say over the designated editor? Perhaps a fair question would be whether the photographers were given direction that corresponded to the selection criteria. Nonetheless, as we all know, on any creative project, the final direction may turn out to be different from what anyone thought at first. In any case, what occurred here offers a study in photographer-agency relationships under changing agency ownership.

I hold no special brief for TSI, but I do think it behooves Jim Pickerell to get his facts right. According to TSI, Jim is incorrect in at least one major claim: that there was no consultation with U.S. people. TSI says that an editor from Los Angeles was in London and was a part of the team that put the catalog together.

There are many people who feel that Jim is biased and does not comment on stock agencies fairly and dispassionately. After all, he owns one. Thus, fact-checking seems especially important when he writes articles that are critical of stock agencies.

Copyright © 1997 Brian Seed. 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 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz


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