OnRequest Images Focuses on Corporate Clients

Posted on 12/3/2007 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Five years ago, Seattle-based OnRequest Images introduced the idea of "Custom Stock." The original business model was focused on getting photo requests from ad agencies, design firms and companies, then identifying three to five photographers who would shoot the pictures on spec at their own expense. The images generated were made available for the customer's consideration and possible purchase at stock photo rates. The customer had no obligation to buy. If the customer chose an image, the photographer would receive a royalty. The others got nothing. The theory was that even if the requesting company didn't buy a photographer's images, the subject matter could be effectively marketed as stock.

The whole concept got a cool reception from most in the photo industry. It is one thing to shoot images on speculation with the hope of future sale. It is quite another to shoot custom assignments without any guarantee of compensation.

For various reasons, this strategy was abandoned after a couple years, and OnRequest quietly morphed into a different business model. CEO David Norris says, "We listened to our customers, and found that they wanted something different."

OnRequest is now focused on dealing with large corporate customers, the end users of the images, not ad agencies. The emphasis is on building custom libraries. Norris says they have built libraries for over 400 brands. (Indications are that some of these "libraries" may be in initial stages.) The companies they work with tend to contract with OnRequest on a long-term project basis, rather than for one shot assignments. The freelance photographers who shoot are paid competitive industry assignment day rates plus expenses.

Photographers who have worked with the company say when OnRequest gets an assignment, it first checks with several freelance photographers about interest and availability. Then they get quotes from several who seem to be the best fit. The customer then decides which photographer to use.

The sales person/producer handles all the pre-production for the shoot, including lining up models, clothes, sets, etc. OnRequest has an online casting tool called InstaCast that may be used to locate models. OnRequest also handles all  post-production. Scott Redinger-Libolt says, "It's a photographer's dream. It's like having a rep that produces the whole shoot and doesn't take a percentage. All I have to do is take pictures and deliver the raws. They do everything else."

On Request recently laid off eight staffers; it hopes to achieve profitability sometime in 2008. But the company has in excess of 70 people on its roster, divided between those who support the productions and the sales and marketing staff.

OnRequest also provides a digital asset management system with full keywording and search capabilities. In addition, it will host, not only the images it produces, but all the images the company has in its files from other sources.

OnRequest also provides consulting help to clients. In some cases, it researches how customers and their competitors use images in their various advertising and marketing pieces. The results of such research often aids in convincing large corporate users that in order to distinguish their brand, they need to use images unavailable elsewhere.

As revenue from stock declines, it may be time for leading stock photographers to take another look at OnRequest to determine if it might be a viable supplement to their stock businesses.

Copyright © 2007 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 301-461-7627, 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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