That´s right, age fotostock photographers and videographers can now submit both images and video clips.

We have updated the Road Atlas with a new video info section and also instructions on how to prepare and send video.  In the new video section, you will find a lot of basic information for photographers that are just starting out in video, such as basic video terms and also tips for shooting video with a DLSR camera.  In the link on how to prepare and send video, you will find guidelines on how your material should be prepared and sent to age fotostock.  We look forward to hearing from you with your questions and concerns, and mostly, to receiving your video material!

If you missed the official communication, you can see it here:


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Our next featured age fotostock photographer, Enrique Algarra, is involved in photography at different levels.  As a professor, he is directly involved in the formation of the young, aspiring photographers of tomorrow.  As a photographer, his images show a curious, playful, unconstrained and at times almost obsessive vision of the world.  Algarra comments that he started taking photos at the age of 7. You can still feel the spirit of that 7 year old in his images that spy on strangely human mannequins, the moving legs of blurred passersby’s, and the odd places that can be found just around the corner…if you’re looking.  You can see more of his images here at age fotostock or in either of these personal blogs, www.enriquealgarra.blogspot.com or www.paquetesdefotos.blogspot.com.

 

Q: What 3 words best describe you?

A: I think Enrique, Algarra, and Photographer.

Q: What artistic influences are in your work?

A: I'm interested in film and photography and they give me ideas, according to my mood. Life is full of things and places to find inspiration.

Q: What is your favorite lens? Why?

A: In the seventies, I was a fan of the 20 mm because I really liked Pete Turner. Now I still enjoy the wide angles, but I’m just as likely to grab a fisheye as the 600 mm, it all depends on the day and my mood.

Q: What’s the Image that you are still hoping to make?

A: I’m not a photojournalist and I’m not trying to become a legend, so I have nothing planned. I’d just like to make at least one photo a day that makes me feel good.

Q: Why did you choose age fotostock to represent your photography?

A: I chose age fotostock for the proximity, and by that I don’t just mean that Valencia is close to Barcelona. I like to put faces on the names of the people who are on the other side of my computer screen working with me.  Age fotostock has always treated me very well, and I appreciate that.

Q: Based on your experience as a photography professor, what future changes await us in photography?

A: The changes have already come, and are here to stay. Professionally, the world has been digital for some time now, but even as files and cameras improve, the most important thing is to improve how we think, our ideas.  Photography schools must rethink their focus and develop different educational content.

Q: Are your current students the same as your students from the past or do you see changes?

A: The students are not at all the same.  They grew up in the digital world, and some things that have been very difficult for older photographers to learn are completely natural for them.

Q: In your opinion, what is the best way to learn photography?

A: At this point, I think you can learn digital technology quickly; it’s a much simpler process than classic photography, which is an advantage. However, everything that isn’t technique is as difficult to learn as before.  It’s a matter of bringing your own vision to the world through your images, digital or not, and developing a mature vision is not easy. You must try to understand the things around you in order to photograph them. Photography schools should not only teach color profiles and how to master the needed software, they must also prepare future photographers to be able to express their ideas to the world with their images.

Q: What is the best photographic advice that you have ever received?

A: My first teacher once told me that photography is like a puppy, if you take care of it, it will never abandon you. I took his advice, I don’t have a dog, but I've been taking pictures since I was seven, and the truth is that photography has been a good companion.  That’s in part thanks to you guys.

Q: If you weren’t a photographer, what would you be?

A: I would like to be anything that would free me from depending on the latest software, firmware or operating system and all those things that sometimes make you feel like a slave. I think if I became a writer I would happily use just a pencil and paper and I would be a little more free. But that must await for a different incarnation ...

Bonus Question:  I've heard your students talk about the so-called "Algarratype." Can you explain what that is?

A: In the past, when a student took a photo that was too “inspired” in my photos, the other students would tell him that he had made an "Algarratype.” But luckily, that doesn’t happen anymore, now I am copying them (ha ha).


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As some of you have already noticed, things are moving at age fotostock.  Literally.  Our pictures are moving.  Welcome to the next step in age fotostock.  Welcome to video!

age fotostock has now incorporated video into our offering of products.  We have put a tremendous effort into developing a platform where we can meet our clients’ needs at every level.  Now that includes motion.

So if you have been thinking about trying out the full potential of your DLSR camera (with HD capabilities) or if you have been working in video for some time, now is your chance to “get in motion.”  We would like to see the same creativity, depth of material and technical excellence in the age fotostock video collection, as we currently find in our image collections.  

We have opened with RF video only, but we will soon be offering RM and LBRF (Low Budget Royalty Free) video as well.  There is a place for each of you and we will be offering the same fair 50% commission.  

If you are interested, grab a camera with HD capacity and follow the guidelines below.  We will be following up with further instructions on how to submit in a few weeks, once our system has been fully adapted to receive and process your video.

Capture: Produce video clips in High Definition, preferably Full HD (1920 x 1080p). If you have unique clips shot in Standard Definition (SD), you can consult with us.

File format: You will have to send clips in the mov format (QuickTime).

Codec: You will have to send clips in codec H.264.

Clip Conversion: If your video archive is in a different format/codec, don´t despair.  There are many software conversion tools available for converting clips (format and codec).  We recommend MPEG Streamclip (developed by Square 5) which is free and works for both the Mac and PC platforms.  You can download this tool at: http://www.squared5.com.

Frame rate: The frames per second (fps) as you originally filmed it.  We will convert the fps if necessary.

Edited clip duration: Minimum of 5 seconds / maximum of 90 seconds.  If you have clips that are longer than this, you may consult with us.

Releases & Metadata: Keep in mind that we will need the same model and property releases and full metadata information for video as we currently require for photos.  Be sure to get those releases signed!

Knowing the industry, we’re sure that video will be subject to the same low pricing pressures as has happened with stock photography… it is our destiny.  In spite of that, we think that there is money to be made in video, just as in photography, and given the possibilities that modern DSLR cameras offer photographers; one can produce video at the same time and with the same camera that you produce still images. Get on board; we have a new offer for you!


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As we all start thinking about the new year, and the opportunities and challenges 2011 will bring, I’ve asked age fotostock founder and CEO, Alfonso Gutierrez, to share some of his reflections on the current situation and future direction of the stock photography industry and where he sees age fotostock in the mix.

Q: What is your background in the stock photography industry?

A: I started as a chemist specialized in photographic chemistry, but ironically, I worked in the pharmaceutical industry. Then I became a technical sales person selling Linhof and Hasselblad cameras, among others, and then a professional photographer until I started age fotostock 38 years ago.   

Q: Do you think your long experience in the industry is a strength or a weakness?

A: It is certainly a strength because in all these years I learned that if you want to stay in business, in any business, you have to carefully watch your organic growth and be able to restructure and adapt fast when the market situation requires a change. We have done that for all those years and we are still in business and progressing. Most of the great stock agencies of the past have vanished because they wanted to grow beyond their organic possibilities. Of course, the stock photography industry, being what it is, remembers those disappearances or failures, as victories. The cruel reality is that those agencies were finally sold and bought by companies that wanted to prove to the world how to do things better, and they started in the same cycle.  Now, the biggest stock agencies are suffering for the exact same reasons of the past.   Once you violate the equilibrium of organic growth, you are forced into a situation of financial difficulty that obliges you to reduce commissions for photographers or providers of images and/or pay them with noticeable delays.

Alfonso Gutierrez, Founder and CEO of age fotostock, shares his thoughts on 2011

Q: What is your opinion on the evolution of the business model in recent years?

A: I’m positive about the drastic evolution that the stock photography business model is suffering, although I fear that the changes are going to be analysed incorrectly. Many are thinking that the culprit of what is happening now is low pricing. In fact, the truth is to be found elsewhere in the transition of a static Internet web (Web 1.0) from the past to a much more modern model, opened to the users, the Web 2.0. Nowadays, microstock sites are more aligned with Web 2.0 than traditional stock agencies and it remains to be seen whether what some traditional stock agencies are trying will be a success or a failure. 

Q: How has this evolution affected traditional stock agencies?

Alfonso Gutierrez, Founder and CEO of age fotostock, shares his thoughts on 2011

A: Traditional stock photography has been caught in the middle of a combination of an economic recession where clients needing photos wanted something good and cheap that microstock/subscription could supply, and the need to change the old hierarchical style of pricing and selling typical of most RF companies to a much more agile, consumer-oriented service. Most stock companies still don’t see the need to implement any changes in how to approach the market, creating a lot of confusion in the traditional stock photography industry that will take time to resolve. As we look around, it is interesting to realize how some stock photography players resolve the evolution by establishing small offices in different countries of the world, while others create multiple web sites for image distribution in different countries, for a reduced commission to the local person that answers the phone. It will take some time to see the results of these different emerging traditional stock photography solutions.   

Q: Many people (photographers, agents, etc.) who have been in the stock photography industry for a long time would like to wave a wand and make microstock/cheap subscriptions disappear.  Would you?

A: Personally, I don’t see the point in wishing that microstock/subscription or any such model would disappear; it is as silly as wishing that Google would disappear. They are here to stay and they are as imperfect as everything and everyone in life, so understanding and using their imperfections can make your model cope better with market circumstances. There is still plenty of space to improve in dealings with photographers and clients.  With photographers, because of simple algorithms that show the images in greater demand, the more productive photographers rise above the creative talent that is less in demand, since they don’t have an industrialized production chain. And while selling manufactured commodities is one thing, selling images has intrinsic subtleties. Images are not produced in a mechanized production chain in spite of the availability of easy digital cameras, they are produced by photographers of diverse qualifications and in some cases the final product lacks the required final lustre. For example, solid captioning and great keywording is hard to find in many places because photographers must not only create the images, but also manage captions, keywords, MR/PR contracts and, on top of that, be some what responsible for any mistakes. In my opinion, all that work is excessive if you are going to be paid a share of 10 cents (multiplied however many times) because when the same cake will be distributed among many photographers, each one will realize that less times multiplied by 10 cents does not cover the costs. But I have learned that photographers will accept what popular wisdom signals, even if it is in the wrong direction.

Q: In your opinion are current prices for stock photography/microstock compatible with a viable business model?

A: For a traditional stock agency, very low microstock/subscription prices alone will not make the business viable. However, a low priced product is a nice addition; just an example, now nearly 40% of our entire Royalty Free sales are coming from easyFotostock, our Low Budget Royalty Free (LBRF) offer which sells images at the very affordable price of 10/20/40/60/80 Euros (small differences when quoted in US$) depending of file size. easyFotostock offers this without the hassle of an “extended license” that clearly foments license infringements. So, easyFotostock/LBRF is a model that brings us clients from microstock/subscription licensing who don’t want to pay cash in advance to get the images they need. However, microstock prices seem to be a viable model for some of the microstock/subscription players, especially for those with low overheads and only a virtual presence. On the other hand, rumours about at least one of the best known players reducing photographers’ margins invites speculation on how viable the very low prices really are.

Alfonso Gutierrez, Founder and CEO of age fotostock, shares his thoughts on 2011

Q: At age fotostock, we have found that top microstock shooters are increasingly interested in distribution through our more traditional channels. Do you think this is a trend reflecting a discontent with the microstock channels or simple expansion into new opportunities?

A: In physical chemistry, saturation is the point at which a solution of a substance can not dissolve any more of that substance and additional amounts of it will appear as a precipitate. A similar thing happens with images databases, there is a saturation point where more images do not imply more business for every photographer. Simple algorithms based on visibility, sales, quantity of images and a few more predictive parameters benefit some shooters that appear regularly and create problems for others that are hardly seen.  The system saturates with images and contributors have to find other solutions and distribution points that don’t use the exact same algorithms, or sell at a different price scale with less volume sales, but more money per image sold. So, the answer is yes, we see a growing interest in our Low Budget Royalty Free offer from a number of photographers looking for extra income in view of certain revenue stagnation in other models.

Q: What do photographers from traditional stock agencies have to learn from the microstock photographers?  And vice versa?

A: Generally speaking, I wouldn’t advise photographers to sweat their shirt to sell images at very low prices, no matter how much money you can make today by selling a huge volume, but my thinking as a photographer alone won’t discourage others from selling and sweating cheap. There is no secret about microstock as a licensing model. It is hard not to be successful selling original Rolex watches at a few cents a piece, if you understand my analogy. Microstock presence is welcomed because they are slowly moving stock photography agencies and traditional RF producers to change their mentality and modernize their thinking, if they want to survive in a world where the client is the king.

Q: Where do you see age fotostock and other traditional agencies in the near future?

A: Many things can happen that may affect the future of photography and hence those around it. There is a lot of noise and offers in the market and new and pre-existing products like video and 3D promise to be a revolution. However, the reality is that in 2010 we received more traditional images than ever before, in fact 1.152,639 images just from photographers. This shows a 24.06% growth compared to 2009 and represents a historical record in photographers’ submissions in the 38 years of age fotostock history. But what is more shocking is that on top of that, we received another 2.075.457 images for distribution from other stock agencies like us.  When your content grows by more then 3 million images in a year, one questions whether stock photography as we know it (traditional or micro) is reaching that saturation point and whether the precipitate forming is an indication that prices can’t go deeper; well, images can still be given to clients for free… Consequently, traditional agencies will need to radically modify their structures and their presence in Internet if they want to see substantial growth by the end of the year. In the long run, however, I see the same cyclical wave that I have seen for so many years, “...everything changes to stay the same in the end...”    

Q: What message would you share with age fotostock photographers for 2011?

A: I would share with them optimism. Photographers in general need to realize that good quality images always have a market, whether sold at minuscule prices or at better ones. The critical issue though is how to generate imaginative ideas that can produce great photographs which won’t be copied instantaneously. And the secret is “production quality.” Many of the images we see around could be dramatically improved if the photographer knew about the proper photographic language and would use better equipment, materials and ideas.  There is too much mediocrity around that shows little photographic competence and little imagination in resolving a subject. Many of the photographers that shoot descriptive travel imagery need to experiment more, one example from may others, experiment with longer lenses, in order to see an explosive change in the visual value of their images. Photographers shooting model released material and aspiring to become microstock winners, need to get out of the chromatic studio cliché that abounds so much nowadays because it is now beginning to show the limits. In other words, photographers need to re-invent visual relevance without looking around to see what the others are shooting, no matter how successful the other photographers are. Photographers must explore the depths of their own imagination to be successful.

 


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The images of our next featured age fotostock photographer, Ton Koene, might provoke a wide range of emotions in our readers.  What they won’t provoke is indifference.  This series, “Doctors at the frontline,” documents the work of Doctors without Borders at a hospital in Afghanistan.  And, more powerfully, it tells us something about the lives of women and children in that country.  You can read more about this hospital here and you can see more of Koene's images at www.tonkoene.nl.

At a time when microstocks have started selling photos for editorial use, images like these should invite photographers to a moment of serious reflection.  The value of these images is their very serious and realistic vision of the day-to-day reality in an Afghan hospital.  Their value is the careful composition and storytelling, making them images that communicate powerfully, not sensationally.  Their value is the trust the photographer has developed with the hospital and ONG to gain access and the careful planning behind photojournalism in a conflict zone.  Finally, the value of these images is the financial cost of a trip and long stay in Afghanistan and the risk of harm that the photographer has accepted. 

Should a photographer´s blood, sweat, toil & tears be available for a 14 cents download?  If we sell such valuable images for pocket change, won´t the day come when these valuable and unique images cease to exist?

 

Q: Why did you choose to be a photographer?

A: It is fun. You have no boss, no personnel, and can be creative and free as a bird while travelling the world.

Q: How do you get funding for your trips and projects?

A: It depends, sometimes I seek funding for projects, but mostly I invest profits from my previous projects to initiate new projects.

Q: What equipment do you carry when you’re packing light?

A: I always take: two Canon 5D, one 24 mm 1.4, one 24 mm-70 mm 2.8, one fisheye, flash and chargers. I have no telephoto lens.

Q: Where is your favourite place to photograph?

A: Outside, in all weather conditions. I love the tropics to shoot. I also shoot a lot in conflict areas where the emotions in people are stronger.

Q: Where are you still hoping to go?

A: There is no limit. I would like to go to places which are not photographed too often.

Q: Have you ever faced great difficulty in gaining access for a story?  How did you manage it?

A: I always have problems in photographing as the context I shoot is violent and corrupt. It requires good preparation and being transparent in what you want to do. Also, you must talk to the right people and take good advice.

Q: Do you feel that viewers nowadays have become desensitized to images of war, refugees, etc or are they still impacted by these images?

A: Yes, and often these images are indeed cheap. But a good photograph is always powerful, no matter how often it is being done....but you have to be creative and original...

Q: Which is your favourite of your features?

A: Any feature which shows the strength of people in difficult situations. I like the transvestites in Pakistan as the images are good, but it was also difficult to make.

Q: Why did you choose age fotostock to represent your photography?

A: AGE has a wide network of distribution which helps my sales and income.

Q: What is the best or worst photographic advice that you have ever received?

A: The worst advice: Do not start doing it, it’s hard to get an income (which is true, but who cares).
The best advice: If a picture is not good enough, you are not close enough (Robert Capa).

Q: If you weren’t a photographer, what would you be?

A: Rich.


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