Another major step forward: Earlier this week all THP members’ websites were updated with a new search engine whose enhanced functionality brings modern formats, speed, reliability and new features to the leading front.

Moving hand in hand with developments in technology, the business model of the stock photography industry has been changing constantly and dramatically in the past years, both in regards to agencies’ administrative needs as well as the clients’ approach to licensing images.  Recognizing and incorporating these changes, our in-house THP designers and programmers have been working on the new customer-focused design  functionality for the last year. This long term development plan has included the creation and live-testing of new modules in order to incorporate the valued advice and feedback given by THP agents and their clients.

Some highlights are:


Extensive search engine filters
An expanded Search Engine section allows you to find results faster and more easily by applying flexible filters from a range of popular terms and categories.


Easy access to new offers
As well as RM and RF images, Low Budget Images and Video, new offers such as Vectors and Celebrities are now featured.


Modern functionality
A complete renovation: the front end is now more contemporary, stylish, and more intuitive with responsive navigation and design. In a clear layout, visual tags and icons help the client to easily recognize licenses and grouped collections.


Catering to agents’ individual needs
The ability to adjust colours to those prevalent in agents’ websites, as well as the offer to cover specific wishes or add different or additional functionalities.


Drag and drop items

An item drag and drop function enables the smooth addition of items to both light boxes and shopping carts.


Enhanced item preview

The new “Item preview” window offers detailed information and the ability to navigate throughout items in the search results while maintaining the original search results in the background.

We trust that this enhanced search engine will assist agents in getting good results in day to day business. As we continue to make a strenuous effort to blend modern methods and procedures in the THP system, renovations on the Agents Members Area/Backend are now being made, which will bring the entire THP platform to a high aligned level of modernity and functionality.


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Start spreading the news... age fotostock CEO Alfonso Gutiérrez and Content Manager Julieanne Eason will be leaving Barcelona this Friday to attend the 18th annual PACA conference "Opportunity In Change" on the 20th and 22nd of October, followed by the Visual Connections event on the 23rd, all taking place in central New York.

The PACA conference is a two day event that provides an opportunity to network with providers, agents, clients and figureheads in the stock industry, as well as featuring a full program of panel talks, discussions, words from the wise in the industry. These panels will be chaired by our age fotostock USA sales manager Susan Jones. Not be missed - Alfonso as CEPIC President will be speaking his opinion on Image Registries on Tuesday at 11am. We hope to be enlightened by the variety of talks in between meetings with our agents and providers.

Visual Connections is a one day event which brings together stock agencies and existing or potential clients. Our age fotostock USA team will be there representing the company - please feel welcome to drop in and visit us!

For more information about PACA, CEPIC and BAPLA click here to check out one of our previous posts.

 


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CEPIC, Center of the Picture Industry Europe, held its annual conference here in Barcelona June Tuesday 10th– Friday 14th .

Given that Barcelona is age fotostock’s home city and that age fotostock CEO Alfonso Gutierrez was elected the president of Cepic at the beginning of the week, it was an exciting and busy week for age fotostock staff. In fact, the hubbub and CEPIC aftermath has only just now started to simmer down.

Overall, the CEPIC congress is simply the best place to stay in touch with all our partners, listen to what is going on in the industry and learn about other countries experiences and ways of doing business.

More specifically, that means 30 minute meetings from 9am until 6.30pm for three days straight, dinners or lunches with business associates who have travelled across the world to attend and despite their jetlag will do all they can to take advantage of being on the Mediterranean, walking in many directions with much purpose and many pamphlets, excel sheets, laptop under the arm, intense cravings for coffees, the odd sit down to be enlightened or angered  in one of the conference sessions and a well deserved shake-it-loose party at the end of the week. In short, it’s a photography industry meeting marathon.

My personal experience as Content Manger for age fotostock was a fortification of our relationships with current providers and agents, closing business deals which include extending distribution contracts to new territories, meeting companies representing new collections, talking with current Providers about their new content available and comparing business experience and strategies with other companies. The age fotostock team also held a small meeting for the agents who use our THP network, where we were proud to demo the new age fotostock website which will be launched soon.

News from the floor is that the market is slightly decreasing in areas of economic struggle and remaining steady in others. Smaller companies tend to be retiring from the business and those who are growing are the ones who are promoting new business strategies which take advantage of the increasingly important and inescapable role that digital technology plays in our daily lives. Clients are accustomed to the microstock product and an image selling for $5,000 is a rare occurrence nowadays. Clients globally now ask for more images at a lesser price and with extended uses and extended dates, although there is a general consensus that clients are constantly returning to agents that can provide service, which doesn’t mean only personal sales care but a trustworthy product in which the releases, caption information and sales history of the item are valid and dependable.

There is also the ever present desire for those at Cepic to learn which new markets and products are developing, but although there are many companies out there taking many different approaches, no one seems to have sprung upon anything that can lift us high and dry out of the lull left in the wake of microstock pricing. Yet.


Many attendants said it was one of their favorite Cepic congresses, and although it could have been just the influence of smooth Spanish sun after a particularly bleak winter across Europe, I believe the feeling of camaraderie in the business comes from the inherent need to pull together to unite industry standards and to spread knowledge and expertise in order to make the industry stronger.


I’ll leave you with a quote from Sol, age fotostock International Accounts Manager:


“If I should define 2013 CEPIC, I would say that it made me think about one of my favourite books: Sun Tzu’s Art of War. Everyone was in the mood of gaining a victory by losing as little as possible. Everyone was keen to negotiate symbiotic synergies. There were no big parades or miracle solutions but instead, tones of persistence, resilience and the decisive goal to catch a business opportunity, wherever it is. This is the time for creative, energetic, and simple solutions – which curiously manifested in a dish included in the catering at the Cepic opening party; a culinary innovation encapsulating the famous Spanish cockle (berberechos) sauce and a lot of tasty inspiration in one shot.”


Are we ready to fight? Certainly, at age fotostock, we are.

 


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Founded in Moscow in 2009, stock agency Legion-Media began working with the main publishing houses and advertizing agencies in Russia, growing to be a major distributor of international content in Russia in 2013. Expanding the business, they opened Dreamsfoto (www.dreamsfoto.org) a site which consists of their best stock material, based on the THP platform.

"We  were  pleasantly surprised when from the very beginning we had millions of images provided through EasyFotostock, age fotostock and Pixtal. Also we were pleasantly surprised by very simple and understandable back office and suppliers connection, as well as very good communication with THP employees, who are ready to help at anytime.

Our clients who use stock material are very happy to have this fantastic resource.  Quick  search, simple  keywording, search by collections, e-commerce - this is a partial list of the benefits that clients are enjoying.

THP is a company for people who are thinking about their business. It's a simple and quick way for increasing your sales."


- Tamerlan Gamidov, CEO, Legion-Media

Thank you for your kind words, Tamerlan! Welcome to our THP network.


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All of you should read the following post in the CEPIC Blog which debates the recent Dreamstime Microstock offer of over a million images for free use, based on the pedestrian thinking that people that get images for free will eventually pay for them sometime in the future...

CLICK to read the article in the Cepic Blog 

Our photographers' chatroom has been humming with backlash. Here's just a few of the photographers' reactions:

"I'm not allowed to talk about the "old" days but back then the bosses of the agencies cared passionately about the business and often were artists as well, now it's all about money for them and lack of it for us.It won't be too long before photographers have to pay to sell their photos that are being given away free."

"I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that shooting stock in this type of environment is rather pointless and perhaps not worth the effort for the 99%. Luckily I have other more marketable skills."

"I might be the eternal optimist, but I think there is still a decent paying place for high quality niche images. One that a micro shooter could not produce and one any jackass can't take with their iPhone. I try and produce them all the time."

"There is certainly no NEED for FREE content in today's ADVERTISING market. If you want to advertise, PAY the creator of the content you'd like to use! When one person (or business) WANTS to use free content - that doesn't mean another person has to deliver it at his own expenses."

It is clear that digital technology and the Internet has opened the door for new business models that favor the distribution process that balances the lowering of selling prices with the generation of volume. While this may initially sound logical, the ugly side is that photographers in general and the stock photography industry in particular will fall into decline because photographers cannot generate enough revenue to continue producing great images.

Cheap prices have devaluated photography to unimaginable levels in just a few years and have demoralized professional photographers. I believe that the only way to maintain the value of photography is to produce high quality content that attract clients attention because it is unique, innovative, creative and experimental and which maintains a more than decent price. age fotostock maintains the same principles, shooting the best images we can and trying to sell them for the best possible price.

We have entered into a vicious circle that we can only break out of if photographers and stock agencies demolish the fence that separates them and openly discuss certain pricing logic - otherwise the future will be uncertain for both of us.


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The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in anyway.

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